1970s Funky Fashion From Pop Tops


'I blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top; cut my heel, had to cruise on back home'. - Jimmy Buffet, Margaritaville

For those of us old enough to remember, soda cans and beer cans from the 1970s had a pull-tab that peeled completely off the can. This old style ring-pull had sharp edges that frequently cut bare feet because there were millions of them littering sidewalks and beaches all over the world. Luckily in the decades that followed, this terrible design was phased out for the secured pop tab that we use today

old design aluminum pop top - escama studio

A fifty year old discarded pop top found on a sidewalk last week.

One cultural byproduct of the old pull-tabs was oddball craft projects. Kids in the 1970s may remember that you could easily make things with the old pop tabs. All you had to do was fold one tab on top of the other and the next thing you knew, you had a groovy room divider or door curtain to separate you from your annoying little brother! These upcycled pull tabs also opened up a world of funky fashion design for teens.......



On our blog we often pay homage to eclectic fashion designers who inspire us like Paco Rabanne and pioneering handbag designers. Today we pay homage to our funky 1970s forefather, the man (the legend!) who literally wrote the book on pop topping. This man went by the name of the Pop-Top Terp. His creations are a forerunner of our own metallic clothing.

chainmail for dogs

Photos courtesy of Pop Topping! By Pop-Top Terp and Kenneth Patton, ©1975, Chilton Book Company, Radnor, PA. The book is out of print but if you must have it, copies can still be found on Amazon.

1970s hat made from aluminum ring pulls
1970s chainmail vest made from pop tabs










  • Trudy

    I knew Pop Top Terp well. He was a talented and creative artist. He was also kind, gentle, and a wonderful friend. Sadly, he died of AIDS in the early 1980s just when the epidemic began. I remember visiting him in St. Vincent’s Hospital and having to wear a mask because they didn’t know exactly what he had. But he always had a smile. He was a treasure in so many ways. I will always miss him.

  • David Freiman

    I just found this 1970 article from TIME magazine.

  • Lisa T

    OMG. I remember Pop-Top Terp coming to our elementary school in Flushing to give a presentation about his work. Definitely unforgettable.

  • Elwanda

    OMG Flash Back
    1970’ PopTop Terp
    I modeled for him inNYC St John’s the Devine church on 110 street

  • David Freiman

    When I was a kid in the early 1970’s, I attended arts workshops at the Cloisters medieval museum in Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan, New York. The first year of workshops they hired fine artists to teach as Masters, teen assistants were called Journeyman and the students were called Apprentices following the old traditions.

    I assume it was Pop-Top Terp (I only recall calling him Pop-Top) who taught our armor making workshop. We dutifully collected our pop-tops and scoured the streets and sidewalks for more and under his tutelage created our various chain mail vests, shirts and cowls. I also remembered we visited his gallery and saw the fashion designs like those depicted here. I remember him as a very kind and patient teacher.

    The following year, no Pop-Top, and we made our armor out of spare materials and hardware. I also remember that only in the first year had cloisonne, stained glass, and other fine arts workshops. I believe we attended workshops for many summers and the medieval festival for eight consecutive years. Without Pop-Top, it was never the same.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.