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The Essential Black Turtleneck

Essential in that every #WCW you’ve ever posted is wearing one and you should, too.

By: Chelsey Burnside

In every hypothetical house fire and if-you-could-only-wear-one-thing-for-the-rest-of-your-life scenario, there are those key pieces we can’t imagine going a week—let alone a lifetime—without. That perfect white tee you spent a quarter-century hunting for, that not-too-big, not-too-small button down that goes with everything you own, and—the latest addition to our roster of holy grails—the black turtleneck.

With proponents ranging from Phoebe Philo to Kim Kardashian to, yeah, Steve Jobs (can’t really write about this subject without at least mention of the man), it may be versatile, but all turtleneck outfits were not created equal. To keep us looking less bobble head and more Beyoncé-in-Countdown, we turned to a few purveyors of the polo-neck trend. Because under no—even hypothetical—circumstances are we leaving the house looking like the fifth member of the infamous Situation Family Photo. Or prepubescent JB. Or poor, poor JT.

J. Diddy broke the Internet, clad in face-masking shades and a ribbed black turtleneck for a Céline ad. The 80-year-old author and Vogue alum is the essence of age-transcendent fashion (and unintentional style-icon status at every age—you’ve seen Julian Wasser’s circa 1968 Corvette propped photos). Pair The Didion turtleneck with culottes, a carry-all tote and (of course) thick-framed sunglasses. Octogenarian DOB definitely not required.

 

Let's be serious, a face like Tilda’s needs no distractions. The turtleneck is the perfect neutral canvas for her elfin angles and lends her an otherworldly elegance tucked under a tailored jacket. Worn with an asymmetrical skirt, gold pendant and earth-toned accessories, an everyday top takes on a Paris Vogue-editorial vibe.

 

Not only do we hold her fully accountable for our daydreams of lash-grazing bangs and bags named after us, but Birkin is one of the many reasons we’re obsessed with the nubby-knit turtleneck. We’ve yet to find something it can’t be paired with, and it has that seamless, effortless look—like you pulled it out of the archives without a second thought. Wear it with the aforementioned eponymous tote and a whole lot of bottom-lash mascara.

 

Snapped at many a gallery opening in her signature top, Chung does the dressed-up turtleneck really, really well. Whether it’s tucked into a leather mini or under an A-line dress, the high neck manages to further elongate her already gazelle-like proportions. Some people.

 

We’ve pinned and mood-boarded the shot more than we care to admit. You know the one—Daria’s in oversized black cashmere, turtleneck pulled up over her chin, hair tucked in in that oh-so-effortless way we’ve tried to emulate, like, most mornings. But girl is also an off-duty turtleneck devotee, layered under a motorcycle jacket with ankle boots and a wool fedora. Just easy, ya know?

 

The Kardishi-klan epitomizes the 2015 turtleneck: second-skin tight and pulled up to just under the jawline—projecting all the focus onto bold lips, face-framing layers, and cheeks kontoured just so. The Kim K way is to keep your ‘neck on the sheer side with a black bra peeking out from underneath. What, you didn’t think she’d go full Sprocket, did you?

 

Spring's Best Street Style

As demonstrated by members of Team Cov

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