When women think about layering, we tend to think of the shirt as being the foundation. Whether that happens to be a simple cotton t-shirt, a button-down or even a fitted blouse, it just seems natural that the discussion around any layered look should start with the shirt.
But why does the shirt get to have all the fun? After all, a turtleneck can also anchor a layered look while providing more warmth and coverage, particularly to the neck.
That's not to say that every turtleneck can take the place of a shirt in your layered look. If you're going to wear a turtleneck in place of a shirt, avoid those turtlenecks that are more loosely cut in a tunic profile, or made from a heavier, chunkier knit. You'll instead want to select a turtleneck that is more fitted, lighter in weight, and either made from cotton or a finer-knit, mid-weight wool (and it goes without saying that it should also be long-sleeved).
Once you've found that ideal turtleneck, here are some ideas for how you can wear the turtleneck as a great layering shirt.
The women's cardigan sweater is a natural place to start, as it's often the first layering piece you'll reach for as summer turns to autumn (and the last you'll put into storage when spring slips into summer). Thanks to the cardigan's buttoned nature, it can easily be slipped over a turtleneck. And due to the turtleneck's silhouette, you'll receive more warmth than you would from simply wearing your cardigan against a shirt.
As the season begins, match your turtleneck with a finer knit cotton cardigan. As the season progresses and temperatures drop, consider moving up to a chunkier, heavier knit cardigan with a shawl collar, which can still be slipped comfortably over your turtleneck base layer.
The fleece quarter zip is another natural favorite for autumn and winter, and it's not hard to see why. You can create a season-appropriate look in an instant by simply pulling it over a t-shirt.
But do this same move with a turtleneck, and you'll wind up with a look that's more flattering thanks to the way the turtleneck frames the face, and warmer because of the extra coverage that a turtleneck provides. And thanks to the fleece's quarter zip construction, there is just enough of an opening at the turtleneck's top to keep you comfortable.
The turtleneck + blazer combination is a classic look that's made a recent comeback. You can capitalize on it by pairing a finer knit cotton or wool turtleneck in a solid color with your own favorite blazer. For a classically preppy look, consider matching a more brightly colored solid turtleneck to a blue hopsack blazer with gold buttons. Or if you're looking for a sharp and modern professional look, wear a neutrally colored solid turtleneck with a black or dark grey blazer and a pair of pumps or workplace-ready flats.
The advantage that a turtleneck holds over a shirt in terms of layering is most apparent when a parka is in the picture. If conditions are cold enough to merit wearing a parka, simply slipping a shirt on underneath will rarely provide enough warmth. You'll have to add a sweater to the mix, too—an extra piece that makes putting together your whole ensemble just a little more complicated. You can make the process easier by instead starting with a long-sleeved turtleneck as your base layer, which can even take the need for further layering out of the picture entirely, saving you valuable time without sacrificing any warmth.