Flippin' Out

What does the collar on a summer shirt signify? Interpretations go neck and neck.

Not everyone is doing it. Not even a majority. Maybe one in 15. But this is enough to affect the scene. When this many collars are up, it changes the meaning of the collars that are down, because then they're not only down but they're decidedly not up. As when there is silence in a place used to chaos, like a stadium, that silence is charged—it's a reaction, whether it wants to be or not.

The collar situation isn't a problem that requires a solution, but there is a path that is making more and more sense: the half-up, half-down look. Call it tousled collar. This can be up on one side and down on the other, up in front and down in back, or levitating between up and down. For a few minutes, I thought I was pioneering the look, but it already has a toehold. A tousled collar was featured in a Lacoste ad, and it can be seen on city streets and stylish mannequins. It's a conscious style, committing to non-commitment, perfect for an age of hedged identity. Conflicted prep. The look is an acknowledgment that for all breezy good times, there are, somewhere, equal and opposite stormy tough times.


Andy Selsberg does stand-up once in a while. He teaches English at City University of New York.

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