30 Sep 2017

The Turtleneck: What To Wear When All Else Fails

When All else Fails: The Turtleneck on vickiarcher.com

Current mood + end of summer = turtleneck time.

Seeing this series of photographs of Annette Bening reinforced to me not only the beauty of the black turtleneck but also how well this black sweater and black pants look together. Combine the all black with a dash of red lipstick, some great frames and you are done.

This type of look may not be the most inventive and may not appeal to the more boho side of our natures but I am pretty sure this works for most women and is an easy one to carry off. Even if you love colour and 99% of your wardrobe is a fiesta, there is always room for a monochrome day.

I won’t argue this is original and different – all black and a red lip is far from unique. But it does work for me and more importantly it is a style we can feel comfortable and confident in.

When All else Fails: The Turtleneck on vickiarcher.com

The clever side of personal style is knowing when and how to implement it. Playing it safe has its advantages.

There is nothing dull or boring about looking classic, well put together and elegant. Trying too hard to find a signature style can be as damming as playing by the rules.

Sometimes working with the tried and proven is a bonus.

Annette Bening looks wonderful in all black. Yes, she is a very handsome woman, but it was the simplicity of her outfit that drew my attention. Of all her published photographs, I think these are truly wonderful.

The turtleneck has been my best pal for a long time and I must refresh this sweater and get it working.

When All else Fails: The Turtleneck on vickiarcher.comWhen All else Fails: The Turtleneck on vickiarcher.com

































You know what else I love about a black pair of pants and a turtleneck sweater?

They are forgiving. So forgiving.

After months of travel and not being as disciplined as I might I can appreciate the generosity black offers. Forgiving and flattering; that is what I would say about the sweater and pants combination in black.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. xv

When All Else Fails

all sorts

eileen fisher merino turtleneck  ||  vince wool turtleneck  ||  vince stretch turtleneck  || madewell cotton turtleneck  ||  cashmere turtleneck

lafayette stretch jersey  ||  eileen fisher scrunch neck  ||  everlane rib turtleneck

don’t leave home without

dior rouge dior 999  ||  nic + zoe perfect ankle pants  ||  warby parker percy reading glasses  ||  eyebobs tv party reading glasses

images annette bening, jon rou/loyola marymount university

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In This Post:



Anita Rivera

THIS is my go-to class every time. I’m lucky that I only work during the school months because our climate here requires warm clothing, and what better way to be stylish and chic than in a turtleneck?

Annette B. is timeless.

Mimi Gregor

Far from being “boring” and “uninspired”, I find that in this day of women schlepping around in yoga pants and t-shirts, the ensemble of all black turtleneck, slim pants, ballet flats… and red lips is a wonderful, chic look for both at home and for running errands. One can be well-dressed as well as comfortable. I think that when most women say they want to be “comfortable”, what they mean is that they don’t want to stand out… they want to look just like everybody else. And since “everybody else” dresses sloppily… well, there you have what I call “the casualization of America.” Needless to say, this is a pet peeve of mine. I think that it shows not only disrespect for others (“You’re not important enough for me to dress up for”) but also a disrespect for oneself (I’m not important enough for me to dress up for.)

*Descends from soapbox*

Beth Anderson

I am a thin person and I still look like a pumpkin head with turtlenecks. I like how they look on other people but I can’t do them myself. Maybe I’ll find one that works. I’ll start with the Everlane and see how it goes… thank you for posting.


Annette Bening owns her entire being. What a gal! By not wearing a necklace she has kept the focus on her face. The simplicity of a turtleneck and pants in a monochrome palette is classic and elegant. One can go anywhere at any time and look wonderful.


Excellent advice! Black is a staple in my wardrobe. Switch out the black turtleneck for a crisp white blouse in the spring and summer and you are good to go. ‘-)


A black ribbed and a cashmere turtleneck are staples in my closet. I feel dressed and chic in head to toe black. Throw on a smashing jacket and it’ll take you anywhere. I like mine on the fitted side, as I’m tall & slim. My girlfriend likes hers more loose as she is busty. She wears a long necklace to add height to her shorter stature. It’s a matter of finding the style that suits your body type.


Totally agree with the advice in this post but I would add along with the lipstick, a good mascara, & groomed ( tinted if needed brows).


This is an excellent post and a great reminder that sometimes simplicity makes the most beautiful statement.


I LOVE this classic look and have myriad of different black pants & turtle neck options in my wardrobe – it is definitely my go-to look. Mimi, I’m with you on your soap box. It made my heart sing to read your comments and know someone else feels exactly the same as I do about this “overly casual” world we are living in. When did it become ok to wear your pajamas to the supermarket? I wish I was joking!


Great admirer of Annette B (she was fabulous in “The American President” – just saw it again the other night on Foxtel) but I don’t think the black turtle neck is flattering for women once our jawlines are no longer crisp (particularly pic 2). Well done that she accepts her jaw as it is -and doesn’t have facial surgery. But sadly the strong black neckline just under it does frame and highlight the sags. She would look better with a pullover that ends at the base of the throat or a little lower. Black or whatever colour.
I don’t dislike black and do wear it sometimes – but the problem is it’s the go-to colour for so many women of a certain age – and even for the 20-30s group. In my last few years at work before I retired I used to call it the Mediterranean Widows Club. As I walked from the carpark so many women walking ahead of me were dressed almost uniformly in black. It was utterly depressing to see most of the younger women all in black too. I mostly wore colours, often quite bright and the senior people I usually had to deal with would comment on how it brightened their day and made them feel happier just to see someone wearing beautiful colours.
Best wishes, Pamela


Pamela, great comment. I agree, no turtleck at certain age. It just underlines unwanted details ­čśë
And let’s wear colors. We should avoid black. Colors make us look happy ­čÖé


Thank you!
I realised once it was sent… all too late sadly and my appalling spelling was seen by all :)


Love a black turtle and slim pants….very versatile. Can be dressy with the right shoes and earrings…or casual for daily round town stuff. And, price wise the turtleneck can be found from super luxe …for instance a White + Warren cashmere…or more reasonable with one from Loft or Gap. It all works!!! I’m a brunette and sometimes I think I need a bit more of a pop of color but the right lip stick could do it! Thanks for a fun column on such a sad, gloomy day.


What a fabulous classic look this is. And what a lovely woman Annette is.

Remember all those photos of our young gorgeous selves when we thought we weren’t skinny enough or had bad hair? ;) A few years from now we’ll look at this year’s Facebook pix of ourselves and wonder why we weren’t satisfied with our current jawline and brow and posture.

Loving ourselves and prizing our good fortune is so worth the effort it sometimes takes. :)


Ann ~ What a lovely remark ! “Loving ourselves and prizing our good fortune”. I will remember this every time I reach for my black pants and turtleneck *


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