Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mad Max Beyond Collarbone

I couldn't help but notice Mel Gibson's gaudy shirt collar display at his recent Court appearance.

There has always been a special hatred in my heart when a dress shirt collar is  spread outside a suit jacket (or blazer).  Unlike most other fashion rules, there is no compromise or exceptions to this one--it always looks awful.

I'm not quite sure where this style originated, but based on my (unscientific) research, it appears as if long, open, pointed collars originated in the 1920's.  I have seen the style referred to as the "Barrymore collar",
apparently after it was made famous by the actor John Barrymore (1882-1942), shown below.

My own opinion is that the style has its most direct origins in zoot suit fashions in the 40's, which lingered into gangster clothing culture, even unto this day, in some form or another.

I submit that the most famous proponents of this collar style in the 50's--Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis--owe their sartorial origins to zoot suit culture.

Needless to say, the "Barrymore collar", has become most widely associated with  the 70's era when it became mainstream. Eccch.

As a curiosity,  this style existed in Israel well into the 90's for formal occasions. As a Westerner, this always appeared funny to me, and people I knew explained it as a strange relic from the 70's. But, as I pointed out above, the collar style had existed before.  I actually think that the Israeli collar resulted from its adoption by Zionist elders in the 50's.
David Ben Gurion

Unfortunately, like an unwanted weed, the collar still seems to crop up every once in a while. Mr. Miyagi wore it in the Karate Kid (1985); but a lot of older men become sartorial time capsules, in this case, from the 1970's.

I don't quite know why Pacino wore it in Scarface since the storyline takes place well into the early 1980's.

I suppose Tony Montana is getting his style cues from both gangster culture and Studio 54, both of which embrace the Barrymore collar.

I was aghast to see the collar in a Ralph Lauren show on a couple models a few seasons ago, but thankfully, it otherwise very rarely appears  on the runway or in mainstream designer collections.  If you wear a suit jacket/blazer without a tie, the collar should always be worn inside the jacket, preferably with a high stiff collar. I mean, would you rather look like him

or him


-The Scandal