When you think of an easy fashion item that’s modern and stylish, your mind probably doesn’t go straight to the turtleneck. This often-overlooked wardrobe staple has a bit of a reputation for being boring.
It’s something we expect to see in the office, not the catwalk.
At least, that’s the unfair (in our opinion) association of the turtleneck. In reality, the turtleneck is a versatile wardrobe staple. They’re ideal for transitional dressing and can be layered throughout winter.
Once you start recognizing the genius of turtlenecks, you’ll find plenty of new ways to use this useful garment to update your style.
If you aren’t convinced about the wonders of the turtleneck, take a look at this guide. We’ve covered plenty of different ways to style a turtleneck, for every occasion and every body type.
By the end, we hope you love the turtleneck as much as we do.
Quick Tips On Styling Your Turtleneck
A turtleneck is a really versatile item. It’s great for layering, but it also looks pretty excellent when worn on its own. With that said, there are a few style tips to keep in mind when wearing a turtleneck.
Once you’ve learned these simple tricks to styling a turtleneck, getting dressed will be a breeze.
First, the turtleneck is all about balance. Turtlenecks have a lot of fabric to them, just by definition. They cover the neck, the chest, and the shoulders, and most turtlenecks have long sleeves.
You need to balance all that coverage when you choose an outfit.
That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a turtleneck with a pair of cut-off denim shorts. Instead, consider volume, thickness, and length.
A fitted turtleneck will pair best with different styles than a slouchy knit turtleneck. When you understand the balance, the whole look will come together.
Second, consider the type of look you’re trying to create. Turtlenecks on their own tend to have an association with sophisticated workwear.
You can lean into that look, creating a classic outfit with wide-legged trousers and layered shirts. Or you can go in the opposite direction. Make your turtleneck fun with a bright mini skirt and a t-shirt on top.
Once you know the style you’re going for, consider your outfit from head to toe. You want to create a cohesive look so the turtleneck blends in.
Third, look to the past for inspiration. The turtleneck has been around for centuries. It was originally designed to be worn under armor, but you don’t need to go that far back (unless you like the chainmail look). Instead, we’re talking about the 1960s onwards.
The turtleneck has been experimented with for decades, with different styles playing to what was popular in each era. If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your turtleneck, look at what styling choices worked before.
Okay, with those basic steps considered, let’s take a look at some specific clothing examples for styling your turtleneck.
Turtleneck Outfit Ideas For Every Occasion
1. Keep It Monochrome
Looking for a way to wear your turtleneck that’s super chic and easy? Go for a monochromatic look.
Keeping to a single color palette makes it easier to play with volumes and shapes, plus it has that laid-back ease of an outfit that looks good without the effort.
When it comes to the turtleneck, monochromatic black is the obvious choice. It has that 1960s Audrey Hepburn style, as if you’ve stepped straight off the streets of Paris (Also check out French Girl Style Guide).
Pair with some simple jewelry, big sunglasses, and slicked-back hair to finish the look.
But you don’t have to default to basic black. Bright jewel tones are great for monochromatic dressing. In fall, try a warm amber or a deep burgundy.
Monochromatic dressing doesn’t mean everything has to be the exact same hue. That’s pretty hard to achieve with clothing. However, try to keep the undertones and overtones limited.
You don’t want anything to strike an awkward dissonance. Start with the turtleneck in your chosen color and build the outfit from there.
2. Paired With A Shirt
There are many reasons to love the turtleneck, but versatility must be close to the top. The turtleneck works as both outerwear and a base layer, which gives you plenty of room to play around.
Try wearing your turtleneck under a button-up shirt. A loose, boyfriend-style shirt works best. Anything too form-fitting might cling too closely to the knit fabric. Leave a few buttons undone at the top, so that it opens onto the turtleneck.
There are a couple of ways to play with this trend. Tuck your shirt and turtleneck into a pair of linen pants for a formal daytime look. Wear with a midi skirt for a sophisticated evening style.
Or knot your shirt at the front and pair it with slouchy jeans for a fun 90s look.
Turtlenecks can be tight-fitting, and they have a tendency to cling to every part of you. For days when you want a little extra coverage, we love this layering style.
3. Under A Slouchy T-Shirt
For a while, the turtleneck had a reputation for being a bit stale. Worn simply, it looked like something fit for the office. Not the kind of modern wardrobe staple it’s become.
If you want to tone down the workplace vibe of the standard turtleneck, a quick trick is to wear it under a t-shirt. Leaning into the early 00s layering trend, this has a casual cool that is perfect for transitional dressing.
You need a boxy t-shirt and a tight-fitting turtleneck for this style to really pop. Play around with the color levels. If you have a bright turtleneck, go for a simple t-shirt on top.
For a neutral turtleneck, add a graphic tee. This look is all about keeping it casual, so stick with boyfriend jeans and sneakers.
As with the turtleneck and shirt, a turtleneck and t-shirt works for days when you want some extra coverage. But while you might wear a shirt and turtleneck to the office, this is for running errands and casual hangouts.
4. With Wide Legged Pants
Lean into the vintage appeal of the turtleneck by pairing it with wide-legged pants. This is another way to play with the monochromatic style we mentioned earlier, but it’s also great for color blocking.
Try contrasting a black turtleneck with tan pants for a retro style. Or go all out and pair bold, bright tones for an eye-catching effect.
We mentioned above that turtlenecks are often a case of balance, and that’s what we love about this look. It really plays with proportions, using a slim top combined with lots of volume below.
Wear with high heels to elongate the legs and lengthen the silhouette.
This look is not a casual look. However, it is good for office wear (particularly in a neutral color palette). And we love it for meals out and cultural trips. It’s a look that shows plenty of quiet confidence.
5. Tucked Into Jeans
Turtleneck plus jeans equals an easy outfit for looking good when the seasons are changing. Not quite sure what the weather is up to? Try a turtleneck and jeans. Grab your favorite jacket and you’re ready to go.
There are so many ways you can play around with this look. You can choose a tight-fit turtleneck or mix things up with a slouchy sweater style. Go for relaxed-fit boyfriend jeans or try a tight skinny jean finish.
Now, it’s time to mix and match! A bodycon turtleneck will add a fitted finish to boyfriend jeans but looks just as good with something a little skinnier.
A slouchy turtleneck brings volume to your favorite tight jeans, but baggy with baggy has effortless cool.
6. Worn Over A Midi Skirt
Emulate street style cool with this look, which pairs a slouchy knitted turtleneck with a sleek midi skirt.
The simple layering technique is a great way to dress down a sophisticated midi skirt, but you can take this look right through to the evening with some smart accessories.
This style works because it pairs volume with volume. The turtleneck top is loose and comfortable, while the midi skirt offers plenty of movement. It’s the kind of layering that really shouldn’t work, but somehow does!
If you have a midi skirt that you love, but can never find the right top for, try this transitional look. It’s perfect for between seasons when you want something cozy but not too warm.
When it comes to footwear, pick something that matches the vibe you’re trying to create. Going out for cocktails? Wear heels. Meeting friends for brunch?
Try some boots. Although, if you’re on the short side, high heels can really extend the line of the leg, for an excellent effect.
7. Beneath A Blazer
Leaning into the classical style of the turtleneck, a blazer brings an air of sophistication to your daytime dressing.
The best pairing for a blazer is a fitted turtleneck. You can pair a slouchy turtleneck with a blazer, but you might find it bunches up (particularly around the sleeves).
And by keeping the turtleneck sleek, you have more room to play around with the blazer.
To avoid this look becoming too “standard office wear”, try new proportions. A cropped blazer with wide-legged pants requires careful layering but looks amazing if you can get the balance right.
An oversized blazer with jeans encapsulates smart casual with your own twist.
A turtleneck and blazer are such a classic pairing that we like to add some personality with accessories and prints. Chunky boots are a modern update, while a pair of statement earrings draw the eye somewhere new.
Or try a boucle jacket. It’s very on-trend right now, and the rough texture contrasts nicely with a smooth knit.
8. With A Mini Skirt
We’ve spoken a lot about playing with proportions when dressing a turtleneck, and few looks incorporate that more than the turtleneck and mini skirt.
With lots of fabric on top and only a little bit below, this look is all about that important balance.
Turtlenecks and mini skirts have a kind of flirty charm to them. The turtleneck says smart and sophisticated, while the mini skirt says you like to have fun.
Once again, this is a look that works for transitional dressing. Pair with some thick tights and you’re ready to go!
If you like a 90s style, we recommend a fitted turtleneck and a wool skirt. Add on some chunky boots and wear your hair loose. And if you want to go all out, some butterfly clips never go amiss!
But for a more modern take, try a slouchy turtleneck and a leather skirt. Keep the legs bare, or try some colorful or patterned tights. The contrasting textures and shapes keep the look fresh.
9. Under A Dress
No one wants to say goodbye to their favorite mini dress for another year, but when the weather starts to turn cold, it’s a choice between style and comfort. At some point, the mini dress has to go away.
Or, you can extend the wear of a mini dress by pairing it with a turtleneck! This look is particularly good with pinafore and cami-style dresses. But have a play around with it.
You might be surprised just how many of your dresses can make it through fall with a turtleneck and some boots.
This is also a good look if you’ve bought a mini dress that’s perhaps a little too mini. It might be good for the occasional beach trip, but for shopping trips and casual hangouts, it doesn’t offer the coverage you need.
Slip on your turtleneck (and maybe some leggings), layer up the dress, and you’re ready to go!
10. Combined With Plaid (90s Style)
The 90s have been hot for a while now, and this doesn’t look like a trend that’s going anywhere fast. So, if you’re still quoting Clueless on the regular, why not combine a turtleneck with a touch of plaid?
There’s something about plaid and a turtleneck that just works. A plaid skirt is an easy way to wear the trend. With a black turtleneck tucked in, you’ll look like a 90s dream. Or try a more modern twist with a pair of plaid pants.
Alternatively, add some plaid with your outerwear. A plaid jacket or blazer can be layered on top of a turtleneck for cold weather style. Dip a toe into the trend with a plaid scar — wear with a fitted turtleneck, to avoid overheating.
Are There Any Turtlenecks To Avoid?
The basic turtleneck doesn’t really go out of fashion. It’s such a wardrobe staple that even when it isn’t the hottest trend, it’s still a reliable piece of clothing for a chilly day.
The slim-fit turtleneck has better longevity, but the slouchy turtleneck is still a valuable addition to your closet.
However, while the classic turtleneck might always be on trend, there have been some turtleneck innovations that haven’t proved quite so eternal.
Things like open shoulders, ruffle details, cropped sleeves — we’re not saying you have to stay away from them. It’s just that these looks are likely to be dated in a few years.
Get your wear out of them while you can. (And when the trend has moved on, use them for layering.) Meanwhile, the classic turtleneck remains eternal.
Turtlenecks also work for any body shape. From fitted to flowing, the turtleneck is like the classic t-shirt. It looks good on anyone of any body type.
Choose a turtleneck that suits your own individual style, whether that’s sleek and sophisticated or bold and daring.
It’s really easy to overlook the turtleneck when you’re putting together an outfit. It’s such a wardrobe staple that we can sometimes forget just how much you can do with a turtleneck.
But from office wear to parties to coffee runs, the turtleneck can go pretty much anywhere.
We hope this guide has helped you discover new ways to wear the turtleneck. The turtleneck is really on trend right now, and we don’t see it going anywhere soon.
Every time the weather turns cold, the turtleneck comes back in fashion! So, next time there’s a cold snap, try one of these turtleneck styling tips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, turtlenecks are still in style! Turtlenecks are a wardrobe staple, a classic item that can be worn time and time again. Pair your turtleneck with a jacket and jeans for an easy everyday look. It’s ideal for transitional dressing.
But while the turtleneck can be worn in a classic style, you can update it for a modern look. The turtleneck really is versatile, and we keep finding new ways to experiment with the piece.
Turtlenecks can be made to look modern by playing with proportions and textures. We love pairing a fitted turtleneck with a pair of wide-legged trousers, or a slouchy knit with a sleek midi skirt.
It might sound contradictory, but you can make turtlenecks look modern by looking to the past for inspiration. The 90s are a huge trend right now (and they’ve been a trend for years). Layer a turtleneck under a shirt for a look that’s both retro and modern.