Friday, December 9, 2011

The Turtle and the Neck

Audrey + turtleneck = perfection

What's this about turtlenecks being back in style? Would someone please tell me when they left? I thought the turtleneck (especially black) was a wardrobe staple. Come to think of it, I haven't actually worn a turtleneck for quite a few years, but I assumed that was because we now live in Texas, the land of "eternal summer" (it's barely making 60 now at high noon).

Suddenly the turtleneck has peeked out from its shell and is being worn by Those Who Know and shown by those who will influence our fashion choices in seasons to come. Designer Rachel Roy wore a sheer nude Stella McCartney turtleneck with a long black skirt to the CFDA awards and remarked that she "didn't always have to show a lot of skin, but what I do want to show all the time is a lot of brains. And the turtleneck is strong, elegant and smart."
Rachel Roy looking brainy

Why the appeal of the turtleneck? It puts the focus on your face. It creates a blank palette to show off a beautiful necklace or earrings. You can dress it up or dress it down. It feels good against your skin (if it's cashmere). And— yes— it whisks away a wrinkly neck.

The turtleneck harks back to the 19th century when it first appeared on college athletes' underwear. It was later co-opted by the military, adopted by beatniks in the '50s (as Audrey was trying to be in "Funny Face" pictured above) and replaced a shirt and tie under a man's suit jacket in the '60s. Pretty soon it was worn by everyone in the family and became as ubiquitous in winter as was the t-shirt in summer.

Leave it to today's designers to bring back the turtleneck with a little bite. Ikram Goldman, whose Chicago boutique is a Michelle Obama favorite, sees the turtleneck in a new light. "It hugs your body, your neck, your arms— it's like a mold. And that tightness on the neck is almost like bondage. What's not sexy about that?"

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