A New York Times article recently asked, “Can turtlenecks ever be cool again?” I looked down. I was wearing my own favorite turtleneck – a fuzzy black one from Cos – and scratched my head. Looked cool to me.
Some would certainly say no– that turtlenecks should be reserved for a Steve Jobs type of guy, or the people you’d see in an awkward family photo meme.
But “cool” is a subjective term, and, to me, they’ve always been the epitome of style. My Instagram bio has said “turtleneck enthusiast” long before Drake decided they were suitable for dancing. I was rocking turtleneck hair years before it was anything other than an accident that made me look like I was trying to determine if I should get a haircut. I invented the weekly “turtleneck Tuesday” holiday when my best friends and I would wear turtlenecks to class in grad school. I had a strange obsession with philosopher Michel Foucault because he, too, was a fan of the turtleneck, so I knew he was trustworthy.
My love affair began in high school where Turtlenecks were a staple of the winter dress code. It was either a turtleneck or a polo shirt with a cardigan over top, and layering was too much effort, so I always opted for the turtleneck. I’m ticklish, and I’ll admit that sometimes a too-tight turtleneck can feel like someone’s using a feather duster to my neck, but I just try not to think about it so I can continue looking like I have half a clue about what I’m doing with my life.
Some people like to wear turtlenecks because they hide hickeys, but I’m not fourteen, and that’s not why I opt for them. I like turtlenecks because they’re stylish and sleek. They look like you put at least half a thought into what you threw on your body, even if you’re wearing yoga pants. Turtlenecks get a lot of flack from some haters who obviously don’t know what style is, which is another reason why I’m so partial to them. Not everyone is about that turtle life, which makes you stand out from the rest of the sweater crowd in the dead of winter.
Turtlenecks are also more of a commitment than throwing on a crewneck sweater because you’re owning the fact that your neck will feel like it’s trapped in a tube for the entire day (which is, of course, totally fine by me). In fact, the soft grip of a turtleneck is, in many ways, a great comfort to me. It’s similar getting a hug from my grandmother – it just makes me feel like not everything in the world sucks.
There’s something to be said about a fashion staple that feels like you’re wearing a blanket, and that’s exactly how turtlenecks feel (at least the ones I buy—mostly from Madewell, Cos, or Reformation). They’re a way of staying cozy without rolling up to the office in a onesie. They’re the most versatile clothing item one could ever hope for. Going to the gym but it’s cold out? Throw on a turtleneck. Going to eat at Olive Garden? Throw on a turtleneck. Going to a job interview? Throw on a turtleneck! Going fly-fishing in Alaska? THROW ON A TURTLENECK! Catch my drift?
Oversized turtlenecks, fitted turtlenecks, turtleneck dresses, turtleneck bodysuits, I don’t care what form it comes in, I’ll take it. If I ever won the lottery, I’d probably film a Rihanna-like music video and make it rain turtlenecks and then do some snow angels in the pile. That’s dedication. Some crazies think turtlenecks are only for the winter months, but I wear them year round. A little neck sweat from a fitted turtle t-shirt in the summertime never killed anybody. They say looking stylish is always a sacrifice, right?
Another plus to turtlenecks is that they make scarves optional in the dead of winter. Sometimes I’ll literally pull the neck of my turtleneck up to my eyeballs if the wind chill is deathly enough. Sometimes I do it anyway just for fun because I’m weird like that. If you ever anticipate being in an awkward situation where you might want to laugh, silent scream, or hide your nose hairs, a turtleneck with an extra-roomy neck is definitely your go-to.
My reasons for loving turtlenecks are infinite. I could sit here and bore you with a million more reasons why wearing a turtleneck makes you better than everyone else, but you’ve probably got a life. So, instead, I’ll leave you with this little love letter.
The New York Times questioning your ability to get cool again is irrelevant because, to me, you’ve always been perfect. Please don’t ever stop being the one thing (other than alcohol) that I can always count on to make me feel confident that I’m doing life right even if I’m singing Cher at a karaoke bar on a Wednesday night.