Turtlenecks Steeped in Fashion History

Turtleneck Origins and Acceptance

The popular turtleneck of today came about as a necessity rather than a fashion option. During the turn of the century, seamen and deckhands were in need of a clothing accessory that could protect their neck from the bitterly cold winds. A scarf was impractically dangerous, exhibiting the potential for snagging on deck hardware or being caught up the rigging. This prompted the invention of the first polo-neck sweater, which was a collar extension for the neck. The first material was comprised of heavy worsted wool. The first collars were fitted with buttons, and then later replaced with zippers. Zippers and buttons were excluded some time later with the invention of more lasting and stretchable fabrics that allowed a permanent attachment. The general public began to take notice and accept the turtleneck as popular wearing apparel, taking advantage of the many colors and styles

The 1940s saw the turtleneck sweater adopted by the female audience, who found favor with some of the more elegant materials like cashmere and silk. The ’60s brought about a more frenzied interest in the turtleneck when many of the rock musicians began wearing them. Noel Coward, respected for his artistry and station, began wearing turtlenecks for all occasions and the public took immediate attention. He was, after all, known as a walking fashion statement, regarded for his flamboyance, pose, poise, chic and cheek. A groundswell followed, cementing the turtleneck in the concrete foundation of fashion and style.

It seemed every clothing manufacturer wanted a piece of the pie. Some of the old stylistic trends came back into vogue-zipper or no zipper, with or without buttons and the inclusion of pleated designs. Some turtlenecks were loose fitting, having shallow or large fold-down collars. Business men began to wear them under suit jackets and sports coats, and they were popularized by such luminaries as Ted Kennedy and Steve Jobs of Apple Inc.

Today, the turtleneck has shown resurgence, reminding us of an era that spawned bold, new looks. It’s as practical and classy as ever, harkening to a time of fond memories. It’s here to stay, fondly engrained in our consciousness.

Love them or hate, turtlenecks are here to stay and are recapturing popularity in the fashion trends of today. They appeal to men and women of all ages, whether they’re used for formal or leisure attire. They are applicable to a wide range of outfits, styles and themes. Smart and classy looking, turtlenecks also serve the practical function of keeping the neck area warm and cozy, negating the need for a scarf. They blend well with sports activities like golf or venues that require just a little bit more warmth for the occasion. The short sleeve turtleneck allows easy summertime wearing, but still retains that classic look. The history and application of the turtleneck is short, but interesting.