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What’s the Best Black Turtleneck?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist

That “perfect” black turtleneck looks different for everyone. If you’re a traditionalist, perhaps you worship at the altar of You’ve Got Mail’s (knife-wielding) Kathleen Kelly and the turtleneck that seemed glued to her body, or maybe you prefer Halston’s signature all-black uniform. If you’re a nonconformist, Quinn from Daria’s cropped beatnik cosplay or Shiv Roy’s backless number may be more your style. To help you narrow down the many options out there, we put together a panel of opinionated turtleneck obsessives — including stylists, brand founders, jewelry designers, boutique owners, and even several Strategist staffers — and asked them about their favorites, from fitted and ribbed classics to more slouchy and oversize options. In the list that follows, there’s a fair chance you’ll find a new favorite of your own. (And just in case you’re looking to stock up on turtlenecks in general, we’ve noted which recommendations are also available in colors besides black.)

Best overall turtleneck

From $15

When we polled our panel, this was the single most mentioned turtleneck. Many of the women we spoke to had the same opinion as former Strategist writer Chloe Anello, who calls the Tissue the “only black turtleneck worth buying.” Anello adds that she has “cheated on it before,” but hasn’t found one that comes close to topping its impeccable lightness and layerability.

Another fan of the beloved J.Crew style is Dominique Porter, founder of sleepwear line the Glad Hours, who has been wearing the turtleneck since she was a teen. “I had uniforms in school, and we were allowed to layer turtlenecks underneath our uniform, so it was just the turtleneck that everyone had,” Porter says. “Old habits die hard.” Imane Fiocchi, owner of Neon Lace Company, currently has around 20 turtlenecks in her closet and has been buying this one in bulk for years. She likes that the tissue-thin turtleneck is just ever so slightly sheer.

The founder of the Brooklyn-based jewelry studio Catbird, Rony Vardi, hates layering — “It makes me feel like a squished sausage” — but says this turtleneck is the only exception to that rule. It fits just like a T-shirt — she even wears it underneath past-their-prime vintage tees or under a sweater while skiing. “It’s cotton, which works well when you’re going from the cold outdoors to the overheated indoors,” she says. It comes in 18 other colors — the third most of any of the turtlenecks on our list — including citrine and warm sepia.

From $15 at J.Crew
with code: FRIDAY

Best fitted turtleneck

“I have words,” is how illustrator Alexandra Citrin-Safadi started our correspondence about this turtleneck, boasting that she owns four of them. It’s “the black turtleneck you’ll want (demand!) to be buried in,” she says. Citrin-Safadi prefers her turtlenecks to feel thick rather than tissue-thin: “Picture the kind of turtleneck that toddlers hate being stuffed into.” Kotn’s Fitted Turtleneck is “thick and soft without feeling dowdy” with a neck that doesn’t “wilt,” as she describes it. And on her five-foot-four frame, the turtleneck isn’t “cropped per se, but it does happen to hit at the perfect spot.” The turtleneck stands up so well against “a whole winter’s worth of washing” that she just keeps adding more to her collection. It has even replaced her former favorite (the Everlane Micro Rib, below). She adds, “Physically, it feels like a hug. Mentally, it feels like I have my shit together.” You can also choose from seven other colors, including ochre and dijon.

Best (less expensive) fitted turtleneck

This turtleneck is also illustrator-approved. When longtime Strategist contributor Joana Avillez went on the hunt for her next turtleneck by crowdsourcing recommendations from friends and Facebook acquaintances, she heard raves about this Lands’ End one. (It’s since been renamed from the Layering Turtleneck to the “Lightweight Fitted Long Sleeve” as seen, above.) The “cotton, rayon, and spandex soufflé,” as Avillez describes it, hits the sweet spot between tight and not too tight and not being “so thin that you feel like a walking X-ray.” One of the friends who turned her onto the top even compared it to the “critical cinematic turtleneck” worn by Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park for its super-high collar. It checks off everything Avillez was looking for — simple, soft, cheap, and not itchy (“a nonnegotiable quality that if disrespected will strangle you”). She adds: “It’s a staple element that withdraws into the background, like a darkened museum vitrine casting light on just your face.” Beyond black, this turtleneck comes in 23 other colors and patterns like paisley and plaid.

Best (splurgeworthy) fitted turtleneck

Stylist Erica Ball’s turtleneck philosophy is simple: It should feel like your favorite T-shirt, but warmer. Luxury label Vince makes her turtleneck of choice — which Ball says is so high quality she hasn’t had to replace it in the three years since she first purchased it. This turtleneck is made completely from fine Pima cotton, which contributes to its featherweight feel (but don’t worry, it’s not see-through — Ball promises). “I love that it’s fitted but not tight in any way,” she adds. As for other shades, this turtleneck is available in optic white as well.

Best stretchy turtleneck

“Soft, sensuous, stretchy” is how Lucy Weisner, co-founder of avant-garde shop Café Forgot, describes this turtleneck. It has exposed seams all along the arms, cuffs, hem, and torso. The seams on the torso even create a trompe l’oeil of an hourglass. It’s made mostly from cotton but also with some elastane, and that stretch makes it more comfortable, Weisner points out. She turns to Baserange for her basics and says the brand’s pieces are generally long-lasting. The turtleneck comes in off-white, too.

Best ribbed turtlenecks

Four of our panelists alerted us to this turtleneck. It has barely-there ribbing that makes it subtler than other traditional turtlenecks. Strategist kitchen-and-dining writer Emma Wartzman describes the fit as “tight enough that it doesn’t bunch up underneath things — it really hugs your skin — but not, like, Uniqlo Heattech-tight.” Style coach Kim Hancher echoes that description, saying, “It’s so soft that it feels like a second skin.” And most importantly, she notes, the neck actually stays up throughout the day. “​​I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I buy one of those Everlane turtlenecks each season, just because I know I’ll get so much use out of them,” says Gabrielle Arruda, a fashion designer who also runs her own namesake style blog. And Suann Song, founder of paper-product company Appointed, told us she bought it on a whim and now it’s a basic she relies on. The turtleneck comes in 11 shades other than black, including tapenade and tumeric.

Two stylish women mentioned Uniqlo’s extra-fine merino turtlenecks. Leigh Plessner, creative director at Catbird, likes to wear her turtlenecks under antique slip dresses and nightgowns, so they have to be smoothing and stay in place. Her recommendation does just that. The sleeves are the right length “to show just a bit of wrist and bracelet,” Plessner tells us. And even through countless wears (“with heavy spritzings of rose water in between”), it has held up. The sweater also comes in four other colors, as well as a version without the ribbing that’s currently sold out — but which Christiana Greene, owner and curator of Bum-Cake Vintage, actually prefers. It has been her tried-and-true for the past three winters.

Best turtleneck for layering

Cos — think of the brand as H&M’s more contemporary cousin — makes stylist Grace Thomas’s favorite basics. This top is a more recent addition to her closet. “It’s slinky and tight in all the right places,” she says. That combination hasn’t been easy to find. Thomas has gone through a number of turtlenecks, none of which have the just-right slim-fit this version features. The top, she says, is also a perfect layering piece, made from a lighter merino wool. (It’s also runway-ready, as it made an appearance in Cos’s recent fall 2022 show.)

Best tuckable turtleneck

Along with Everlane’s Micro-Rib, featured above, stylist Ansley Morgan considers Tradlands’s Monty another favorite in her collection of turtlenecks. “If you want a turtleneck that isn’t tissue thin, but not too thick, this is the one for you,” she says. It’s also designed to be tucked in, with a box-shaped silhouette and hem that is cropped at the hip. At just under $100, Morgan says it’s a little more expensive than what she would usually spend on an essential, but she praises the brand’s sustainability efforts — including a focus on slow fashion — and size inclusivity, as this piece is available up to a size 4X. Along with black, the turtleneck comes in six other colors including storm and golden.

Best fleece turtleneck

Even though J.Crew won the title of best overall turtleneck, we heard about Uniqlo Heattech a lot — many of the women we talked to own some form of it. Michaela Rechtschaffner, the owner of, and one-woman knitter behind, Pearle Knits, counts one (now sold out) Heattech turtleneck tee as her ol’ faithful. Sade Mims, head designer of luxury-accessory line EDAS, is another member of the Heattech club, styling her turtlenecks much like the singer with whom she shares her first name — with gold hoop earrings and a glossed lip. And Jennifer Behr, founder of her eponymous luxury-headband-and-jewelry label, goes for glamour with her Heattech, pairing it with dramatic fringed crystal earrings.

But much of the Heattech we heard about was some variation of the (now-out-of-stock) T-shirt turtleneck mentioned by Rechtschaffner, Mims, and Behr. This fleece Heattech stood out for its practicality — it’s the perfect winter-wardrobe piece (that’s not stuffy, either). Porter bought this turtleneck for a ski trip, not thinking that “it would become something beyond a utilitarian thing.” But it turned into a staple. Especially as it’s easily worn on its own or layered, she explains. “It’s really soft without the obvious texture and weight of fleece,” Porter says, adding that there’s a cotton lining on the other side of the fleece that helps prevent overheating (even though it’s just warm enough to begin with). Writer and digital creator Carrie Carrollo belonged to the turtlenecks-are-uncool camp as a child but has since come around. “The Heattech turtlenecks are the gold standard for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a style I like more,” she says. It comes in seven other shades, including burgundy and a more mustardy hue.

[Editor’s note: The Heattech fleece turtleneck is almost sold out, but you can sign up to receive a notification when your size is back in stock.]

Best turtleneck–slash–mock neck

Technically a turtleneck, this T-shirt is spiritually more of a mock neck. Emily Li Mandri, the founder of accessory company MLE, feels that since she’s just five-feet-two, turtlenecks tend to completely hide her neck. So she prefers mock necks — and turtlenecks that fold down enough to create a mock-mock neck. This one belongs to the latter category. As an upstate resident, she needs her turtlenecks to weather the cold, harsh winters. And Uniqlo’s is “literally magic” when it comes to locking in heat. It’s “extremely toasty, considering how thin (not in a see-through way) the material is,” Li Mandri says. Tamara Mayne, founder of Brooklyn Candle Studio, likes to keep her closet edited but owns three of these. (She was surprised at how well they went with her other clothes.) The turtleneck also comes in two other colors.

[Editor’s note: This turtleneck is almost sold out, but you can sign up to receive a notification when your size is back in stock.]

Best (affordable) cashmere turtleneck

Like some of the other turtleneck obsessives we talked to, whenever Sabine Le Guyader, co-founder of Lady Grey Jewelry, can’t find anything to wear, she turns to her husband’s side of the closet. She recently bought this turtleneck for him, but it’s in her rotation as well — even if it’s a size larger than her usual. The super-soft cashmere has the right weight — neither too thick nor too thin — and manages to keep her warm without overheating. Le Guyader adds that the turtleneck is long enough that she can wear it as a minidress or with bike shorts peeking out the bottom. It currently comes in a color called smoke and taupe, too. If you need another reason to try out Naadam’s cashmere, Torie Tilley, founder of jewelry brand Common Era, also stole hers from her husband. She’s anti-wool, hating how the fabric feels on her chin.

Best (splurgeworthy) cashmere turtleneck

Porter firmly believes that everyone should have a black cashmere turtleneck in their closet. “It’s obviously just a more luxurious feel and more of a splurge, but if you want to up the ante, it’s definitely the way to go.” For a truly classic take, Porter points to this cashmere sweater from Brooks Brothers. “A cashmere turtleneck definitely makes me feel like I’m in a Nancy Meyers film in the best way,” Porter says. “Who doesn’t want to feel like Diane Keaton?” You can also find it in five other colors, including camel, ivory, and green.

Best alpaca turtleneck

Christina Viviani, founder and creative director of luxury lingerie label the Great Eros, is staunch in her turtleneck theory. “I’m attracted to either end of the pendulum and nothing in between. A fitted mock neck, preferably sheer or of a lightweight knit, or a tall, slouchy turtleneck with an oversize fit using a chunky yarn.” This sweater, which she has permanently borrowed from her husband, falls into the latter category. She likes what she describes as “the attitude of menswear on a woman.” The boxy fit creates a “great profile” and a neck that “slouches in the perfect way,” as “you can leave it up without having to fold down.” The turtleneck is made completely from warm alpaca fiber from Bolivia. It comes in white, too.

Best (splurgeworthy) oversized turtleneck

Since turtlenecks have so many well-known “associations,” having been popular with everyone from Beat poets to Steve Jobs, brand-strategist-slash-writer Tilly Macalister-Smith feels a little “retro” wearing the classic figure-hugging kind. Instead, she prefers them “generously sized,” with the following features: “reaches past your bum, drop shoulders, and comes up to your nose.” Raey — the in-house label of luxury retailer MatchesFashion — makes “brilliant oversize knits,” according to Macalister-Smith. She finds herself buying from the brand almost every fall, even though she already has a “robust wardrobe” of sweaters. The silhouette of this roll-neck “manages to cover all manner of sins while making you feel quite glamorous,” she adds. You can get it in four other colors, including this festive merlot. (And though the brand’s pieces are pretty pricey, Macalister-Smith also suggests Amsterdam-based label Extreme Cashmere. The No.20 sweater is among her most prized possessions for being “deliciously warm.”)

Best (affordable) turtleneck with cutouts

Almost all of the turtlenecks Sheena Sood, founder of clothing brand abacaxi, owns are in bright colors, in patterns, or tie-dyed. (The only black one she has from her label features a faded kaleidoscopic print on the left side.) But one of the black turtlenecks on her wish list is actually this Norma Kamali bodysuit with diamond-shaped cutouts all along the arms and on the sides.

Best (splurgeworthy) turtleneck with cutouts

Turtlenecks have a reserved reputation. A hint of skin is unexpected and fun. “I always like to find a way to make a turtleneck look sexy,” says Kylie Nakao, founder and owner of jewelry brand Tarin Thomas. She looks for extras to make one feel less serious, like sequins or feathers. “The collarbone cutouts on this turtleneck give you just that,” Nakao says. She usually doesn’t go for mock necks, but the cutouts make for a cleaner neckline that looks better than it probably would as a traditional turtleneck. The shoulder-baring turtleneck features ribbing throughout for a figure-hugging fit. Nakao jokes about wearing it near a fire with a hot date and a dirty martini.

Best sheer turtleneck

If showing just some skin isn’t enough, a completely sheer turtleneck might be more your speed. Co-founder of Lady Grey Jewelry Jill Martinelli’s inner goth can’t resist the pull of sheer mesh, which “adds a little edge to any outfit,” especially summery micro-floral slip dresses that you want to transition into the winter. She recommends two from brands that are both known for their undergarments: a (currently sold-out) bodysuit from Hanky Panky and this top from Commando. Both are tight on the body but still soft and stretchy, she says. “These definitely aren’t for the faint of heart, but they can be styled in so many ways to make them more practical,” Martinelli explains. “The key to wearing them is only showing bits and parts of them. I always like to contrast their overt sexiness with textures, colors, or prints that soften their bite.” And she mentions that they look just as amazing underneath a full suit or a cashmere sweater or with a pair of basketball shorts and track pants, for those who are more daring.

Best short-sleeved turtleneck

You know how with some long-sleeved T-shirts, you have to keep pulling and tugging the arms for those have-to-roll-up-my-sleeves moments? Not with this turtleneck. Sarah Palatnik, founder of Cute Fruit Undies (and who also works as a garment production manager for several brands, including Los Angeles Apparel), highly recommends it. The unusual elbow-length sleeves (tradition has it that turtlenecks are long-sleeved) always earn Palatnik compliments. But beyond the sleeves, it’s her favorite turtleneck for being perfectly stretchy — made from a viscose-and-elastane mix, it has held up well even after more than two and a half years. The shirt also comes in four other colors including Anthracite Chine and Ombra.

Best turtleneck bodysuit

Wolford, producer of widely beloved luxury tights, also offers a bodysuit that makes Fiocchi “feel like a boss” when she wears it. She turns to the Colorado whenever she wants a more elevated, well-defined silhouette. The stretchy bodysuit is like a second skin, she says, adding that “because this turtleneck is fitted, seamless, and opaque, I think it makes a great base layer.” It’s true to size but definitely long-torsoed, Fiocchi tells us. Since it’s a thong, there’s no need to worry about any visible panty lines, either. Nakeo prefers the brand’s Orlando bodysuit, which has a higher hem in the front and looks more like a string bikini in the back. But the Colorado comes in more colors — 22 total, including brandied apricot and java.

Best (less expensive) turtleneck bodysuit

Martinelli has had a rather contentious relationship with turtlenecks. Try as she might, most feel overwhelming and claustrophobic on her five-foot-three frame. Her solution is to find shorter, fitted turtlenecks or to go for a mock neck. This Capezio leotard doesn’t cover the neck completely, stopping in the middle. An impulsive late-night purchase, the leotard has become a supportive player in her closet as an almost “full-upper-body Spanx.” And she can even skip wearing a bra since it’s wetsuitlike — there’s “a little slip to it, which makes it an incredible layering piece because it doesn’t rub or catch with other fabrics or look bulky — everything just glides over it,” she says. It’s easy to dress up, as Martinelli will wear it with vintage Levi’s and secondhand Yves Saint Laurent marabou-and-satin mules. You can get it in white, maroon, navy, and sky blue. (And for “something that says ’70s art teacher in the best way” — in the words of Clare V. founder Clare Vivier — try Skims’s just-as-affordable bodysuit, which is designed to be supportive, stretchy, and smoothing.)

Best funnelneck

We couldn’t forget about funnel-neck fanatics. This pullover was one of the few real-world purchases Morgan Solomon, founder of jewelry label AGMES, made during the peak of the pandemic. Solomon says the neck is the right height to be both warm and not restrictive, which is especially important for her, as she likes to walk from her place in Tribeca to the office and doesn’t like feeling suffocated on the way. “It’s equally cozy at home to lounge in and respectable for when I have meetings,” Solomon says. We’re cheating here just a bit, since Solomon owns it in cream and wears it with ivory jeans for a fully neutral look, but the pullover does, of course, come in black (along with navy, platinum, and a shade called lily stone that resembles lilac).

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What’s the Best Black Turtleneck?