compulsive shopping

I Can’t Stop Buying Turtlenecks

Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros.

In 2017, I wrote for the Strategist that what I look forward to most about fall is neither changing foliage, decreased humidity, Halloween, discounted drugstore candy, or going apple picking upstate. It isn’t even decorative gourds. When fall comes around, I most look forward to one thing: wearing a turtleneck every day.

Two years later, my turtleneck wardrobe has only grown, and my compulsive habit of buying them shows no signs of stopping. From the moment the temperature drops below 60 degrees to the day it rises above 60 again, my neck stays safely ensconced in a turtleneck. To my mind, a turtleneck epitomizes a perfect union between utility and style. It can convey bookish charm, as when worn by shopkeeper Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) in You’ve Got Mail. It can suggest cool severity, as on Liv Ullmann in Persona. It can express sporty preppiness, as on Renata Adler, whose turtleneck-under-oxford look is as iconic as her long braid. And all the while, it keeps your neck warm. If there’s such a thing as a “face-framing” haircut, I’d say a turtleneck is a face-framing shirt. It’s like a pedestal for your face. Any turtleneck collection should be broken into three categories: staying-in turtlenecks, leaving-the-house turtlenecks, and going-out turtlenecks. Below are my latest favorites.

Staying-in turtlenecks

Staying-in turtlenecks are the white T-shirt of these tops — simplicity is the point. I buy them in neutral colors and layer them under crewneck sweaters (and under turtleneck sweaters, for that matter).

It’s the classic! And it seems to sell out every year, so stock up on your favorite colors early, then pick up some of the leftover colors when they’re marked down at the end of the season.

Another classic, with some brighter colors available.

I bought a navy micro-stripe turtleneck like this at J.Crew years ago, and it’s still surprisingly one of the items I reach for most in fall and winter. It can be read in a lot of ways: ’70s retro, slightly kooky art teacher, New England preppy, French casual. And when layered under a sweater, it looks a little less staid than a solid might.

This would be useful if you find yourself making that apple-picking pilgrimage to Dutchess County on a particularly chilly day. I’ve always thought the beige has a slight Eckhaus Latta look to it, too.

This is another basic option that would be ideal for layering under sweaters, and thanks to the “air” weight, it won’t make you overheated when your radiator kicks on.

Leaving-the-house turtlenecks

A cozy staying-in turtleneck gives you an excuse to putter around the house, but if you must venture outside, a leaving-the-house turtleneck is ideal. While a solid Uniqlo turt can absolutely be worn anywhere, these are a bit more substantial and interesting as stand-alone tops.

If you’ve seen Something’s Gotta Give, you know the iconic power of beige and ivory turtlenecks like the ones Diane Keaton wears on the beach in all temperatures. We would guess hers are from Eileen Fisher, but this beige Entireworld one captures the look too.

If you prefer something that will give you some color, this light-green version is spring-y.

A similar (and less expensive) option, with just the slightest ruffle, that also comes in black and white.

A pretty, dark floral that would layer nicely under a blazer.

When I saw the neck on this one, I said, “Wow.”

A turtleneck the color of an actual turtle with a charming contrasting neck.

Photo: Retailer

If you want to ensure that your tucked-in turt doesn’t budge, try a turtleneck bodysuit.

Going-out turtlenecks

Two years ago, when I first admitted to a turtleneck obsession, the going-out turtleneck seemed like a newly emerging category. Now, I’d say we’re in something of a going-out-turtleneck boom, with plenty of fun, bright, sheer, and slinky options. It may sound counterintuitive to wear a shirt that conceals the entire upper half of your body when you’re trying to look hot, but a going-out turtleneck has a smart allure that the typical going-out top lacks.

The spandex in this one gives it a little sheen; imagine how nice it would look on the dance floor.

If M.C. Escher were into turtlenecks, we bet he would have liked this one.

This gauzy number from Our Legacy’s women’s line could be layered with a bodysuit or bra, depending on how much you want to show (and if you wear it with a shirt underneath, it would probably be fine for work, too).

This wavy-mesh turtleneck brings to mind a composition book, and the pattern is called the “Latte Animal.” What’s not to like?

A less expensive animal print.

If one were to splurge on a turtleneck, this gorgeous autumnal one from Dries Van Noten would be a worthy candidate.

A much less expensive dark floral turtleneck.

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I Can’t Stop Buying Turtlenecks