Written by Jon Clarke

Perhaps one of the more polarising styles of knitwear, the turtleneck (also known as roll-neck) jumper is a love or hate kind of garment for many. Seemingly more so than other styles, people associate certain images, characters or stereotypes to the turtleneck - and they’re not all good.

Well we’re here to address the stereotypes, explain why turtleneck jumpers are experiencing one of their most popular trend booms in history, and why you absolutely need some in your autumn wardrobe...


A brief history of the turtleneck jumper

We’ll start with this: in recent history - we’re talking 1990s - the turtleneck jumper had a major image problem. To quote the HeSpokeStyle blog, they were ‘shapeless and the image went from suave businessman to dorky dad, stodgy professor, or an awkward teen trying to cover an embarrassing hickey’.

In popular culture, the turtleneck often conjures images of Del Boy Trotter wearing one underneath his shearling jacket (another fashion revival this winter), or Alan Partridge chilling in his caravan. Both comedy icons, but not people you’d turn to for fashion tips are they?

Then there came the late great genius of Apple, Steve Jobs, who wore his famous black turtleneck and jeans to almost every conference and meeting he attended. And while he brought an element of geek chic to the look, giving it cult appeal (whatever that means), he’s still not exactly a fashion icon.

Until now, the 1960s was the turtleneck’s defining moment. Yves Saint Laurent, Elvis, The Beatles, Steve McQueen, Audrey Hepburn (granted not a man, but still searingly cool) were all names associated with wearing them. But as we know, trends peak then drop - and for the last half of the 20th century the turtleneck fell into fashion obscurity.

Elvis turtleneck

Turtleneck 1960s: a true A-list piece of clothing, fit for kings.

It begs the question then, how the hell did they experience such an incredible resurgence in recent years?


Why turtlenecks are cooler than ever

It’s simple. In a world of very loud, bright fashion - like this summer’s Miami-Vice-esque silk shirt trend - there’s something oddly satisfying about slipping into an elegant, understated turtleneck for the autumn and winter months. No crazy patterns, oversized logos or textures - just core colours, high quality material and superior fit. Paired with a nice blazer or even leather jacket, and you’re on your way to Steve McQueen cool*

*That’s a whole new echelon of cool.

Goodwin Smith Union

The Goodwin Smith knitwear range focuses on three things: quality, fit and comfort.


How to wear a turtleneck with style

Since less is more when it comes to making a turtleneck work, you need to focus on the quality of the materials. 100% Merino wool gives them a luxurious touch, which ensures superior comfort as well as great fit. By hanging nicely on your frame, the right jumper will look good standalone or paired with a jacket - making it one of the most versatile, casual-come-formal items of clothing you’ll own.

Wear with jeans and brogues on a dress-down Friday, or pair with trousers or chinos for a more formal vibe - the turtleneck style can work in multiple ways. Stick to darker, more earthy colours - black, navy, maroon, grey. They’re more slimming, classier and can be paired with more things. Stay away from bright colours and lose fits, unless you drive a yellow Reliant Regal van or work on the Norfolk Nights radio show.

Of course we are a little biased, but a perfect place to start (and end) your turtleneck search this autumn, is by taking a look at our brand new, limited edition knitwear range.



November 02, 2018 — Bonnie Jackson