Only retards wear their collars up

20Jul06

I forgot to mention the best part of our boat cruise. I practically had to run to work yesterday morning to tell my co-worker Chris what he’d missed, since he’d been off vacationing in Florida at the time. I’d forgotten to tell him about the popped collar incident.


One of the things I like most about Chris is his hatred for the popped collar. It goes beyond a mere pet peeve. It’s more like blinding, psychotic rage. He absolutely cannot abide a man going around with the collar of his shirt turned up. And I agree.

Travelling to work on the subway that morning, I’d wanted to pop this poseur right on his manicured stubble for not only popping the collar of his pink shirt but also wearing designer sunglasses underground, which always makes you look like a douchebag (unless you’re obviously nodding off, in which case you just look like you’re adorably failing to pretend you’re not napping. But let’s get back to focusing on the collar). Popping the collar just makes a guy look like he’s just trying too hard, like he’s trying to emulate the Fonz but instead channeling Potsie.

Is it the Fonz, though? Which icon of cool inspires these guys? James Dean? Humphrey Bogart, as my co-worker Liz suggested? I don’t think it was Bogie. He’d pop you in the jaw for that kind of nonsense. Ricky Schroeder from Silver Spoons? Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Who?

It looks like we have tennis player René LaCoste, the guy behind all those shirts with the little crocodiles, to blame. The Wikipedia article on the subject — and once again, I’m astonished that there’s a Wikipedia article on the subject — says this:

With the advent of the tennis shirt, however, the upturned collar took on a whole new purpose. In 1929, René Lacoste, the French 7-time Grand Slam champion, decided that the stiff dress shirts and ties usually worn by tennis players were too cumbersome and uncomfortable for the tennis court. Instead, he designed a loosely-knit pique cotton shirt with an un-starched, flat protruding collar and a longer shirt-tail in back than in front. This came to be known as the tennis shirt. Lacoste’s design called for a thick pique collar that one would wear turned up in order to block the Sun from one’s neck. Thus, the tennis shirt’s upturned collar was originally designed by the inventor of the tennis shirt, himself, for ease and comfort on the tennis court, aiding the player by helping to prevent sunburn and hyperthermia.

Gradually, as tennis shirts became more popular and were produced more widely, their use transcended tennis and was adopted for golf, polo, other sports, and everyday life. As the tennis shirt entered the popular culture, wearers were less apt to turn up their collar to block the Sun if not wearing the shirt during sport or outdoor activity. Thus, most people began to wear a tennis shirt without the collar turned up, or turning them up only when involved in sport.

Could we be wrong about all this? Could popping your collar be old-school and therefore completely awesome? No. It’s not sunny inside. It just makes you look like a dick if you wear it around the office that way. And there are a couple of guys in the office who “pop any damn collar they please,” as Chris puts it, invariably foaming at the mouth.

One guy was wearing a polo shirt with a popped collar at the boat cruise. Now, our director of marketing is no old fogey. In fact, he’s younger than I am. But as we were docking at the end of the cruise after a few hours of drinking and our slick collar-popper, who was chatting up a couple of cute honeys, he could take no more. He shouted the guy’s name. He turned around. “Fix your damn collar!” the director shouted. Obediently, he reached up and turned it down.

It was my single favorite instance of a guy exercising his alpha dog status simply to make someone stop pissing him off and just roll over and show his belly. I couldn’t have agreed more, and in fact, I told him so. He mentioned that he’d ordered a T-shirt from PalmerCash with the slogan “Now remember Billy, only retards wear their collars up.” So, not only did he have a visceral disgust for the popped collar, but he also had a weakness for the novelty T-shirt. I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to the director of marketing.

For further reading, check out Pooped Collars Are Lame.com or consult your local library.



13 Responses to “Only retards wear their collars up”

  1. 1 Marlene

    I wear my sunglasses in the underground part of our Skytrain if I’m sitting across from people. If they’re staring at me I feel less weird.

  2. There is no possible way that Mr. Lacoste didn’t get made fun of the first time he popped that collar.

  3. Marlene: You’re on the SkyTrain, though. It’s got windows and sunshine, right? Sunglasses are okay as long as you’re not underground. I wear them on the bus.

    VanillaMummy: You know what? René LaCoste can go screw himself. Wearing a tie on the tennis court is ultra-old-school. That’s wear it’s at. (That’s not a typo. “Wear It’s At” is the name of my new fashion roundup show, coming to cable television this fall.)

  4. 4 Dave

    That may not be a typo, but surely “Pooped Collars Are Lame.com” is?

    😉

  5. Well, if you are going for old school, why not play tennis with the heads of foxes. (Or midgets, take your pick)

  6. “Pooped Collars Are Lame.com” is, as has been pointed out by at least two people, definitely a typo. But the URL is valid, and I like it too much to change it.

    Is this fox head thing for real?

  7. Absolutely not. But I think it would definetly increase viewers. (Because who actually watches male tennis?)

  8. I could never wear that t-shirt, since few things are more retarded than skipping the comma before a direct address. Why should I remember Billy?

    Seriously, it’s as if these people think there’s no difference between “Eat, my friends” and “Eat my friends”.

    And I can’t believe not a single person pointed out this rather important syntactical detail to Kevin Rowland before he released “Come on Eileen”.

  9. “I could never wear that t-shirt, since few things are more retarded than skipping the comma before a direct address. Why should I remember Billy?”

    Sometimes I really love the people who read this site.

  10. 10 J-Bob

    I thought popped collars went out of style with pastel shirts, and a suit with penny loafers and no socks back in the 80’s.

    People need to learn that some things retro should stay that way.
    Do Not Bring Them Back!
    seriously folks…
    Old school sneakers: yes, very acceptable
    T-shirts with the Genreal Lee, or other stuff we grew up with: Hells Yeeah
    Men wearing hotpants like Wham did in that video: HELL NO!!!
    Popped collars is up there with the last one people.

  11. 11 archangel

    Peter,

    I’ve noticed you refer to several of your coworkers on your blog. I am amazed at the audacity of openly discussing people you work with, and then openly telling people at your ofice about your blog. The individuals you speak of would have to be complete fools to not realize it is them that you speak of. Your attempts to not mention names, but rather identify people by code is clearly a feigned attempt to appear as if you don’t want to reveal their identity, when in fact you aim to achieve the complete opposite. Refering to individuals you work with as “retards” will soon bite you in the ass. I assume you are prepared for the inevitable confrontation that is sure to happen in the near future when one of them finally gets wind of your posts. I suggest you exercise caution.

  12. I’d guess you were one of my co-workers yourself, except that you write pretty well.

  13. 13 Bill

    Since my name is Bill (billy) the shirt is even more perfect for me!


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