Michael B Jordan, Tom Jones and John Lennon can pull one off, but what about the rest of us?
Priya Elan: ‘I’m confronting my knitwear fear in a turtleneck.’ Photograph: David Newby/The Guardian
Priya Elan: ‘I’m confronting my knitwear fear in a turtleneck.’ Photograph: David Newby/The Guardian
I have a confession to make. Turtlenecks make me deeply uncomfortable. There’s something about the cut of a high-necked jumper that makes me feel as if I’m not quite doing it right.
The turtleneck has a deceptive simplicity that makes you think it’s easy to pull off. But the figure-skimming high-collared top demands a certain posture; without it, you can end up looking like a beanbag. The turtleneck is the opposite of comfort wear – it is unforgiving. Relax while wearing one, and boom: a double chin makes itself known.
Owners of a Hollywood torso, such as Michael B Jordan, favour an almost muscle-fit turtleneck. Steve Jobs inspired a generation of techbros with his plain black version. But historically the turtleneck articulated a kind of modish elegance: on Steve McQueen in Bullitt or Tom Jones in his hip-thrusting prime. It was a shorthand for style with a hint of rebellion: Andy Warhol, or John Lennon in a white one at his wedding to Yoko. Wearing one is simple… if you’re an iconic male celebrity.
For the rest of us, I’m quite fond of the “hatchling” trend, where you layer your turtleneck under a unbuttoned shirt – the fancier the shirt, the plainer the turtleneck. Or try placing a chain over the turtleneck so the line of vision isn’t so focused on your torso.
And, obviously, always stand up straight if you can. Today I’m really going for it and confronting my biggest knitwear fear. The turtleneck in question has a bold 70s pattern on it. I purposefully push myself up to stand a little bit taller, just in case I’m confronted by any unsightly lumps or bumps. Not so scary, after all.
One of the easiest ways of wearing a turtle neck is to pair it with a suit. Doing so exudes class and sophistication while still maintaining that masculine effect you get with a fitted suit.
Go for a matching trouser and blazer combo, choosing a slim fit that shows off the results of your latest workout. Replacing a traditional shirt with a turtleneck will have you standing out from the crowd without breaking the formal dress code.
When it comes to shoes, make sure you go smart and keep them looking sleek with polish. Match the colour of your turtleneck with your shoes to piece the outfit together with matching elements.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, add a pair of embellished cufflinks for instant flair.
Rob’s top tip: Avoid pairing a black turtleneck with a suit of the same shade, otherwise you may end up looking like you’re going to a funeral. If you are keen on wearing a black suit, choose a grey or navy turtleneck instead.
SMART CASUAL VIBES
Whether you’ve got a date planned or meeting up with your colleagues, some occasions call for a blend of casual and business fashion. A turtleneck is perfect for this as it can easily be styled to suit the majority of events.
Going for an all-black outfit may not be a great idea when wearing a suit, it looks stylish and sophisticated when styled in a more laid-back way. For an effortlessly trendy outfit, tuck a fitted turtleneck into some slim black jeans. Turn them up slightly when you’ve put your Chelsea boots on to show off your footwear and keep the bottoms fitted.
They coat is critical when it comes to this look, helping to achieve the perfect balance of smart and casual. Woollen peacoats are the top choice for this, but choose navy or grey to lighten up the completed look.
Rob’s top tip: Mix it up a bit by adding a simple brown belt. It may be tempting to go for black here, but this will just cause the accessory to blend into the background. You’d be surprised at how adding such a small element can really improve the entire outfit and make you look incredibly dapper.
You may think it’s impossible to wear a turtleneck for a casual occasion, but you should think again. It’s an essential piece that can be worn for many different events, including heading to a beer garden.
Layering is crucial for this, which is why a bomber shirt is perfect. As the name suggests, these jackets are – obviously – part bomber and part shirt, resulting in a lightweight piece that’s perfect as the weather warms up. When worn over a turtleneck, it makes the perfect transitional outfit when moving from winter to spring.
Slim fit jeans complement most people as they follow your silhouette but aren’t uncomfortably skin-tight. Use a belt to add some extra pizazz to the look before chucking on your favourite pair of trainers to tone down the look for a more casual feel.
Rob’s top tip: If you aren’t the type of person who likes fitted clothes, look for a loose fit turtleneck. If you can’t find one that specifies the fit, you can go up a size and roll up the sleeves for a slouchy, casual look.
OUTFIT FOUR- ATHLEISURE
Turtlenecks are sometimes thought to be stuffy or serious, but this is actually far from the truth. Whether you’re jetting off and need a comfy outfit for the plane or just chilling with your friends, a turtleneck is a surprisingly understated piece if you style it the right way.
Cuffed joggers are very flattering, giving you that casual athleisure vibe without drowning your physique. You may not think a turtleneck suits them, but the fitted nature of both pieces make them perfect for each other.
Add a watch, roll up your sleeves and sling a backpack over your shoulders for a practical yet stylish outfit. Finish it off with a contemporary baseball cap and mesh trainers for a laidback look that’s guaranteed to impress.
If the weather is on the colder side, pair the look with a sporty padded jacket. It’ll keep you warm while looking cool.
Rob’s top tip: Here at RG, we love padded jackets and think they are a wardrobe essential, but we understand they aren’t to everyone’s taste. While it’s good to experiment with new styles, stick with a traditional bomber jacket or track top should you prefer these styles.
You can wear it in sleek, classic ways or you can go for a more casual or street style look.
Whether you choose to downplay or accentuate your look with the turtleneck, you are definitely going to look great wearing it.
For some ideas and style inspiration, here are six different ways you can rock this timeless piece.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPE OF TURTLENECK
Choosing the right type of turtleneck depends on the function and look one prefers. To find the right turtleneck you should consider the type of fabric, colour, pattern, and weave.
For a formal or business look, go for the classic thin knit turtlenecks in neutral colors.
For a casual look, go for the chunky knit turtlenecks and choose any colour you are comfortable wearing but ensure they go well with the rest of your outfit.
TURTLENECK WITH A TWO OR THREE PIECE SUIT
A simple, two-piece or the more sophisticated three-piece suit styled with a dark turtleneck is a perfect choice for any man who wants to achieve the classic look.
TURTLENECK WITH A DOUBLE-BREASTED SUIT
Layering your double-breasted suit with a turtleneck is a cool way to dress up this style.
Take it to the next level of refinement by opting for a classic double monk strap to match with your suit colour or a dark leather Oxford shoes.
TURTLENECK WITH JEANS, CHINOS, OR DRESS PANTS
Pairing your turtleneck with nothing but jeans, chinos or dress pants is a cool way to dress down this style in a smart casual way.
TURTLENECK WITH COAT, BLAZER, SPORTS COAT, OR SUIT JACKET
The coat, blazer, sports coat and suit jacket all do well when layered over turtlenecks. They make a turtleneck look instantly more professional.
I personally love wearing my thick turtleneck top a lot with sports jacket considering that they are the most loose fitting option, however, it surely goes with all four pieces – just ensure you choose a thin turtleneck for blazers.
TURTLENECK WITH LEATHER JACKET & BOMBER JACKET
Leather jackets and bomber jackets are super versatile no matter which color they come in and yes, they go with turtlenecks.
Mix and match them in style either by pairing your turtleneck with jeans and a black leather jacket or by pairing it with a dark leather bomber jacket and black wool pants to ooze class and sophistication.
Kobi O. Mbagwu (Mr. Kobi) is a professional image consultant, menswear blogger & entrepreneur. He blogs at Mrkoachman.com
Chris Paul is one of the NBA's most stylish players, and he's got more than a few opinions when it comes to wearing clothes. He believes classic kicks like Jordan 1's are the best to dress up (agree) and that when it comes to turtlenecks, there's only one rule guys need to adhere to, regardless of how they're built:
So there you have it: You really just need a neck. But we all have necks (or you should). So how come some guys can pull off a turtleneck with all the swagger of a riding-high ’70s Bee Gees brother but others just look like they're sporting a knit neck brace? Paul's actual point is that a guy needs a distinct neck, of reasonable length, to pull off a turtleneck like a pro. Sometimes a neck is just too short and wide, and when combined with a too-high turtleneck, the results are a bunchy mess that just calls out the lack of distance between a chin and clavicle.
There are, however, a few quick fixes for any neck-challenged dudes out there. If you've got a short neck, veer away from chunky knits. Instead, something in a light merino wool or cashmere will give you the style without all the unnecessary neck-shrinking bulk. And if your neck is Brontosaurus-y, the opposite is true.
Ami turtleneck, $325, available at ssense.com
Etudes mock-neck sweater, $305, available at ssense.com
The other solution is the more on-trend option for fall—the mock neck. It's the half-sized version of the turleneck that works with any neck size while delivering a ton on style. From outdoorsy brands like Battenwear and Beams to high-end options from Rick Owens and even affordable versions from Uniqlo, there's a mock-neck option out there for anyone. It's the people's turtleneck sweater. But having a neck is still non-negotiable.
By Style Girlfriend | Last Updated: Feb 7 2021
Over the weekend, I went to a party here in New York and saw no less than four guys wearing turtlenecks! Granted, the theme was Après Ski but still! I took it as vindication that 1) they were all Style Girlfriend readers (though I didn’t ask), and 2) our team has finally convinced the men of the world that it’s time to wear turtlenecks. We’ve already covered how to wear a turtleneck with more outfits in your winter wardrobe. But what about the epitome of menswear elegance? That’s right, we’re talking about how to wear a turtleneck with a suit.
Not convinced? Seems like a look reserved for a professionally styled actor gracing the January cover of GQ? Well then here’s what ought to really seal the deal…it’s actually so f*cking easy. You literally don’t even need to know how to tie a tie. Onboard yet?!
Below, how to wear a turtleneck with a suit five ways:
Wear a turtleneck and suit in similar colors
SG Says: Our pal Brian Sacawa over at HeSpokeStyle knows the power of a turtleneck and suit combo. The gold accessories pair really nicely with the dark brown suit and dark turtleneck. The overall effect is subtle without feeling even a little bit boring.
- The thinner the knit is, the easier it will be to add as a sleek layer with a blazer, a leather jacket, or a wool topcoat.
- Stick to dark colors like black, blue, gray, or burgundy, which will suit fall and winter looks.
- The one (and subjectively only) pitfall of a turtleneck is the task of actually putting it on, so remember style your hair only after you have put on your sweater.
- Take it to the next level of refinement by opting for a double breasted jacket. Mind you, if you’re dressing up this style it’s important that the neck is folded evenly and falls flat.
Wear a turtleneck with a double-breasted suit
SG Says: Leave it to David Beckham to swerve into a more fashion forward turtleneck and suit pairing. Here, he’s got on a double-breasted suit and a turtleneck in a rich holiday party-friendly burnished orange hue. And that’s really it. As Esquire‘s Jonathan Evans puts it, “No pocket square. No tie (obviously). No extraneous accessories of any kind, actually. Because the sweater and suit are all you need to make a statement.”
Wear a turtleneck in an earth tone with a blue suit
SG Says: Taking things up a notch, Donald Glover wears a turtleneck in a hue similar to Beckham’s, but pairs his with a brighter blue suit. (Want to know how to match colors like a pro? Check out our color primer) (he’s even worn a turtleneck with shorts in July!). Oh, and if you want to know how far the artist formerly known as Childish Gambino loves turtlenecks? He even wears them in the middle of July.
via Dandy in the Bronx
Wear a grey turtleneck with a charcoal suit
SG Says: Diego from Dandy in the Bronx shows another monochromatic option when it comes to turtleneck and suit combos. In this case, shades of grey make for a look that’s all business with a dash of personality (just check out those two-tone dub monks and snazzy lapel pin).
Wear a turtleneck with a patterned sport coat
SG Says: Back to where we started! In this look from Brian from HeSpokeStyle, the suit gets swapped for a sport coat and trousers in contrasting patterns. Anchored by a camel-colored turtleneck, the whole look feels cohesive, not busy.
// Shop #SGapproved turtlenecks //
Still feeling overwhelmed? SG can help
Want more help selecting your perfect turtleneck? The team at Style Girlfriend is ready to build your personalized shopping plan.
How do you wear a zip-up turtleneck when it's unzipped? Do you fold the collar down or leave it popped up?
I don't understand why seemingly so many people think that zip-neck sweaters can be worn in multiple ways. Have you actually tried to fold the collar down? I've never seen a sweater where it was physically possible; the collar always pops back up. And have you ever seen anyone in the world wearing one in any other way?
Anyway, yes, leave it up and wear a collared shirt under it. Personally I don't share the hate in mock-neck half-zip knitwear. I think it looks good on a certain type of person where cardigans and other options don't.
I don't see the hate either. If the weather is cold and the fit is right it looks fine with a collar shirt +/- a tie.
This is what I came to say.
Why on earth would anyone wear one.
Leave the collar popped up. It's easier to remove it that way. Then you fold it up neatly, place it back into the bag it came in together with the receipt, and walk back to the store where you bought it and hand it to the cashier. You tell her you would like to return the item, whereupon she will ask you what was wrong with it. You tell the nice lady, "If I'd wanted a turtleneck, I would have gotten one without a bloody zip." She will then give you some money or store dollars for it. Choose what you want to spend that money on more wisely next time. Hope this helps.
A n interesting and functional way to add a warm layer to a Fall/Winter outfit. Here’s how to wear a turtleneck under a shirt.
Wearing it with a suit is a no brainer. People think it has an old school feel to it, but the turtleneck sweater has made a big return.
If you think a turtleneck can only be worn one way – think again. A turtleneck can also be worn under a dress shirt and blazer. Here’s a few ways to do it.
Dandy In The Bronx shirt | Koio sneakers | Ties.com no show socks
With the cold weather – layering is key. Layering a thin turtleneck under a dress shirt and blazer is one way to add some extra warmth.
A great turtleneck sweater can pretty much replace a scarf. If it’s really cold, wearing one under a dress shirt also gives you some extra layers, and of course, add a scarf if you really need it. If it’s super cold, add Uniqlo’s heattech as the base layer.
Also, if it’s not too cold out, the turtleneck can completely negate the need for a scarf.
Banana Republic trench coat ( similar ) Raen glasses | Institchu pants | turtleneck | JJ Suspenders suspenders | Dandy In The Bronx shirt | Koio sneakers | Ties.com no show socks
A turtleneck under a shirt also removes the need for a tie. You are now on a whole different plane of fancy with this. A thin turtleneck might be best for you, but for these looks I’m using a Merino wool knit. Try out and see what level of thickness works best for you.
PRO TIP: Think about where you’ll be rocking this look. Hot office? Warm theater? If you tend to sweat a lot or get hot really easily, maybe try lighter fabrics or perhaps this look might not work ( or be safe!) for you.
Thanks for reading, y’all stay dandy. 😎 Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram !
Not many men will dare to wear turtlenecks but those who do, get our approval instantly. A polished look and sophisticated yet casual vibe is what turtlenecks give out.
This style can be worn very simply albeit the otherwise complicated perception it carries. This fall, turtlenecks are definitely the most versatile garment we have seen on and off the runway and they are sure to keep you snug as a bug during those wintry times. We tell you how you can carry off this look with panache and elegance.
A Warm Type Of Manly Charm
While some may think that men can’t carry off this all covered look in style, we think turtlenecks totally bring out the manliness in you. A chunky knitted turtleneck simply worn with pants and brogues is a complete look in itself and doesn’t need any more styling. It will keep you warm and make you look elegant in shades of beige, grey or brown. You can even add some color to it by wearing printed knitted turtlenecks if you want to look bright on a sunny day.
Stand Tall And Confident
Wear turtlenecks for the right reasons. It is only a myth that they make you look taller and hide flaws like double chins. In fact, turtlenecks look best on slimmer body types and men who are tall, with high necks. That being said, heavier men are not forbidden to try this look out. You can always opt for wearing one with vertical stripes in thinner materials or simply put on a long coat to maintain the height.
Layer It Up (all the way till the neck)
Winter is all about layering and turtlenecks too, look great when layered with blazers. Long or short, pullover’s on a turtleneck or even a vest look eccentric and cool. You can even team up your subtle colored turtleneck with a bold scarf to quirk up your style. Layering always helps a great deal to pull off a winter look.
Try-On. Don’t Hesitate
It is always good to innovate when it comes to fashion and you should never hesitate to try-on something you think will look good. You may not own a turtleneck today, but if you feel like picking one up just to try it on at a store, go ahead and pull it over. They don’t charge to try, so what’s the harm? You may just end up loving the style and second opinions from uninhibited fashionable friends always help!
Your winter wardrobe is definitely incomplete without a turtleneck to warm you up in style.