I have a confession to make. Turtlenecks make me deeply uncomfortable. There’s something about the cut of a high-necked jumper that makes me feel as if I’m not quite doing it right.
The turtleneck has a deceptive simplicity that makes you think it’s easy to pull off. But the figure-skimming high-collared top demands a certain posture; without it, you can end up looking like a beanbag. The turtleneck is the opposite of comfort wear – it is unforgiving. Relax while wearing one, and boom: a double chin makes itself known.
Owners of a Hollywood torso, such as Michael B Jordan, favour an almost muscle-fit turtleneck. Steve Jobs inspired a generation of techbros with his plain black version. But historically the turtleneck articulated a kind of modish elegance: on Steve McQueen in Bullitt or Tom Jones in his hip-thrusting prime. It was a shorthand for style with a hint of rebellion: Andy Warhol, or John Lennon in a white one at his wedding to Yoko. Wearing one is simple… if you’re an iconic male celebrity.
For the rest of us, I’m quite fond of the “hatchling” trend, where you layer your turtleneck under a unbuttoned shirt – the fancier the shirt, the plainer the turtleneck. Or try placing a chain over the turtleneck so the line of vision isn’t so focused on your torso.
And, obviously, always stand up straight if you can. Today I’m really going for it and confronting my biggest knitwear fear. The turtleneck in question has a bold 70s pattern on it. I purposefully push myself up to stand a little bit taller, just in case I’m confronted by any unsightly lumps or bumps. Not so scary, after all.