Men’s Turtleneck Outfit Inspiration: 17 Sophisticated Looks For 2023
From how to style them to choosing the correct fabric and weight, here’s everything you need to know about wearing a turtleneck.
The turtleneck has come a long way in the past decade. Formerly exclusively associated with fisherman and tech CEOs, it’s become the everyman of knitwear, as much at home under an unstructured suit as it is over a pair of raw denim jeans and work boots.
Turtlenecks are easy to wear and add an effortless finish to smart looks, but there are plenty of ways to go screw them up. Don’t pay attention to details like fit and fabric and they can look clumsy and ill thought out, which is where we come in.
From how to style them to choosing the correct material and weight, here’s everything you need to know about wearing a turtleneck.
How to wear a turtleneck
Decide how you want to wear it
Before buying a turtleneck it’s worth considering when and where you want to wear it. Will it be a new addition to the smarter side of your wardrobe and slotted underneath tailoring? Or are you looking for something warm to wear under your arctic parka in the depths of winter? Or do you simply want a new piece of knitwear you can wear to the pub with your mates?
There’s a turtleneck for all of the above, but where you intend to wear it depends on the exact style you should go for.
Consider the fabric/weight
As a general rule of thumb, thicker turtlenecks made from chunkier materials are more casual, whereas lighter knits made from thinner yarns are more formal. A heavyweight turtleneck wouldn’t look right worn with a suit, and a lighter one would jar with casual pieces like jeans and sneakers.
So, for something more laid back, opt for fabrics like lambswool, either woven in a plain knit or with ribbed/cable-knit detailing. Lambswool and equivalent blends tend to be warmer as they boast a denser yarn, so for something winterproof they can’t be beat. Classic fisherman-style turtlenecks are often made from lambswool, so if that’s the look you’re after then you’ll be well catered for.
On the other hand, smarter turtlenecks – the likes of which you’d wear with smart casual pieces or formalwear – are usually made from merino wool, cashmere or lightweight cotton blends. These thinner, more breathable fabrics allow this style to sit neatly under a blazer, making them perfect for wearing to the office or even a wedding reception.
Pay attention to fit
Fit should be one of the key considerations when buying any piece of clothing. With knitwear, and specifically turtlenecks, it can change the entire look and feel of an outfit. Like with fabric choice, there are two distinct ways you can go when it comes to fit. For smarter looks, aim for something on the slimmer end of the spectrum, whereas for a more casual feel, go for a turtleneck in a more relaxed cut.
As always though, it’s easy to stray too far either way. Too slim and you risk looking like you’re wearing a skin-tight base layer; too relaxed and you might be mistaken for wearing your dad’s old jumper. Instead, try to strike a happy medium. Smart turtlenecks in merino wool should flatter your body shape: cut slim through the body yet allowing for plenty of movement, and the fabric shouldn’t be pulling across your chest and shoulders.
With chunkier roll necks, a more relaxed fit is welcomed. For a workwear-inspired look, an oversized knit with dropped shoulders combines perfectly with cargo pants or wide-legged chinos. But again, be wary of going too far with it. Look for a cut that has some volume through the chest and waist but ensure it’s not too long. You’ll want the hem to sit around or just below the hips so that it appears considered, not baggy.
Don’t be afraid of colour
The turtleneck is the perfect accompaniment to a monochrome look. A navy unstructured suit with dark blue roll neck or a charcoal blazer with a mid-grey knit will always look great. But if you want to make a statement, or inject some colour into an otherwise simple outfit, a more vibrant turtleneck could be the answer.
Due to the amount of real estate it takes up, a turtleneck can become the focal point of your look. Try opting for one in a shade of green – anything from olive or emerald combines perfectly with blues, browns and neutrals. Alternatively, a roll neck in stone, rust or burnt orange can be an easy way to spice up your fall/winter wardrobe.
Men’s turtleneck outfit inspiration
Turtleneck for the ‘creative’ office
A thin, merino wool roll neck is a natural pairing for a sharp, office-appropriate blazer. It matches the formality of tailoring yet takes away some of the stuffiness that is traditionally associated with a collared shirt.
Dress it down further by combining the two with jeans and minimal sneakers, for a laid-back business casual outfit.
Military-inspired turtleneck outfit
If you’re going to buy just one turtleneck, go navy. One of the most versatile colours in menswear, it combines perfectly with brown, grey, green and even black, as shown here with this military-inspired look.
When the weather really takes a turn, team your turtleneck with a shearling aviator jacket and you’ll never need a scarf again.
70s-Inspired turtleneck outfit
When it comes to transitional weather, a turtleneck might be the only knitwear style you need. While they work well as an outer layer, they tend to shine under cropped, lightweight jackets such as bombers, Harringtons and blousons.
Think of them like a T-shirt and layer accordingly.
Turtleneck with workwear
While you might wear a chore jacket over a T-shirt or polo shirt in spring, this workwear staple is begging to be worn with a roll neck come fall.
Go for a chunky turtleneck and you’ve got a versatile off-duty look, or combine your chore coat with a lightweight roll neck for easy smart casual attire.
Knits on Knits
This contemporary take on office wear combines two pieces of the moment: the turtleneck and knitted blazer. Layering knitwear over knitwear can sometimes look contrived, but not here. The reason this look works is because of the difference in weight and texture of the materials.
The thin merino wool turtleneck has a smooth handle and slight sheen to it, while the thicker ribbed jacket brings the depth and interest. The contrast in both colour and texture is clear, and the overall silhouette isn’t too bulkly.
Pull off a look like this and you’ll instantly be crowned best dressed man in the office. Everyone else will have no choice but to bend the knee.
Preppy 2.0 Turtleneck
The turtleneck has long been associated with professors, lecturers and other academia, so why not lean into the fact with a preppy aesthetic? This look utilises classic Ivy League attire such as khaki pants, white rollneck and suede chukka boots but gives it a modern streetwear twist thanks to the branded varsity jacket and beanie combo.
It’s an outfit that deserves first class honours.
Rugged turtleneck outfit
A turtleneck is ultimately a functional piece of clothing, designed to keep the wearer warm. As such, it works effortlessly as part of a rugged look consisting of work boots, jeans and a motorcycle jacket.
Just ensure the turtleneck is on the chunkier side as thin-gauge merino examples are best complemented with smarter clothing.
Turtleneck with tailoring separates
Speaking of which, a lightweight roll neck rarely looks better than when worn with suit separates.
When attempting this look yourself, turn to unstructured tailoring – with soft shoulders and little to no chest padding – which will keep things from entering Wolf of Wall Street territory. Stick to complementary shades like brown, stone and taupe and you won’t go wrong.
Turtleneck with overcoat
This is a smart, sophisticated look that will see you from office to bar in style. Combining a roll neck with an overcoat is an easy way to look sharp, especially when you complete the outfit with tailored trousers and Chelsea boots.
Casual turtleneck outfit
Ideal for weekend walks, Sunday pub lunches or a winter first date, this look is relaxed without being sloppy.
We’d usually recommend a chunky roll neck worn with denim, but here the lightweight version makes its case as a versatile staple, perfectly pairing with a shearling jacket, jeans and work boots.
Colourful turtleneck outfit
The most versatile roll necks are those made from dark colours including navy, black or grey. If you want to mix things up though, try a pastel shade and go tonal.
Here, the light blue turtleneck complements the teal cardigan, both of which pop against the white jeans and black leather boots.
Tonal turtleneck outfit
Another way to nail tonal dressing is with varying shades of neutrals and browns. Less stark than combining blacks and greys, this look takes its inspiration from the 70s with its colour palette, although it’s updated via contemporary, slim-fit trousers and minimal sneakers.
Tailored turtleneck outfit
Why not try a roll neck with ‘Hollywood’ black tie? It gives a slightly louche feel and one that’s more relaxed than wearing a dress shirt and bow tie.
Go full-on Bond villain with a black turtleneck or inject a subtle bit of colour with a deep burgundy take, which is more playful and relaxed.
Turtleneck with suede jacket
Suede jackets can be tricky to pull off and are best styled as minimally as possible. Which is where the roll neck comes in.
Try tucking yours into pleated, tailored trousers and finish with a suede trucker for a look that’s streamlined and ideal for casual Fridays in the office.
Office-ready turtleneck outfit
Turtlenecks have plenty of formal potential. They work under pretty much any kind of suit, but also when combined with a camel overcoat, pleated trousers and suede loafers.
An alternative to the classic grey suit, shirt and tie, this look will keep you feeling sharp while ensuring you stand out from your inferiorly dressed colleagues.
Turtleneck with tracksuit
An unusual combination, sure, but one that has bags of 70s charm. Forget branded sports tracksuits, try going full ‘football casual’ and pair a cream turtleneck with a velour two-piece and canvas sneakers for a look that’s equal part The Business and Tony Soprano.
Minimal turtleneck outfit
Keep things as stripped back as possible by combining a dark navy or black roll neck with grey drawstring trousers and black sneakers.
This is an outfit that’s both comfortable and adaptable; smarten things up by throwing on an overcoat or keep it casual by leaving the roll neck as the outer layer.
Turtleneck with double-breasted tailoring
For something on the sharper end of the spectrum, a turtleneck worn with a double-breasted suit never fails to impress. While they can often make you feel overdressed, double-breasted tailoring is brought down a peg or two by your knitwear, keeping it from being too stuffy.
Monochrome turtleneck outfit
For the ultimate understated smart casual getup, try a black roll neck with a black overshirt, charcoal trousers and tonal sneakers. Smart yet laid back, this combination is ideal for times when you want to look well put together but still feel relaxed.
Ensure the cut of each piece is spot on and you can’t miss.