The Timeless Turtleneck

February 13th, 2015

The turtleneck sweater (or “roll neck” for you Brits) is one of the most underrated basics in menswear today. It can be difficult to even find a simple one in a solid color.

Turtleneck-like garments have been worn for hundreds of years, dating at least to the 15th century. From the late 19th century on, they were commonly worn by menial workers, athletes, sailors and naval officers. Historically (and controversially) the turtleneck sweater has also acted as a substitute to the traditional and dominant shirt and tie look. In many ways it was seen the “anti-tie”, a simple and smart form of dress for those who rejected traditional formal wear.

As I was coming through the Style Guide the other day, I realized how often I use a solid colored turtleneck to complete a look. In my opinion, it’s an essential wardrobe item because it can be layered and used in so many ways.

If you’re a little apprehensive about trying one, start with one that is thin, fitted, neutral in color, and inexpensive like this one in navy blue.

Here are some ideas on layering it in with your F/W essentials.

1. With Denim Jacket & Topcoat



2. With Patterned Shirt & Camel



3. With Chunky Outer-Cardigan



4. With Tailored Suit & Overcoat



5. With Trim Cardigan & Topcoat



5. With Oxford Shirt & Flannel Suit



6. With Blazer & Jeans



7. With Bomber and Flannel Trousers



Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


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  • Syke

    Personally, I prefer the turtlenecks WITHOUT a button up shirt on top of them. With a button up shirt, it looks A LOT like the kind of dicky turtleneck that Howard Wolowitz wears on The Big Bang Theory. Very funny, but NOT COOL.

  • Yikes

    We can see not-so-little Dan in 2 and 3!

  • Eric

    Oh my, those looks (in my opinion, of course…different strokes and what not) with a turtleneck under a button up are unspeakably awful!

    • AFH

      I like the flannel suit look, but the window pane one not so much. It’s definitely a very ‘classic’ look which won’t be within everybody’s aesthetic range.

  • TO

    Layered one yesterday for the -30C weather in Toronto. Definitely recommend the ones I got at Muji- a blended material at the neck to prevent ‘scratchiness’ and an otherwise pure wool, trim fit, comes in several solid colors for about $30CDN each. Good looks here.

  • Tom

    #6 is badass! #gameover

  • Miguel

    I think with a blazer and jeans is my favorite look.

  • tommyjohn_45

    Arguably my least favorite article of men’s clothing… Even as a toddler, I’d snap on my mom if she tried to put one on me.

  • LouCaves

    I have on one today under argyle cardigan with wool pants. It was, oh, about -2 Fahrenheit this morning in Chicago.

    It is hard to find a nice solid colored one – finally found a cotton one at Sears and a wool one at Brooks Brothers.

    All the looks are nice.

    Thanks, AOS

  • Sentences of Style

    How to pull off a Turtleneck (edited).

    Grab from bottom. Pull over head.

    • AFH


    • Alex Crawford

      Nailed it.

  • AFH

    The key thing to remember when pulling off a turtleneck is to remove your spectacles. #boomboom

  • James Wong

    Looks three and four are amazing.

    Btw I’m from.England and I’ve never even heard of a “roll neck”, only a turtleneck.

  • Rob

    Every look is on point, Dan…It was also a pleasant trip down Memory Lane. Cheers.