Monday, 9 January 2012

Peter Pan: the collar that never grows up

"Necklines always make headlines ... Undoubtedly one woman may look charming and youthful in a Peter Pan collar - another may look as though she were mutton dressed up as lamb; one may look very chic in a polo neck and another may look as if she were a kennel-maid manque. Only hats, when they are in fashion, can do as much to help a woman or to kill her looks."
'Collars and Necklines', Janey Ironside, A Fashion Alphabet

Thanks to ladies Alexa and Zooey, there seems to have been one kind of neckline dominating the fashion headlines recently: the Peter Pan collar. Favoured in the 1930s, it was picked up again in the 1960s when a generation of young starlets used them to emphasise their wide-eyed youth or play against their not-so-innocent reputation. What neckline could look more charming on Mia, Catherine or Marianne? 

Perhaps it's because I'm reaching the age where Peter Pan collars could make me look (as Janey warns) as mutton dressed as lamb but I'm finally beginning to get bored of the endless rehashes of this style used as a short cut to 'indie' style. At least Mary Quant made her collars more interesting by making them detachable. 

For collar alternatives take a look at Fiona looking internet fabulous at the Save Our Shoes blog in her Cleo Ferin Mercury detachable illustrated number, or Refinery 29's four collar DIYs which had me well and truly messing up my Amazon recommendations by looking for collar tips.

However, there's still a lot more scope to get creative with collars. Janey Ironside's Fashion Alphabet lists a massive 49 different types of collars and necklines including Bryonic, Bertha, Cossack, Puritan and Highwayman collars. Such poetic-sounding names and styles are crying out to be reintroduced into more common circulation. When I look at these beautiful alternatives, it makes me vow to be more adventurous in my collar of choice. Afterall, as Janey writes, "there is vital importance in a neckline".

(via Flickr)

Surely now Royals are apparently our style icons once again, Di's favourite kind of collar - the piecrust - is due for a revival? (I meant Princess Diana but it's worn here by Lady Diana Rigg). 

(Vogue November 1971)

Don't you think this (unnamed) model looks a bit like Vogue's cover girl last month, Florence Welch?

Though perhaps a Steve Strange Elizabethan-style ruff is taking it all a step too far. 


  1. I wish I could wear them. But if you've got cleavage a neckline that high makes you look like you're carrying a shelf around instead of tits. Shame, because I always really like them on other people.

  2. I actually find Peter Pan collars to be quite good with my quite busty bosoms - I think it can distract from them a bit (see Carol Lorell above). What I really can't wear is high collars. While I'm craving a Cossack style collar in the style of Julie Christie, they look awful on my stubby neck. And no matter how many times I adore how they look on Audrey, the combination of my neck, plus my cleavage, means polo necks are forever out of fashion for me.

  3. Agree on polo necks and Cossack styles. Once you have a couple of rockmelons on your chest wave bubye to polo neck jumpers FOREVER. BTW you do not have a stubby neck hon and you always look awesome :)

  4. Aw, thank you! Alas there is no escaping the fact I have a very short neck (god knows I've tried to pretend otherwise!)

  5. Replies
    1. @ Siany - LAWL

      @ Frankie - I guess everyone has a flaw. I can honestly say have never looked at you and thought 'dear GOD she has a stubby neck...' though !!!


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