Turtle Power

Turtleneck jumpers have long been in and out of men’s fashion, but could this be the year they turn from passing fad to a true essential for the modern day male? Whether you like it or not, X-Factor is back on UK television, and even though it might be funny to laugh at the deluded wannabes that grace its stage, my mind has been elsewhere when watching the show; namely focussed on the sharp style of both Gary Barlow and Dermot O’Leary. Who knew? Both of these gentlemen are well loved here in Britain, and it seems like their personal style has jumped a level over the past couple of years.

Dermot has particularly stood out for me over recent weeks. He seems to have a real penchant for turtlenecks at the moment, and although I had heard and seen rumblings of the item becoming a trend piece for autumn/winter, I had no idea that they would take off this fast. Indeed, it seems they are already becoming popular within this transitional period between the end of summer and autumn, as none other than the ever dapper Will Young also sported one on BBC breakfast the week after:

Dermot o'Leary and Will Young Rocking The Turtleneck Jumper

Today we will take a quick look at where this trend came from, which design houses were the biggest backers of it, and how you could integrate it into your wardrobe this year.

On The Runways

When doing research into who was championing the turtleneck for autumn/winter, the amount of variety and mix of designers pushing the piece was staggering. Below you can see catwalk images from Roberto Cavalli, Maison Martin Margiela, Calvin Klein and Hermes but the key is how they all are utilising the turtleneck in the same way – layered under smart tailoring and refined pieces such as trenches and wool coats. Even Margiela, who is known for more avant garde fashion forward designs, utilised bold coloured turtlenecks underneath classic tailoring and gentlemen overcoats.

A key point to take notice of is the amount of colour variation we are seeing for the new season. No longer does your turtleneck have to be just navy or black, there is everything from vivid greens, to bold burgundy and the colour of the season; orange. They have also become much thinner and slim fitting. The style we saw most on the catwalk was the fine-gauge weight knit, which is much more versatile and enables you to layer underneath items such as blazers for work, or even thicker knit cardigans or sweaters [shown in main article image above]. Think the same weight as an All Saints merino wool knit and you are close to the thickness you want.

Men's Turtlenecks on A/W2011 Runways - Roberto Cavalli, Maison Martin Margiela, Calvin Klein and Hermes

How To Style

Now, as we mentioned above, the KEY turtleneck to add to your wardrobe this year would be the fine-gauge lightweight knit version in a slim fit. You can layer this underneath blazers, trench coats or wool overcoats easily, and the neck line adds some intrigue and a modified silhouette when your coat or jacket is done up to the top.

However, for those of you looking for something warmer and more of a statement, you could opt for a thick knit version with cable or pattern detailing (most probably Fair Isle). These are no longer ‘unfashionable’ and I particularly like the marbled version by Cheap Monday in the product picks below. You should use them in the same way you would your thick knit jumpers and sweaters; don’t over dress them and instead let them become the focal point; pair with chinos, jeans or trousers, and then finish with a simple overcoat or jacket. These are simple fashion looks which can be thrown on in an instant.

The Look Of The Season

The key look of the season is suitable for most offices, events or formal occasions. The turtleneck paired with your suit is fast becoming one of the most popular alternatives to a bog standard shirt and tie combination. There is something so effortless and refined about pairing a turtleneck with a classic blazer – it is almost continental in its aesthetic. When you think about the stylish men of Paris or Milan, you could see them wearing this combination to work with some loafers, and pulling it off with ease. Why not try substituting your shirt for a lightweight turtleneck this autumn for one working day each week?

If you are not willing (or could not get away with) wearing a turtleneck to work, how about just layered underneath a great blazer and paired with slim jeans or chinos? Take a look at the look book below to see some amazing examples of guys who have pulled this style off perfectly. If you are wearing a bold coloured blazer, then tone down your turtleneck and anchor your outfit with a navy, grey or black version. If you are utilising your timeless navy blazer, then add a pop of colour with a beautiful burgundy or orange piece.

Finally, you don’t have to dress your turtleneck up. If you want something casual but refined for a weekend, then they look great on their own paired with simple jeans or chinos, whilst they also look just as good underneath casual outerwear such as denim jackets, varsity jackets or even leathers.

Men's Turtlenecks Fashion Look Book

  • Smart drape roll neck
  • Demise Funnel
  • Nordick Funnel
  • Cheap Monday Drax Roll Neck Knit
  • YMC Navy Chunky Roll Neck Knit
  • John Smedley Belvoir Roll Neck Sweater
  • John Smedley Belvoir Roll Neck Sweater
  • CAMO San Teodoro Rollneck Jumper
  • ASOS Cable Roll Neck Jumper
  • NORSE PROJECTS Kaupang Dark Navy Knit
  • NIGEL CABOURN Navy Four Way Roll Neck Knit
  • Universal Works Grey Marl Wool Rollneck Jumper
  • gucci Roll-neck cable knit alpaca wool jumper
  • acne Fool double layer jumper
  • PS by Paul Smith Contrast Panel Merino Wool Roll Neck
  • Jil Sander Men's Turtle Neck
  • Maison Martin Margiela 14 Replica Roll Neck Jumper
  • FOLK Murky Blue Peepin Roll Neck Knit