A turtleneck (or “polo neck” as I a grew up calling them) is a very high neckline that covers most of the neck. Turtlenecks are generally close-fitting, but can also fit further away from the neck providing a roomier fit. You’ll find turtlenecks on knitwear, tops and dresses. 

Working with clients with varying body types, I’ve found that their reactions to turtlenecks are mixed. Some enjoy wearing turtlenecks more than any other neckline. Some will only wear one as a layering piece or as a necessity for cozy warmth. Others won’t wear turtlenecks at all. 

These mixed reactions make sense when we examine the pros and cons of turtleneck proportions. Whether you like wearing a turtleneck can depend on your body type, style persona, the climate where you live, and whether you run hot or cold. 

Pros of Turtlenecks

  • Keeps you toasty warm
  • Provides a sleek and streamlined effect when worn in a form fitting thin gauge knit 
  • A classic silhouette with high longevity
  • Shortens the length of the neck 
  • Visually increases the size of the bust
  • A great layering piece 

Cons of Turtlenecks

  • Causes overheating if you run warm or live in mild weather year round
  • Makes you feel claustrophobic with no room to breathe
  • Shortens the length of the neck
  • Visually increases the size of the bust
  • Looks overly classic, sporty, strict or masculine 

Turtlenecks are my favourite neckline because of the pros listed above. I run cold, which makes the coverage of a turtleneck ideal. I like the way a turtleneck shortens my long neck (which looks even longer because of my super short hair and narrow shoulder line) by providing ample structure. Lastly, in a sleek fine gauge knit, the simplicity of the masculine silhouette appeals to my minimal and modern classic style persona. Basic form fitting turtlenecks are a wardrobe essential for my style

The cons above generally resonate with my clients who don’t like turtlenecks. They feel that turtlenecks strangle their bodies. They run too warm to wear turtlenecks. The style further shortens their necks, or draws too much attention to their bust line, thereby making the girls look larger. 

I do also have clients with shorter necks and larger bust lines who enjoy wearing turtlenecks. By visually elongating the turtleneck with scarves, pendants and unbuttoned blazers, or wearing a turtleneck collar that stands further away from the neck, they look and feel fab.

And then I have small busted clients with long necks who loathe wearing turtlenecks because the style is unfeminine and not at all alluring and flirty. 

Such a mixed bag of feelings about the turtleneck! What is most interesting is that the things that I find appealing about a turtleneck are precisely the things that turn others away from the style. Give me a form fitting black turtleneck and I feel at my most alluring. 

What’s your take on turtleneck style? Do you wear this high neckline? Do you agree with the pros and cons listed here?

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