The Chunky Turtleneck

A friend of mine recently asked me if I knew of a good source for chunky turtlenecks, which reminded of how much I like wearing mine. The one I bought is a cream-colored cable knit with a thickly ribbed, fold down collar. I think it pairs well with heavy outerwear pieces, such as duffle coats, waxed cotton jackets, and pea coats. Ideally, you would wear it when it’s bitterly cold outside, so that it’s more of a functional garment than just a fashion piece.

The best chunky turtleneck I know of is made by Inis Meain, a traditional knitwear maker based on one of the Aran Islands outside the coast of Ireland. Their sweaters are exceptional, but admittedly also very expensive. You can purchase one of their Aran turtleneck designs from Axel’s. For other options in this price tier, consider the offerings by Malo, Sandro, and E. Tautz. Note that Barney’s and Mr. Porter will hold 75%+ off sales at the end of the season (though, that’ll still leave many of those pieces in the “very-expensive” range).

For something more affordable, there’s S.E.H. Kelly’s moss-stitch knit and Ralph Lauren’s cable knit (the latter of the two is having a pretty big sale right now, incidentally, but unfortunately not on that sweater). Fisherman Out of Ireland also has a cabled and ribbed turtleneck available for $150, which you can buy from them through email. I’ve never handled any of their products, but reviews online seem to be good.

Finally, for lack of a better descriptor, there are slightly more rugged options that stay true to the sweater’s workwear origins. Orvis, North Sea Clothing Company, Nigel Cabourn, Aero Leathers, What Price Glory, and Freeman’s Sporting Club may have better bets if you’re likely to wear your turtleneck with things such as jeans and workwear jackets.

A word of caution before you proceed: though Tom Junod once had a great article in GQ about how his father religiously believed that turtlenecks were the most flattering thing a man can wear, I think they really should only be worn by men with defined jawlines. It doesn’t have to be model-esque, but a man with a weak jawline or flabby chin will only look worse when a turtleneck covers up whatever little definition he has. Best to be honest with yourself before you splurge on an expensive sweater. 

This beautiful turtleneck is the Mariner Sweater by Freeman’s Sporting Club. It’s 88% shetland, 12% cashmere, which sounds nice for the neck. The description helpfully offers “THIS IS NOT A FASHION SWEATER!” and “THIS IS A WINTER TOOL!” Actually, while I might disagree with the former statement, I agree with its sentiment - this looks like a very, very high quality piece, and while it may be fashionable, it’s a genuinely classic style. The Freeman’s pieces I have do not scrimp on quality, and this looks to be no exception. I should hope not, for $387.
If you like the idea of a sweater like this, but can’t afford the chunk of change it costs, try this reproduction WWII Submariner Sweater from What Price Glory? It’s all wool, and they have a good rep, but it isn’t knit in New York City. That said, it does cost more than $300 less.
Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. After all, this is A WINTER TOOL.
via Selectism

This beautiful turtleneck is the Mariner Sweater by Freeman’s Sporting Club. It’s 88% shetland, 12% cashmere, which sounds nice for the neck. The description helpfully offers “THIS IS NOT A FASHION SWEATER!” and “THIS IS A WINTER TOOL!” Actually, while I might disagree with the former statement, I agree with its sentiment - this looks like a very, very high quality piece, and while it may be fashionable, it’s a genuinely classic style. The Freeman’s pieces I have do not scrimp on quality, and this looks to be no exception. I should hope not, for $387.

If you like the idea of a sweater like this, but can’t afford the chunk of change it costs, try this reproduction WWII Submariner Sweater from What Price Glory? It’s all wool, and they have a good rep, but it isn’t knit in New York City. That said, it does cost more than $300 less.

Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. After all, this is A WINTER TOOL.

via Selectism

I just bought two cashmere turtlenecks on eBay. One is gray, by Black Fleece. The other is cream, by Pringle (and old). I’m pretty sure I can wear them. Pretty sure.

I just bought two cashmere turtlenecks on eBay. One is gray, by Black Fleece. The other is cream, by Pringle (and old). I’m pretty sure I can wear them. Pretty sure.

Q and Answer: What Sweaters With What Shirts?
Jason asks: What are  the rules re: sweaters and vnecks and wearing shirts underneath them  again? V-necks = no collars. Crew necks with collars, right? 
Turtlenecks (or roll necks) should be worn with an undershirt, and can be worn in lieu of a shirt and tie in casual situations.  They’re particularly suitable in inclement weather, in the country, or in the evening.  They should typically go under a top layer of some kind - either a tailored jacket or something more wintry.  Without something on top, they can sometimes look a little Learning Annex teacher-y.Crew neck sweaters are generally even more casual, and are usually worn instead of a jacket, rather than with a jacket.  They can be worn over a collarless shirt (like a t-shirt), or with collared shirt, but aren’t usually worn with a tie.  If you’re wearing a crew neck sweater with a collared shirt, you typically will use the collar of the sweater to keep the collar of the shirt up, rather than pulling the collar of the shirt out over the collar of the sweater.  A button-down collar will help.
A V-neck sweater can be used in more formal situations, as it provides room for a tie.  It can also be layered with a sport coat, or even a suit in a not-too-formal situation.  If you’re going to wear a v-neck without a tie, your collar should usually be button-down, or you’ll end up with it splayed over your sweater like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  There is the occasional non-button-down collar that will stay up with a v-neck, but it’s not generally the rule.  A v-neck is particularly useful with a bow tie, because it keeps you from showing a lot of distracting shirt space below the neck.  You can wear a v-neck with a tie but without a jacket, but I don’t necessarily recommend it - it sort of makes you look like you left your jacket somewhere, or you have to go to a job interview and don’t own a suit.
Above, Greg from Knoxville demonstrates an excellent casual use of a v-neck, with an under-control shirt collar and a down vest.

Q and Answer: What Sweaters With What Shirts?

Jason asks: What are the rules re: sweaters and vnecks and wearing shirts underneath them again? V-necks = no collars. Crew necks with collars, right?

Turtlenecks (or roll necks) should be worn with an undershirt, and can be worn in lieu of a shirt and tie in casual situations.  They’re particularly suitable in inclement weather, in the country, or in the evening.  They should typically go under a top layer of some kind - either a tailored jacket or something more wintry.  Without something on top, they can sometimes look a little Learning Annex teacher-y.

Crew neck sweaters are generally even more casual, and are usually worn instead of a jacket, rather than with a jacket.  They can be worn over a collarless shirt (like a t-shirt), or with collared shirt, but aren’t usually worn with a tie.  If you’re wearing a crew neck sweater with a collared shirt, you typically will use the collar of the sweater to keep the collar of the shirt up, rather than pulling the collar of the shirt out over the collar of the sweater.  A button-down collar will help.


A V-neck sweater can be used in more formal situations, as it provides room for a tie.  It can also be layered with a sport coat, or even a suit in a not-too-formal situation.  If you’re going to wear a v-neck without a tie, your collar should usually be button-down, or you’ll end up with it splayed over your sweater like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  There is the occasional non-button-down collar that will stay up with a v-neck, but it’s not generally the rule.  A v-neck is particularly useful with a bow tie, because it keeps you from showing a lot of distracting shirt space below the neck.  You can wear a v-neck with a tie but without a jacket, but I don’t necessarily recommend it - it sort of makes you look like you left your jacket somewhere, or you have to go to a job interview and don’t own a suit.


Above, Greg from Knoxville demonstrates an excellent casual use of a v-neck, with an under-control shirt collar and a down vest.

North Sea Clothing makes reproduction submariner sweaters in the UK.  They cost 115 pounds, including shipping.

North Sea Clothing makes reproduction submariner sweaters in the UK.  They cost 115 pounds, including shipping.