Can You Wear a Turtleneck to Work?  | Lands' End

Can You Wear a Turtleneck At Work?

When the word "turtleneck" is mentioned, your first instinct may be to imagine it being worn during a weekend ski getaway or a holiday party. However, this iconic piece of clothing is just as wearable in professional settings and situations. It should be a staple in every wardrobe because of its versatility to be styled for business, pleasure, and casual. If you keep some of the tips below in mind, you'll be wearing turtlenecks to work as a pro in no time.

Consider the type of fabric

First, you'll want to think about the material of the turtleneck. We've got nothing against turtlenecks made from performance fabrics—in fact, that's exactly the kind of turtleneck you'll want to bring on that aforementioned ski trip—but if this turtleneck is destined for office wear, you'll want to stick to wool, silk, or cotton turtleneck

You also don't want the turtleneck's fabric to be too heavy or chunky. Fuzzy, cable knit turtleneck sweaters are precisely what you want to wear at home in front of the fire, but for professional settings look for fabrics that are lighter and have a slight sheen. Turtlenecks made from a cotton-modal blend or even 100% silk are excellent for office wear for precisely this reason.

Consider the cut

The next qualification to consider is the cut. Is the turtleneck cut more loosely, or even in a tunic shape? The looser the cut, the more off-duty its look: save those tunic turtlenecks for the weekend. Likewise, you're going to want to look for turtlenecks that have full-length, or at the very least, ¾ quarter-length sleeves. Turtlenecks without sleeves fall on the more casual side of the spectrum and should be saved for off-duty wear unless your workplace is more casual.

Consider the color

Regarding the question of pattern, we have one simple rule: keep it solid. Solid turtlenecks will always appear more professional. However, if your workplace leans a bit more casual and you're more pattern-inclined, look for something in a subtle, smaller-scale pattern like checks or stripes versus a pattern that is big, bold, or busy.

Then there's the matter of what else you plan to wear your turtleneck with. This is the area in which the turtleneck truly shines. It's a remarkably versatile piece of clothing that can be paired with pencil skirts, chino pants, and slacks alike.

While the turtleneck can certainly be worn by itself, one of our favorite classic moves is to pair it with a blazer. For a more modern, contemporary take on business casual, match it to a solid-colored blazer in black, navy, or grey. For a look that combines fun preppy appeal with business casual looks, wear it under a navy hopsack blazer featuring brass buttons.

Consider the classic turtleneck

The classic turtleneck is an office favorite since the material is thin, its form-fitting, the neck is slender, and it can easily be tucked into anything. This type of turtleneck looks best when layered. If you have an office-appropriate dress that has short sleeves or a low neckline, the classic turtleneck would look great underneath. If you don’t mind wearing a blazer all day, this turtleneck is the perfect choice for that. You can even layer it under a round-neck sweater. It’s a twist on the preppy look that uses a collared shirt under the sweater to pop the collar over the sweater’s neckline. By wearing a turtleneck instead of a collared shirt, it looks chicer. 

If you’re not a fan of tucking because of the bumpy texture it can cause underneath your skirt or pants, there are turtleneck bodysuits that you can snap at the bottom for a smoother look. 

Consider a mock neck

For those that can’t commit to wearing a turtleneck all day because of the high close-fitting neck, a mock neck is a great alternative. The neck on a mock turtleneck goes only halfway up. Mock necks are made in both lightweight and chunky material. For a more office look, we suggest tucking it under a pair of slacks and completing the look with a pair of loafers.

Consider a turtleneck dress

While chunky, baggy turtleneck dresses are all the rave around wintertime, it certainly doesn’t have a place in an office setting. When looking for turtleneck dresses, be sure that it is a midi or knee-length cut. A midi-length turtleneck dress looks amazing with a pair of tights underneath and a blazer thrown over. You could also do a wrap-around scarf instead of a blazer.

Consider a cowl neck

Because cowl necks are usually thicker and more baggy-fitting, you have to be creative about how you style these for the office. These types of sweaters look best when paired with the collared shirt we mentioned earlier. Use a peplum or tunic type of collar shirt underneath so that the bottom of the shirt shows underneath the cowl neck. This pair looks great with form-fitting dress pants and heels. 

There are a few other, more utilitarian reasons for incorporating the turtleneck into your work wardrobe. One of those is that it makes an excellent "break in case of emergency" outfit. Imagine that you are wearing a fitted white blouse to work, and just before that big presentation you happen to spill a mug's worth of piping hot coffee over it (this happens to the best of us). This is a tricky situation, but if you've stashed a ready-to-go turtleneck in a spare office drawer you've got an instant solution to your problem.

That spare office drawer isn't the only place worth stashing away a turtleneck, either. Because of its knit quality, a turtleneck won't wrinkle when folded like a shirt or blouse would. For this reason, the turtleneck is also one of our favorite things to pack during a work trip. And if you travel frequently enough to warrant having a packed bag on hand and ready to go, you can hardly pick a better piece of business clothing to include in it than the turtleneck.


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