Gawker has a riveting post today on popped collars. A troubled young man wrote the final arbiter of fashion — the Wall Street Journal — and expressed his anxiety on the topic: Was it pretentious? Was it stylish? Should he assert his individuality and lay his collar flat like a man, or let the women in his life dictate the full expression of his metrosexuality? 

Teri Agins set the young man at ease: 

There's nothing foppish about turning up the collar on leather jackets, coats and some shirts. Check yourself out in the mirror from all angles to experiment with ways to pop up that collar ever so slightly, so that it looks stylish and not too studied.

If done well, the look, which works best on shirts and jackets that have stiff collars, can create a curve around the back of your neck that frames your face nicely and makes your neck look longer — with the added bonus of minimizing jowls and double chins. To get the hang of it, study the look of models in fashion magazines and catalogs.

In college, I mocked boys who popped collars. My judgmentalism did not extend to joining Facebook groups like Popped Collars are Gay or P.A.P.C. – People Against Popped Collars, which defined one's allegiances in my school's culture wars, but I was privately judgy and my contempt always deepened as the shirt shade lightened towards pastel. 

Keep in mind, however, that this was in the happy days when I still owned a pair of comfortable shoes. Today I commiserated about cakey foundation with a cosmetics salesman named Mannie. Today I envy New York men their handbags.

I do take issue with Agin's assertion that popped collars are still stylish, though. Agin seems to think they're classic but I think they went out with Xanga. I have reached way back into the caffeine-clouded empty spaces of my brain, and I believe I have not seen a stylish man pop his collar in years. 

Am I — obviously the arbiter of fashion, and not the WSJ — wrong about this? 

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Alisa Harris

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