Ever wonder why it seems that summer breezes flip up pale-pink polos all around the area? How does the “popped collar” trend, which goes against gravity, not to mention the design of the shirt, manage to stay in style summer after summer?
Trey Packard, a financial analyst and “occasional popper,” says it’s all in the name of fun, although alcohol sometimes plays a role: “It’s a fact that when you’re walking around in the summer in the daytime, you don’t see as many pops as you do at night at Town Hall. I can’t explain the pop: It just is.”
Jonathan Grella, a vice president at Edelman public relations, describes his popping compulsion as “a sartorial game of chicken: The goal is to go where few people are willing to go. The courage that one shows by popping leaves the ladies’ hearts aflutter.”
Grella and his friends set out one evening each wearing no fewer than four shirts with collars popped and heavily starched—a maneuver they call the “peacock pop” because it emulates the bird’s affinity for showing his feathers to attract a mate.
Capital Club vice president John Goodwin says he’s not trying to make a statement with his popped collar; he’s been popping since growing up in Rhode Island. He even finds the practice occasionally functional, as it prevents sunburn during a game of golf.
Even while widely mocked—a popped collar screams trust-fund preppy—the style persists, but it’s good to know your audience. If you’re headed to bars like Smith Point, Town Hall, and Bourbon, you’ll feel right at home, but Grella warns, “I’d get a wedgie if I walked into Dragonfly with my collar popped.”