For being a wardrobe essential, turtlenecks haven't always had the best reputation. Far too often, it's been scorned as the garment-of-choice for self-absorbed beatniks or out-of-touch intellectuals. We're here to reclaim the turtleneck, and prove that no beret is required to enjoy one of the most practical, inspiring, and easy pieces of the fall/winter wardrobe. Without further delay, here are 10 reasons why we love a good turtleneck sweater.
When your morning starts behind schedule, the last thing you want is to carve out five minutes to iron an oxford shirt or pinpoint dress shirt. Mercifully, the knit nature of a turtleneck or mock neck top takes the necessity of ironing off of the table. This also makes the turtleneck a great choice for situations in which ironing won't be an option, like packing or travel.
Is there any piece of clothing that comes with more layering options than the turtleneck? Picture it: start with a t-shirt or even thermal underwear, add a turtleneck, top that with a sport coat or a flannel shirt, and finish it all off with a warm winter coat or jacket. That's four layers in no time flat. The way we think of it, every turtleneck can be a layering turtleneck.
When it comes to blazers, sport coats, and even suits, the turtleneck can make a great alternative to the suit. As we've previously established, wearing one cuts out the need to iron–and the requirement to don a tie. Think of it as the most dressed-up you can get without having to tie a tie. However, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Striped turtlenecks can be worn with solid suits and sport coats for a little extra flair, while solid turtlenecks will mesh better with patterned suits and sport coats.
Lest all this talk of pairing turtlenecks with suits and sport coats gives you the idea that it's solely the preserve of the business world, remember that turtlenecks began as practical, hardwearing clothing worn by sailors and alpine climbers. Indeed, you may find that layering a turtleneck under a quarter zip fleece or fleece vest can provide all the warmth and wind protection your next outdoor jaunt requires. Embrace the outdoorsy side of the turtleneck by choosing its more casual cousin, the mock neck turtleneck.
"Smart casual" is one of those buzzy dress codes that sounds easy on paper, but can prove to be more difficult in person. It's not quite business wear, but it's not jeans and a t-shirt either. What's a person to do? Wear a turtleneck, of course. The face-framing nature of a turtleneck sweater ensures a clean, put-together look, whether it's being worn under a sport coat or on its own with jeans and a pair of chukka boots.
From Steve McQueen in Bullitt to Audrey Hepburn in anything to Nora Ephron and Steve Jobs in real life, there's a whole pantheon of American actors, writers, and innovators that have hitched their wagon to the turtleneck. Trying to imitate (or pay homage) to a style icon can be a tricky road to walk down, but in the case of the turtleneck it's made easy. You don't have to worry about getting a bespoke suit or an haute couture gown: just don one of the easiest and most accessible layering pieces for men and women around.
Speaking of Steve Jobs, the turtleneck may have no greater friend than denim. Like a good pair of jeans, a turtleneck can look good whether it's fitting close to the body for a defined look, or is deliberately more relaxed-fitting for a laidback, almost slouchy touch of cool. As a knit, turtlenecks automatically stand out against the woven nature of denim, creating an instant contrast that heightens visual interest. Jeans are also a great way to bring out that rugged, outdoorsy side of the turtleneck: try matching it to a pair of hiking boots with speed hook eyelets.
This won't be news to you, but necks get cold. And when a cold winter wind hits, it can feel as if every part of that icy blast is aimed directly below your chin. By covering this weak point (scarves aren't always enough) the turtleneck provides an insulation boost you'll appreciate all winter long.
The turtleneck sweater is just as integral to après ski as a mug of hot chocolate or a melty fondue. No matter how many black diamonds you managed to conquer over the evening or afternoon, your post-ski celebrations just won't have the same feeling without at least one turtleneck in the picture.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the annual viewing of It's a Wonderful Life, leaving cookies out for St. Nick–every one of these Yule time activities gets a heighted dose of holiday cheer if done while wearing a turtleneck sweater.