It's not so much a secret as it is a state of mind. The turned up collar is something of a styling trick that does, in fact, take some finesse to pull off properly. You see, today's popped collars (like those seen above) are not like the ones sported by preps in the 1980s—they're more relaxed and nonchalant. They should look and feel more natural, messy even. Maybe just the back of the collar is up and the tips are still down at the sides. Or one side is higher than the other. Imperfection is key. It's why this modern interpretation of the pop works so well on work shirts, denim jackets and relaxed blazers. And don't forget that the origins of the upturned collar are rooted in functionality. It's an ideal way to keep sun off the back of your neck or to keep a brisk wind at bay. Which is why outwear like pea coats and trench coats come with collars made to be popped. Of course, once you're indoors, you may feel the need to pull your collar down. Go with that feeling.
(Photos: Christopher Fenimore)
James Dean's character, Jim Stark, sported a popped collar in the 1950 film Rebel Without a Cause.