I’m trying to pinpoint precisely when I first wondered why more men don’t wear turtlenecks in 2018 and, subsequently, when I decided I should be the person to lead the crusade to correct this deficit. If I had to guess it was probably sometime around when I saw a photo of Armie Hammer sporting one under a suit at the Hollywood Film Awards earlier this month. His choice of top rocked my world like a see-saw in a hail storm, prickling the insides of my armpits with the electricity of human attraction (what? just me?). Armie Hammer is an objectively handsome person, but this was the first time I’ve looked at him and actually sighed.
According to The New York Post‘s poetic waxing on this very subject, “stylish guys are embracing [turtlenecks]” right and left these days. Cited examples include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Timothée Chalamet (who — like Armie — have both worn turtlenecks to red carpet events) and Jay-Z and Diddy (who paired them with tuxes at the Grammy Awards last January, prompting Vulture to jokingly crown turtlenecks the true winner of that particular ceremony). However, all of these recent turtleneck sightings involve fancy-pants events wherein literal fancy pants are worn and thus the turtlenecks in question aren’t just turtlenecks — they’re intentional style statements, devised by celebrity stylists to cement their clients’ status as “stylish guys.” They aren’t the stuff of off-duty errands. They’re special. They’re different. They’re noteworthy. Meanwhile, when I wear a turtleneck, it’s as unremarkable as burping after a swig of club soda.
Why is it noteworthy when a man wears a turtleneck, while for women they are to cold weather as T-shirts are to hot? They’re a winter staple for good reason: They’re functional and aesthetically versatile! A tried-and-true basic! Most importantly, in my personal (and therefore correct) opinion, they look smokin’ on everyone. They’re a gilded frame for the human form! A sensual embrace in fabric form! An unparalleled pedestal for necks worldwide! As evidenced by the stacks of them every woman I know breaks out in force come late autumn, women at large know this to be true. Men, on the other hand, seemingly have yet to catch on, and they are doing my eyes a disservice as a result.
I realize this is a generalization. Of course there are men who wear turtlenecks regularly. But they are the exception rather than the rule — wise and enlightened lobsters amidst a sea of regular fish. One such fish, my boyfriend Austin, told me over text that he doesn’t like wearing turtlenecks because, “They make me look like a 70s pimp.” I texted back that he, an accredited 2018 non-pimp, has the power to change this association. He said he was going to bed.
Another fish, my father, told me: “I like to wear them when I ski. If I wore them every day, my neck would get hot.” When I pressed him to confirm that he actually believed an extra two-three inches (depending on the turtle) of fabric would cause him to overheat unless he was engaging in a winter sport, he squinted at me quizzically like my head was a mung bean. When I asked him how he felt about turtlenecks from a purely aesthetic standpoint, he said, “I think I look good in a turtleneck.”
I also reached out to my friend Andrew, an enlightened lobster of note, and asked for his perspective on this topic as a frequent wearer of turtlenecks. “I am declaring from this point forward winter 2018 is all about that BTE (big turtleneck energy),” he wrote over email. “Why? Because have you seen a photo of Steve McQueen in a black turtleneck? If not then please Google right now. It’s the only justification you’ll ever need.” [Ed note: He’s right].
“I buy them in bulk from Uniqlo every fall (bless you, $39.90 merino) and wear them every week until April comes because I hate thinking about getting dressed in the morning,” he continued. “Practically speaking, too, turtlenecks are legitimately a scarf and sweater built into one. Your neck will never be cold. They also make your neck look longer (something I don’t have the luxury of attaining naturally) and give you the appearance of being aloof and vaguely European (which are all the things I aspire to be). I also think black turtlenecks in particular are timeless/the male clothing equivalent of a Chanel bag, so if you’re photographed wearing one, you won’t look dated or embarrassing in a photo 20 years down the line.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Like swimming naked or eating avocados mashed up on toast, basking in the glow of turtlenecks’ quotidian hotness (and I’m not just talking about temperature) is an objective pleasure every human being should experience in the modern age, which is why I can’t in good conscience stay quiet any longer. Kindly comment below to cosign.