This season has been all about a return to the fifties and sixties with an emphasis on tailoring and heritage influences. Double-breasted jackets and country fabrics (in the mould of tweed and corduroy) have really rose to prominence but one piece of knitwear is not getting the widespread recognition that many (me mainly) believe it deserves; yes the turtle neck is back for this coming fall and winter.
Turtle, polo or roll neck, the terms are interchangeable and finding one that is common place is like fully deciphering a dress code which reads smart-casual. Thankfully, the naming predicament is where the grey area ends, as the style credentials of the polo neck are all but indisputable.
How to Style
There are a whole host of ways to style a polo neck and to start off I’m going to show you how to successfully style what will undoubtedly be the most popular option for wearing one this season – under a blazer. This style is rather timeless and perfect for those who want to move away from the continuity of the shirt and tie.
There are very few pitfalls here, but to ensure you stay on the right side of faux pas I’m going to run through any snags you may well encounter. Sticking to these guidelines should see you pull off any polo neck inspired look with total ease.
- Know Your Knit – If you are going for a smarter style, or are in the office, opt for a fine-gauge knit. If not, feel free to go chunky; just ensure it fits comfortably under your blazer.
- Get the Perfect Fit – Polo necks (especially when fine-gauge) can be brutally unforgiving, the perfect fit is snug but definitely not tight.
- Block Colours Only – Rather self-explanatory, patterns are great but are best left alone here; you’ve got enough going on with the extra material up top.
- Be Confident – This has become a bit of a buzzword (or phrase) at FashionBeans but the blunt truth is confidence matters. Polo necks may be (wrongly) regarded by some as a general fashion faux pas and proving these naysayers wrong is not a matter of wearing a polo neck but owning it.
Styling a polo neck and blazer is simple; nail the colour combination and fit and you’re pretty much done. I’ve opted for a burgundy roll neck as it’s a quintessential autumn colour and also compliments a navy blazer to perfection. If you want to be really on trend you could elect to ditch the simple single-breast and opt for a double-breasted number, but be aware of the extra width a double breasted blazer will naturally add.
Accessories wise, I would wholeheartedly suggest a good solid pocket square – let’s be fair, none of us should be leaving our pockets empty by now! Compliment the pocket square to your polo neck as our look booker [top left] has, and for our fine burgundy selection a pocket piece in a similar hue would be a safe bet or you could get adventurous by playing with a gold equivalent.
Look number two is sticking with the smarter side of the divide and takes its cue from the high fashion circles – as seen by our look book shot [top centre]. Do it the Lanvin way and wear your polo neck under your white shirt. A fine-gauge knit (merino wool or cotton jersey) is a must here otherwise you will just look bulky and in no way stylish.
Wearing a tie as was styled during the Lanvin show is an option although it will likely turn out to be too restricting; it really does depend on the thickness of the polo neck. Personally I would leave the tie in the draw and opt for a one shirt button opening for both comfort and style – wearing a tie on top may make it look a little too busy in the neck area.
Your choice of blazer should complement the colour of your polo neck. Using the signature of every jewel thief, the black polo neck gives you your pick of blazers. I’ve decided to pair one with a burgundy blazer here to a give a dark, masculine appeal.
The third outfit is a much more casual than the two prior. Pairing a classic leather jacket with your polo neck [top right] is a timeless look and fits in really well with the fifties and sixties resurgence that is influencing current trends.
I’ve opted for a blue polo neck and brown leather jacket for a more vibrant take on this trend. Brown and blue is a tried and tested combination that looks great as they complement each other really well. When we have the odd speckle of sun, accessorise with a classic pair of club master sunglasses to authenticate your 60s look.
This next look is sticking with the jacket over polo neck theme. Pairing your knitwear with a wool coat is a great, warm option and replaces the need for a scarf during the winter days. This is also a great chance to get ahead and rock the coloured coat trend, whilst double-breasted is also worth considering – especially in such a statement piece.
I have decided on a coloured coat layered over a black polo neck to create a contrast between the two shades. If a coloured coat isn’t to your liking, swap the block colour onto your polo-neck and wear neutral outerwear, as in our look book [bottom left]; whichever way you decide, finish off with some pristine black leather gloves.
Look number five is potentially the most interesting look this season when looking to wear a polo neck. Layer your fine-gauge roll neck under a chunkier knit jumper to really combat the cold. Coloured knitwear is set to be big this season and this is a prime opportunity to make use of yours without having to worry about hiding it beneath a scarf or coat.
A grey polo neck underneath a must have orange mohair sweater creates a textured and layered look. A pair of smart navy trousers adds another dimension and texture to the mix, whilst simultaneously finishing off a bang on trend ensemble.
The final outfit is one that appeared in our recent inaugural FashionBeans MAN look book [bottom right] and involves merely wearing a polo neck as a single top layer – showing it off in all its glory. It may appear to be the simplest of all the looks but its offers more than enough potential to put your own stamp on it and experiment with different accessories, textures and colours.
You have two options when wearing a polo neck on top; you can opt for a fine-gauge or a heavy-gauge knit. Our look book already demonstrates how to style a fine-gauge polo neck to perfection, so I won’t offer mimicry advice. However, I am going to put together a look which involves a chunkier heave-gauge knit piece.
One piece of advice; if you’re conscious of the extra material around the neck you can counter balance this easily by simply pushing up the sleeves.
A chunky khaki green roll neck is warm and in keeping with the traditional seasonal tones. Rock this with some mustard cords and a pair of hiking boots; trousers tucked in or out is sheer personal preference.
There we have it, six different ways of styling your polo neck this season. This piece of knitwear has certainly received its fair share of unwarranted criticism over the last decade or so but in reality it is an incredibly versatile and stylish piece of clothing.
- What’s your favourite way to rock a polo neck this season?
- Have you been a devoted polo neck wearer even through the years of stigmatisation?
- Most importantly what do you refer to them as? Polo, turtle or roll neck?
Let us know in the comments…