You know, I always buy turtlenecks for fall, and for winter of course. But I somehow never think of turtlenecks for spring.

Which is odd since I’ve had a love affair with turtlenecks most of my life. In fact, I wore a turtleneck on my first date ever, with my best friend’s hunky older brother on whom I’d had a crush for months. For this momentous occasion, I needed a monumentally cool outfit. I wore a lovely, baby-blue turtleneck, perfectly faded jeans, and a black corduroy blazer, and I thought I looked smashing. Until I spilled coke all down the front of my sweater at the movies. I was so nervous I’d do something stupid that, of course… I did. Gad. Who’d be a teenager again, eh?

I started thinking of wearing turtlenecks for spring when I read this post on Preston Davis’ blog Keep It Chic in March. “Why not?” I thought, “A short-sleeve turtleneck with sneakers and a spring coat is a great transitional outfit.” And then when I was doing my spring shopping research, trawling through fashion magazines, I encountered a sharp suit by Louis Vuitton paired with a sleek, white turtleneck. And last week when I was at Nordstrom, I saw a beautiful, silky, spring turtleneck by St. John. It was gorgeous, if somewhat out of my price range. Turtlenecks for spring are a thing. And apparently I was the last one to know.

woman smiling in navy Max Mara suit, cream crocheted sweater, cream spring turtleneck by Theory, and white Stan Smith Adidas sneakers
Feeling spiffy and warm in my layered-up spring look.

Which brings me to yesterday when I made a small start on turning my closet. This is what my friend Margaret calls the twice yearly rotation of half my wardrobe from storage to my tiny closet, and back again. But more on that in another post. Anyway, I pulled out my refurbished navy Max Mara pantsuit, and my cream, crocheted, cotton sweater from Theory which I bought last spring. I thought that I might try a lightweight cream turtleneck, also from Theory, under the cream sweater. And it transpired that I love the two cream sweaters together, and they are not at all bulky under the Max Mara jacket. Wearing a turtleneck with a spring coat or suit could be the perfect transitional outfit. For those days when, even though it’s spring, it’s still too cold for tee shirts.

woman smiling in navy Max Mara suit, cream crocheted sweater, cream spring turtleneck by Theory, and white Stan Smith Adidas sneakers
Max Mara suit, Theory crocheted sweater, Theory cotton turtleneck, Stan Smith Adidas

I wore my suit and cream sweater combo with a vintage cream art deco brooch that I’ve had for years, and my Stan Smith Adidas. I guess wearing a suit with sneakers is kind of de rigueur now. Especially since Dame Emma Thompson wore her Stella McCartney suit with trainers to Buckingham Palace last year to meet the queen. According to this source she “laughed off criticism of her break with protocol” by joking “they were posh trainers.” I love her, don’t you?

woman sitting on red deck furniture, wearing a navy Max Mara suit, cream Theory spring turtleneck sweater, and white Stan Smith Adidas sneakers.
Warm enough today for pictures on the deck.

It was warm enough yesterday to take some shots outside on the deck. Hubby and I had just moved the deck furniture out of the garden shed. Not because we’ll be sitting on it for a while, but because he needs the space to store the snow-blower. It’s always a good sign when we pack the snow-blower away, people.

Life on the river is busy this time of year. Hubby is glued to his binoculars. A flock of hooded mergansers came through the other day and caused quite a stir. And yesterday a very squawky Canada goose that somehow was left behind by his friends swooped low over my head while I was taking pictures. Sitting in the flight path of Canada geese is not always a wise move. Ha. So I decamped indoors to take off my good clothes, don my sweats, and head out for my walk.

woman sitting on red deck furniture laughing, wearing a navy Max Mara suit, cream Theory sweaters, and white Stan Smith Adidas sneakers.
I do believe a large, squawking bird just swept by me.

It’s hard to find a good layering turtleneck to wear this time of year. One that’s lightweight enough that it doesn’t look like a fall or winter sweater, and sleek enough to slip under a light jacket, or even under a spring sweater. I looked around on-line this afternoon and found this sleeveless mock turtleneck from Nordstrom, this light-weight, skinny-knit turtleneck at Aritzia, and this one with elbow-length sleeves on Amazon. This silk and cashmere Theory sweater at Nordstrom looks lovely, but is a bit more pricey than the others. I haven’t tried any of these myself, but I think I’d like the fit of any of them under a jacket.

You know, I’ve written a few times on the blog about my love of turtlenecks. It always makes me laugh that I love them so much when, over the years, they have not always loved me back. Mostly that’s to do with the fact that I have a very large head. See what I mean? That’s me at age two below, with my older sisters, my brother, and my cousin Robert in the bow tie. Robert and I are the same age. Actually he’s not really my cousin, but I’ve told you that story before.

1958. Me my cousin and my older sisters and brother sitting on the sofa at my grandmother's house.
That is one big-headed kid. Me, age two, with my cousin and siblings.

Anyway, when I was a child, my grandmother Burpee bought me lovely outfits at a chi-chi children’s store in Fredericton. I remember one grey, woolen jumper (or tunic) with red trim and a matching red turtleneck. After trying to shoe-horn my head into the neck of the sweater, having it stick somewhere halfway, and almost smothering me, my mum had to cut the neck of the sweater up the back and sew in snaps. Only then would it fit over my head. Sigh. Fashion can be painful.

Even more painful in high school when, changing after gym class, I hurriedly jammed my head into my favourite chocolate brown turtleneck and pulled a muscle in my neck when it snapped sideways. Other people have athletic injuries. I have fashion injuries. Ha.

Actually I may have told you this story before too. Goodness… I’m beginning to repeat myself. Maybe all the turtlenecks I’ve been wearing are beginning to cut off blood supply to my brain? What do you think?

Okay, enough silliness.

How do you feel, my fashionable friends, about wearing turtlenecks for spring? Are you so sick of them you pack them all away? Or do you incorporate them into your transitional outfits, to wear when, even though it’s spring, it’s still too cold for tee shirts?

And if you have any suggestions for good, light-weight turtlenecks, that will slip easily under a jacket or sweater… please let us know.

P.S. If you purchase an item after clicking on one of my affiliate links, I will earn a commission.

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38 thoughts on “Turtlenecks for Spring”

  1. I can’t wear turtlenecks at any time of year. I have a large head, too, but also a very thick neck. Fortunately, I live in southern California, so don’t need the warmth. I try to wear collared shirts in the transitional seasons.

  2. I lived in black turtle necks in my beatnik phase , over 50 years ago ?but I had a neat little neck then . My sisters & I now have what my niece calls ‘ chinecks ‘ & turtle necks don’t do us any favours . So instead I like a soft loose turtle neck or preferably a soft cowl neck . However , we are enjoying a little Easter heatwave here & the woolies have been put to one side . I always think that dogs with big wide heads are very clever , unlike our pea headed Lurchers which are rather dim – not much room for a brain . So on that basis you must be really clever .
    PS Those ducks are spectacular . Birdwatcher husband is jealous .

    1. Wow… is an Easter heatwave unusual in Yorkshire? Not sure about he big head big brain thing. More room to store meaningless trivia like what I wore to every occasion since I was six. And what all my friends wore too. Ha.
      We usually see mergansers when we’re in Algonquin Park, but it’s a big deal when we get them on the river right outside our house in the spring.

  3. When I was younger I had a massive chest frontage so turtle necks just made me look ridiculous and accentuated everything I wanted to hide. These days I have accepted that they are not for me but do like a looser version for cooler months. I bought one this year and it has been put away and then come out again over the last month or so…ready to be put away for good this week. I look at my tall daughter in a turtle neck and think how good it looks. My son, as a baby, had a huge head, I always seemed to be squeezing stuff over his bonce and I never bothered him with a hat after the age of about four months. I do rather like a big headed baby.

    1. Ha. You have such a was with words, Annie. Massive chest frontage… made me laugh. When we opened up Mum’s cedar chest where she stored all our clothes many from our childhood, I was not surprised that my childhood bonnets still fit me. That was good for a laugh, I can tell you.

  4. My signature look used to be a black turtleneck and good jeans with a great leather belt and equally great boots with a bit of a heel. Then it got so I stopped tucking things into my jeans! Then my turkey / double neck decided that turtlenecks were not a good look for me, and I couldn’t stand wearing anything tight around my neck (oh god, I’m turning into my mother!) I wish you luck finding the perfect lightweight turtleneck for spring. Congratulations on putting away the snowblower! Happy Easter! -Jenn

    1. Thanks, Jenn. We all turn into our mothers (or our grandmothers) in some ways, don’t we? Me…every time I fold my hands up under by boobs, I know I look just like my grandmother Sullivan.

  5. Beverley in Canada

    I love the modern look of a turtleneck. And it looks nice on me. (I’m a small person.) But, oh, how it turns me into a little blast furnace! Even at turning 62. Sigh.

    This slow Spring, I’ve tried to capture the look by wearing a 3/4 length sleeve boatneck tee, with a little silk scarf tied neatly at the neck. If heat builds, it’s easy to loosen. Hopefully, I look jaunty. ?

    1. A scarf is better in some cased isn’t it? Especially if you change your mind about something around your neck. I’m trying to grow more patience with scarves. But I hate fussing with them, which I always do.

  6. When the subject of turtlenecks comes up, I always think of Nora Ephron (I Feel Bad About my Neck…book). I do have a few myself because I hate a draught down the back of my neck and, like Nora, I feel bad about my neck, too. A couple of years ago in London, I picked up two really soft, lightweight turtleneck tunics, one in pale grey and another in cream (Modern Rarity line in John Lewis). This past January, also at John Lewis, I picked up a 100% organic cotton black tunic by Armadangels (German Fair & Eco fashion co.). Somewhat of a mock turtleneck, slightly longer in the back than the front. A great piece to wear on long haul flights, especially in winter, but even practical during the shoulder seasons.

    1. Oh… I was talking about how I hate my neck the other day when I was shopping. I was trying on a lovely peasant-ish blouse that was too droopy, and too low on my not very nice neck. We are not spoiled for shopping choices in Ottawa these days. I miss Holt Renfrew and Eaton’s, both quality Canadian department stores which used to be here but now aren’t.

  7. Happy Easter Sue,
    Love turtlenecks…especially in the winter. I have a black sleeveless one that now I’ll reconsider. This may be the perfect weekend to wear it. When I wear a turtleneck I change my wavy hair. Up it goes….too much bulk at the neck.
    We have the patio furniture out on the deck too. Such a nice feeling.

  8. Your Max Mara suit looks great and you as well
    I love turtlenecks all year round and used to wear them a lot in summer,too (silk and/or viscose,sleeveles,perfect under linen suits….)
    Recently,they are only autumn/winter/spring uniform

  9. Turtlenecks are part of my uniform. I think this started in high school in the 60s and thankfully has continued to…well I’m wearing one right now. I think I loved the mystery of the black turtleneck initially. I have branched into navy, camel and cream though. Since I saw Jennifer Anniston in a bright yellow turtle on an old episode of Friends, I been on a quest for the same. She even donned a fuzzy knit sleeveless turtle on another episode. When you’re a turtle addict you noticed these things! So Sue, I’m going to check out all of your leads asap.

    1. Ha. I pay attention to what characters are wearing on certain shows too. I used to love Scott and Bailey for the clothes as well as the plot.

    1. I just checked out your link. I remember my sisters wearing those ribbed sweaters, we called them poor-boy sweaters. I found a lime green one that was a turtleneck and a body suit at a vintage show in the nineties. It was from the mid sixties and I wore it for years.

  10. Once upon a time I used to live in black turtle necks but now I have one very nice cashmere turtle neck that I bring out when I am really cold. You always look fabulous in yours and they definitely suit you but I just feel claustrophobic in them now.

    1. It seems that you are not alone, Christy. In fact I’m beginning to think I’m in the minority among women our age in my turtleneck love.

  11. I live in turtlenecks from November to May – if my neck is warm I’m warm – for years! I found a picture of me in the 70’s in my turtle neck and little plaid skirt and I’m still wearing them in my very late 60’s. I was a teacher and can’t deal with scarves; they always ended up in a student’s face or a pot of paint when I leaned over to help. Lands End has some great light turtlenecks in a blend to layer under other sweaters for spring days when it goes from winter in the morning to summer in the afternoon. Cheers for turtlenecks!

    1. I always have trouble with scarves in a restaurant… they dangle in my plate when I’m bending over to sit down. You can’t take me anywhere that is not potentially embarrassing. Ha.

  12. You look smashing in this outfit Sue! I love turtlenecks both for warmth and for hiding my neck ?. Used to have silk ones for layering (from Land’s End or L.L.Bean, I think) when we lived in North America years ago. Now we live in Israel so the season for turtlenecks is much shorter, but I may get away with neck scarves for a while longer.

    1. Oh… I love them for hiding my neck as well. And for the same reason hate anything low cut. I can imagine the season for T-necks is much shorter in Israel than in Canada:)

  13. Turtlenecks emphasize my jowls – my neck is actually holding up better. I did used to love them – but now use the ones I have left as an underlayer in winter, beneath a high (but looser) necked sweater.
    Cowls or softer, lower T-necks can still work if the color contrast is minimal or medium against my skin.
    I’m admiring how they look on you though!

  14. Gitte F. Olsen

    I have always had a love affair with turkeyneck sweaters. Every chance I get I wear them. I pair them sometimes with a statement necklace. Other times with a scarf and a blazer. I live in Southern California but have bought some light weight turtlenecks to be worn on cooler evening.

    P.S. Love sneakers and flats as well. My days of the high heel little strapped scandal are in the past.

    1. Love a turtleneck and a simple blazer with jeans. My go to outfit for decades. And I used to wear heels with that but now it’s sneakers all the way:)

  15. Jeans and a turtleneck is my ” go to ” outfit for any time of the year when it’s below 20C ( and sometimes even when it’s a bit warmer ). Simple, no fuss clothing that looks cool and is comfortable in the not so warm weather ( and Arctic air conditioned offices ! ).

    It’s late autumn here and the neck warmers have indeed come out of summer storage.

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