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How To Make the Turtleneck Sweater the Star of Your Winter Wardrobe

How To Make the Turtleneck Sweater the Star of Your Winter Wardrobe

For the uninitiated, a turtleneck might seem to be one of those sweater options that either feels too stuffy, too formal, or too eccentric. Those who think that are wrong. For the colder weather months, a turtleneck might possibly be the best option in menswear as a versatile wardrobe staple that easily transitions from the most formal evenings to the most casual weekends alike.

By their very design, a turtleneck is unlike any other type of sweater. I’m not talking quarter-zips or mock-necks here, I’m talking about the full-on, up-to-your-chin and rolled-back-down-again turtlenecks.

The beauty of a turtleneck is that it looks good on nearly all body types. Because of the excess fabric at the neck, it counterbalances any extra weight one holds at the center of their body while also creating a triangle shape from the shoulders to the waist. When considering what kind of turtleneck to buy, avoid any with a fitted bottom hem on the turtleneck’s waist, as that will create an unnecessary bit of weight to any body frame. Finally, larger guys might want to avoid less forgiving fabrics, such as jersey or cotton, as they tend to cling to a body’s form more than a loose fabric like cashmere or wool.

The Long Appeal of Turtlenecks

Long before Steve Jobs made his black turtleneck popular in the tech world, the sweater style has been worn and worn again dating back at least 500 years. Back in medieval Europe, knights donned thick turtlenecks not for fashion’s sake, but for practicality, finding both protection and warmth in its high collar.

Fast forward to the mid-20th century, and the turtleneck underwent a rebellious transformation, becoming a counterculture signifier. It wasn’t merely a garment, it was a statement worn proudly by artists and beatniks who challenged societal norms.

From the swinging ’60s and well into the ’70s, the turtleneck transitioned from a symbol of defiance to a mainstream fashion icon. Audrey Hepburn wore it with grace, and tech nerds turned to Jobs for his minimalist uniform that he wore for nearly 30 years, showing the versatility of the garment in boardrooms and in elegant European cafes alike.

Today, the turtleneck remains a popular choice with everyone from superstar athletes like Nikola Jokić to stars like Drake and Nick Jonas. Its distinctive silhouette has become a staple across menswear for being so easy to style and fit for nearly any occasion.

Styling Your Turtleneck


For a casual and relaxed style, pair your turtleneck with well-fitted jeans, creating an effortlessly cool and laid-back look. Rolling up the sleeves adds a touch of nonchalance. Another option is to wear your turtleneck with a stylish bomber jacket or blazer, offering an extra layer of warmth and a great retro silhouette. I often opt for an oversized turtleneck in cashmere or wool to be able to roll up the sleeves with a pair of cords for a ‘90s-style look on the weekends.

Semi-Formal/Business Casual

Transitioning into semi-formal territory, tuck your turtleneck into a pair of well-fitted tailored trousers and add a sleek leather belt. Topping it off with a tailored blazer creates a polished look that’s great for holiday parties. Alternatively, consider layering a slim-fit turtleneck under a well-structured cardigan or pullover for a smart and sophisticated look, great for meeting the partner’s parents. For everyday wear, pairing your turtleneck with some chinos and a pair of loafers is the perfect balance of comfort and refinement.


Have an invite for a formal party and want to stay comfortably throughout the night? Stick with a turtleneck. Try pairing a finely-knit turtleneck with a well-tailored suit. Opt for neutral tones or stay within the same color palette to make for a no-fuss outfit you can wear again and again. For an added layer of cool, pair your suit and turtleneck combo with a nice trench coat for an air of elegance to your overall look.

The Best Men’s Turtleneck Sweaters

Quince Cashmere Turtleneck

Quince Cashmere Turtleneck

It’s hard to find quality cashmere for less than $100, and yet here Quince is, doing just that. The beauty of cashmere isn’t just its softness, but its resistance to retaining odor, making it a great option to wear again and again in the colder months when fireplaces and crowded parties are the norm.

Buy Now $79.90

Abercrombie & Fitch Merino Wool-Blend Turtleneck Tee

Abercrombie & Fitch Merino Wool-Blend Turtleneck Tee

Breathable, slimming, and easy to style. What more could you ask for in a sweater? Abercrombie has continued to put out some great products this year and its basic staples always land well. This super soft merino-blend option is the perfect balance of comfort and sophistication, allowing you to layer under your best blazer or chill on the couch all weekend, pairing the sweater with some sweats.

Buy Now $70

Octobre Editions Vincent Sweater

Octobre Editions Vincent Sweater

For a chunkier, cozier fit, French brand Octobre Editions has a great, affordable option. Their Vincent Sweater has a bit of a fisherman flair while still being put together enough to be paired with some chinos and a nice loafer for happy hour.

Buy Now $170
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