Turtlenecks are seeing a resurgence as one of this Fall’s must-have wardrobe items. What was once a standard nondescript sweater for fall/winter has now become a full-on industry-wide trend. Celine and Jil Sander are the two fashion houses that initiated the revival. As modern and minimalist brands they heavily influenced the this season’s interpretation of the turtleneck. 

History

Turtlenecks were first spotted in fashion history back in the 1860s. English polo players pioneered this style of sweater which was known back then as the ‘polo neck.’ From the 1920s onward, those who are perceived to be against the grain, those who are unconventional, have adopted the turtleneck. From feminists to beatniks, artists, and philosophers, the turtleneck became an iconic fashion item that expresses rebellion from the norm. It’s no wonder why one of the most visionary creative of our time adopted the black turtleneck as his own personal uniform. Who am I talking about? None other than Steve Jobs, of course. Other than Steve Jobs, the turtleneck enjoyed an iconic fashion moment when Audrey Hepburn donned it in true gamine style in the movie Funny Face.

fashion-archives-turtleneck
Source

Turtlenecks have been around for years and have been consistently worn by the masses as part of a casual wardrobe. Though they have fell out of favor for a while being associated with 80s and 90s fashion, turtlenecks are now back with a vengeance and are chicer than ever.

When and Where to Wear

The great thing about turtlenecks is that they are a wear any time, any where item – it just depends on what you wear it with, and how you style it. Turtlenecks of the 80s and 90s were of a more casual style in loose silhouettes and oversized funnel necks. The turtlenecks of the Audrey Hepburn era, it’s sleeker and more sophisticated. These two depictions of how turtlenecks can be worn is a testament to the fact that this piece can be worn for day or evening, for formal or informal occasions, and for work or play. Take a look at the first set of two images below; both ladies are clad in black turtlenecks with one outfit being for evening formal and the other daytime casual. To make the black turtleneck formal, it’s paired with a lace pencil skirt. On the other hand, when paired with jeans it instantly becomes easygoing casual. In the second set you can see how the bulk and fitting of the turtle necks make a world of difference to the formality of the total outfit. Close fitting, fine gauge, close set necks will always trump loose, textured styles in the formality stakes.

What you wear Turtlenecks with

Turtleneck bulk
Source: Top Row: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3. Bottom Row: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

Work Days

When cool weather prevails, a turtleneck is a great work wear wardrobe staple. Striped or neutral, the turtleneck can work wonders in elevating your existing office closet basics like trousers, blazers, and solid colored pumps. You can even try monochromatic work ensembles with your turtleneck for extra chic points. Opt for fitted styles since that tends to look more dressy than large, oversized silhouettes. If your turtleneck has a little slouch in it, pair with a sleek pencil skirt and sleek pumps to keep it office appropriate. Also keep the neckline in mind when selecting your turtleneck, avoid oversized necklines as well.

Work Turtlenecks
Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

Formal Events

Your trusty turtleneck can save you from having to freeze in a cocktail dress and comes in handy to make an even summery dresses transition into fall. It also adds a downtown vibe to your glitzy evening pieces. Take a look at how Zendaya styled her grey turtleneck to perfection for a red carpet event; you can learn a thing or two from her styling prowess.

Formal events Turtlenecks
Source: Image 1Image 2Image 3

Casual Days

Turtlenecks are a marked upgrade from a slouchy sweater, hoodie or long-sleeved tee. Elevate your casual and everyday uniform during the fall/winter season by swapping out those wardrobe staples with a modern and fitted turtleneck. A fitted and smooth turtleneck will add some more polish to your daily looks, and give it a bit of panache.

Casual Turtlenecks
Source: Image 1Image 2Image 3

To recap, here are a few styling reminders to keep in mind when wearing turtlenecks:

  • Fitted styles and tailored fits tend to be more flattering and appear dressier. Oversized turtleneck sweater styles and loose fit turtlenecks are more casual and can be less flattering due to its tendency to appear shapeless. This same rule applies to the fit of the neckline itself of turtleneck pieces.
  • When choosing the fabric of your turtleneck, remember that chunkier textures like large open weave knits appear more casual while those that have smooth body fitting materials will look more polished and formal.
  • Length, i.e. where the turtleneck ends on your leg, is another factor to consider. If you’re going for an evening formal look, select a turtleneck that ends above your hipline. Anything below the hipline will be seen as casual.

 How to Accessorize

Accessorizing turtlenecks are easy. The high neckline provides the perfect canvas for statement jewelry up top. Think bib necklaces or multiple layered delicate necklaces, or even a shoulder-grazing pair of statement earrings to accessorize your turtleneck with. Steer clear of wearing neck scarves since that will prove to be too much fabric around your neck area. Finish off your look with your necklace or earrings of choice; it’s all up to you.  

Turtleneck accessories
Source: Image 1Image 2Image 3

Modern Turtleneck Styling  

There are so many options on how to style your turtleneck. Allow us to shine the spotlight on 3 modern ways to style your turtleneck. Whether you prefer trendy or classic, these styling ideas can be your source of inspiration and outfit ideas too!  

Slip Dress

Commonly believed to be too racy to wear outside the house, a turtleneck worn under a slip dress is a refreshing way to style this trendy piece. The classic and conservative feel of the turtleneck balances the sexiness of the slip dress. Finish off this ensemble with either sneakers or boots.

Slip dresses and Turtlenecks
Source: Image 1Image 2Image 3

Fur

Fur is a definite must-have for the fall/winter, add a turtleneck into the mix and you’ve hit the sartorial jackpot.

Turtlenecks and Fur
Source: Image 1Image 2Image 3

Overalls/Pinafore Dress

Overalls and pinafore dresses can feel too youthful and it might skew a little bit too summery. When you wear it with a turtleneck, though, it tones down the playfulness of the overalls and pinafore and makes it look more polished and grown up too.

Turtlenecks and Overalls

Source: Image 1, Image 2Image 3

Are you excited with this trend?

Which styling tips you’re eager to try!

Ann2015Blue

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Thank you.
Ann Reinten AICI CIP
Author


8 Comments

  • Sherri Feehery says:

    wow, what a great article and I want to try all the suggestions. I teach a girls sewing club in hopes that the girls will one day learn how to sew their own clothes or to remodel an inappropriate, not modest, piece of clothing. I am so excited about turtlenecks which I already have and of course have not thought to wear them in this manner!

    I envision teaching the girls that they can be modest but elegant in their dress! In other words pulling everyone’s attention to their eyes which are the window of their souls which Audrey Hepburn is noted for saying!

    Thank you for this beautiful article and keep up the beautiful work!

    Sherri Feehery

  • Voh says:

    Ab Fab again!

  • Lee says:

    Love your blog and facebook page – one of the best out there! Regarding turtlenecks – difficult for me. I am plus size with a belly and big boobs and my neck is medium – so it’s difficult to make turtlenecks work for me – unfortunately.

    • pretastyler says:

      Thanks for your kind words Lee, I really appreciate them.
      Sadly turtlenecks are not for everyone BUT you can sort of get away with them if you roll the neck down a little, add a long pendant and or wear with an open vest or jacket.

  • susan klusmann says:

    What if you have a turkey neck?? I am slender, older, adore turtlenecks but will avoid them if I must. I can’t decide if they camouflage or accentuate.

    Also, at what age do you no longer allow the bottom of you underpiece to show under your jacket or sweater? A darling look but age appropriate??

    I so look forward to your posts an have learned so much. Except how to really!!! edit- can’t let go so buy more to make sense of it all- disaster closet strikes!

    Love what you do- so many thanks!
    Susan, Austin Tx.

    • pretastyler says:

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your kind comments on my features – I enjoy writing them for you.
      In regard to your question: as long as you do not have a short or wide neck or double chins, turtlenecks will be fine for you.
      I don’t understand your second question – maybe you can send me a private email with a photo of what you mean – ann@imageinnovators.com
      You really must learn how to edit your wardrobe. I have this feature: https://pretastyler.com/blog/closet-cleansing/ or you could have an image consultant come in and help you with it:http://directory.imageinnovators.com/ The very last thing you should be doing is buying new things to make the things that are not working work.

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