The Turtleneck, Shortcut to Enduring Style

WSJ Prima Darling

The turtleneck sweater, also known as the polo or roll neck, is one of the greatest sartorial inventions of all time. I would argue that anyone, man or women, young or old looks great in a turtleneck. The turtleneck is timeless and modern at once. Wear it alone for a strong minimalist feeling or pile on multiple necklaces or a single statement necklace for impact. The turtleneck works perfectly under any jacket or coat style and is compatible with all collars. It’s refined, casual and comfy and it’s here to stay.

Ali MacGraw turtlenecks prima darling
Top Photo WSJ, above Ali MacGraw, it doesn’t get chicer or more timeless than this.
Jane Fonda Prima Darling
Like Ali, Jane Fonda rocking that ivory cashmere poorboy rib turtleneck.

Now that it’s fall and slowly but surely the weather is cooling down, I suggest you assess your own turtleneck situation. A fine gauge black turtleneck is an essential; I also recommend a heavier weight black turtle. Next consider colors. What colors are you leaning towards this season? Red, as previously posted, is big this fall. Do you have a rich red cashmere sweater? Let’s consider bottoms now. Do you have either a complimentary or matching turtle for the bottoms you have in heavy rotation. Why not incorporate the monochromatic dressing trend of the season and find a turtle to match the pant?

A fine gauge form fitting turtleneck tucked into a skirt is a good look.
Pile the necklaces on over a skinny black turtle, as Marisa Berenson did at the Dior show. Love the beret and glasses with it, simple yet so effective.

Next up fit. Here again the turtleneck is completely accommodating. Whatever your personal preference is you can find the right turtle. A poor-boy rib, which is a narrow very elastic rib, will be close to the body. A fine gauge with a small fit will also be form fitting. Both look great tucked into a skirt or easy pant. If an easier fit is desired, look for something with a rib trim at the bottom that creates a blouson effect.

Lauren Bacall Turtlenecks Prima Darling
A looser cropped body with a rib trim at the bottom to pull it in looks great with a high waisted pant, as on Lauren Bacall.
Caroline Murphy Turtleneck Prima Darling
Or go for a fully relaxed look with an easy fitting longer cashmere turtleneck and generous trouser.
Faye Dunaway
Speaking of camel and white, I’ve always loved this turtleneck and white jeans look on Faye Dunaway in the Thomas Crowne Affair, which reminds me a camel turtle is essential as well.

Material is important. I prefer cashmere; it feels great on and will not irritate your neck. This is a complaint I often hear as a designer, my answer is you haven’t lived until you fully appreciate the comfort and security of a cashmere turtleneck. I also hear they’re too hot; to which I would answer open a window. The turtleneck is such an important styling tool you simply must overcome any preconceived notions you may have and get on board. Here, my suggestions to get you started; with some hunting you should be able to find your perfect turtlenecks. One last point, with turtlenecks and cashmere in general, you get what you pay for. A beautifully made Italian or Scottish cashmere sweater will continue to look good for many years to come.

Everlane Prima Darling
Everlane, a direct to consumer site that believes in pricing transparency, offers quality at a great price.
Uniqlo Prima Darling
The  Japanese brand Uniqlo, stocks a myriad of colors in all the classic sweater shapes at great prices. Go to the store if you can and try on the men’s sweaters, you may prefer the fit.
Courreges Prima Darling
A form fitting, true white turtle is a handy layering piece to have, this one from Courreges
Pringle Prima Darling
A good choice for the essential black Turtle from Pringle
Brooks Brothers, Prima Darling
Brooks Brothers offers this in a wide selection of colors and they use Cariaggi Cashmere, a high quality Italian cashmere many designers use.