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The Wu-Tang Clan probably weren’t talking about stellar knitwear when they urged us to protect our necks, but that doesn’t detract from the best turtlenecks’ specific kind of power. Some wardrobe essentials help keep your style on point, while others transform your entire persona. Chinos and pocket T-shirts fall into the former camp, while moto jackets and Chelsea boots are in the latter. If you’ve ever worn a turtleneck, you know where to put it here. One minute you’re you, a regular person, the next minute you’ve giving off “the guy she told you not to worry about” energy.
For some, the turtleneck’s intensity is overwhelming. It’s too serious, too sophisticated, too “I’m rich and important”—just too damn much, period. So we’re here to low-key judge those people and encourage you not to be one of them. Since when has looking serious or absurdly wealthy been a bad thing? Also: No one is saying you need to wear it with a fur coat and sit in the corner twirling your mustache all night! Feel free to de-stuff the turtleneck with baggy chinos, selvedge jeans, or even track pants if you’re feeling extra relaxed. Just don’t live the rest of your days in crewnecks; put your face on a platter for all to enjoy.
These are our favorites—the best turtlenecks on the market right now—worth sticking your neck out for.
The Best Turtlenecks, at a Glance
The Best Wear-With-Everything Turtleneck
Merino wool is a workhouse cold-weather fabric, a high-quality winter staple that offers plenty of warmth minus the heft. So it makes sense that Uniqlo puts the material to good use in its turtleneck, a no-fuss joint you can throw under a winter-weight blazer to channel a Hollywood icon of yesteryear (or, uh, this year), or wear on its own with slim jeans and Chelsea boots when you want to add a little pizzazz to a date night fit.
The Best “Prep Is Back, Baby!” Turtleneck
J.Crew’s collegiate-inspired roll neck feels just as ready for an extremely stylish tailgate as it does a weekend upstate—and that easygoing, easy-wearing attitude is a fantastic approximation of what the brand is doing so well right now. With Brendon Babenzien at the helm, the erstwhile catalog-only retailer is plumbing the depths of its archives, unearthing a treasure trove of sporty, retro-inflected Americana to riff on. And like the best jazz solos, the results are often a mishmash of different influences, and almost always delightful. The brand’s not-quite-turtleneck pulls its broad horizontal stripes from a classic rugby shirt, its oversized letterman patch from a varsity jacket, and its prep-meets-punk vibe from the same well of energy that animates its Giant-fit chinos. Dressing like a member of the Dead Poets Society rarely looks so cool.
The Best Hippy-Dippy Turtleneck
In 2022, it’s hard to swing a crocheted bucket hat without hitting a DIY-inflected grail that looks like your aunt’s quarantine project gone gloriously right. Trippy patchwork chore jackets? Artfully repaired jeans? Shirts made from upcycled vintage quilts? Now add Chamula’s groovy turtleneck to the list, a beefy, wholly unique knit inspired by designer Yuki Matsuda’s sojourns through Mexico. Sure, the hardy-but-soft merino wool will keep you toasty during the next polar vortex, but it’s the flower print that’ll help conjure memories of sunnier days ahead long after the greenery on your windowsill has shriveled.
The Best Tee-Like Turtleneck
Remember those scratchy wool turtlenecks your parents forced you to wear on picture day in 3rd grade? This one’s nothing like them. Instead of crafting its swankified T-shirt from the usual wool blends, Land’s End makes its aptly-named Super-T from a ridiculously soft jersey cotton, a fabric that shares more in common with your favorite thermal than any itchy abomination you dreaded pulling on in elementary school. When it’s mind-numbingly cold outside and you’re freezing through your puffer, it’s just the layer you need to keep frostbite at bay without giving in to the siren song of head-to-toe fleece. And when the weather isn’t so dreary, it’s the only piece in your closet that’ll keep you feeling this cozy—and looking this pulled together—on a lazy weekend grocery run.
The Best Turtleneck to Channel Your Inner Rugged Old Salt
If you associate turtlenecks with grizzled sea dogs staring contemplatively into the sea (or Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse), you’re already thinking along the right lines. Inis Meain’s beefy-as-hell version riffs on the silhouette’s nautical origins, but swaps the usual ecru lambswool for a dense wool-cashmere blend done up in earthy green tones—and incorporates a zig-zagging pattern for extra visual oomph. Look yonder, captain! We spot an absolutely tremendous fit on the horizon.