You don’t have to convince us that the men’s turtleneck is one of the best pieces in the fall wardrobe. But we understand that your man may need a little persuasion to adopt that most autumnal of men’s sweaters.
Don’t blame him for the hesitation. Culturally, the turtleneck gets a bad rap. While undeserved, we see where it comes from. Decades of pop culture have spurned the turtleneck as the garment of choice for beret-wearing jazz musicians, or out-of-touch tweedy professors. Due to these rather unfair associations, it’s understandable why some men feel hesitant to add a turtleneck to their own rotation.
But they’re wrong. The turtleneck is an honest, hard-wearing piece of clothing with thoroughly unpretentious origins. If your man requires some convincing, you can start with a simple history lesson.
Irish fisherman who required extra protection from the wind, rain, and cold while trawling the North Atlantic were the first to wear turtlenecks. Later, the merchant mariners of WWII who helped keep the supply lines open between the United States and Great Britain adopted the sweater. In fact, the turtleneck had no fashionable associations until it was picked up by the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, who liked to wear theirs with double-breasted blazers.
Use the turtleneck’s workwear origins as a starting point when convincing your man to take a chance. You can explain that it can be worn with the same pieces of clothing he’d otherwise pair to his favorite men’s flannel shirt. For instance, a pair of broken-in work boots and his favorite men’s jeans will work just as well with a turtleneck as they do with a flannel shirt or a button-down.
After you’ve made him comfortable with the idea of incorporating the turtleneck into his casual wear, you can make the case that the turtleneck provides an easier way to get dressed up. As a starting point, demonstrate that the turtleneck can take the place of a men’s dress shirt and be worn with chinos or trousers and a blue blazer. Best of all, it takes some of the work out of the outfit: unlike dress shirts, turtleneck sweaters never require ironing.
If he’s on his way to mastering the turtleneck and a blazer look, you can see if he’s ready for a more ambitious step: pairing the turtleneck to a suit. This look isn’t as easy to pull off as the others, and it also doesn’t lend itself so easily to the office. But it can be a great way to look polished at a social event or a dinner out, without appearing stuffy or having to put too much effort into the look. If he’s feeling skeptical, you can make the case that wearing a turtleneck with a suit means that he can skip the tie.
If you plan on making the practical case for the turtleneck, stick to these two points: warmth and travel. The turtleneck is among the warmest of sweaters, thanks to the sheer amount of coverage it provides. Its trademark neck will guard one of the most vulnerable parts of the body from wind and cold. Even better, the turtleneck makes it easy to wear thermal waffle knit henleys or long underwear shirts underneath as a base layer.
By adopting a turtleneck, he can also smooth out some of the more troubling aspects of travel. Because of its knit nature, a turtleneck isn’t likely to wrinkle the way that a dress shirt or a button-down would. Rather than searching his hotel room for an iron upon arrival, he can simply unpack the turtleneck and pull it on, knowing that there won’t be a wrinkle in sight.