The two main complaints against turtlenecks are that they are shapeless and that they visually shorten the neck. These obstacles are easily overcome through garment choice and styling.
Two Types of Turtlenecks
Like any knit top, choose your turtleneck carefully. There are two types of turtleneck garments: those meant to be worn as an outer layer and those meant to be layered underneath.
Outer layer: Usually a thick, substantial knit.
Look for a garment with interesting detailing. The sweater on the left has slighty puffed sleeves and a subltle empire waist. The mini poncho on the right is embellished with decorative cables.
Avoid loose, shapeless, and/or plain knit pieces.
Generally, the chunkier the turtleneck, the slimmer the bottom half of your outfit should be. If you’re concerned about bulk on the upper half, choose a finer-gauge and fitted knit.
Under layer: Light, jersey knits meant to be worn under something else.
This is the garment that is vilified on What Not To Wear. Styled and layered correctly, though, it can add interest and warmth to an outfit.
Under a dress:
Under something sheer:
Under something sleeveless:
Treat the jersey turtleneck like long underwear. It shouldn’t be worn on its own. Use the outer piece to create structure.
Lengthen the Neck
Granted, I have a long neck, but even I use a few tricks to elongate my neck when wearing a turtleneck:
Add a pendant necklace (or two):
Draw the eye down with a scarf:
Layer it under a v-neckline:
Pull your hair up:
Use the turtleneck to its full advantage: as a canvas for spectacular jewelry. The expanse of fabric is a perfect showcase for dramatic earrings, a sparkly brooch, or a statement necklace.
Stay warm and stylish this winter!