Consider the Turtleneck: The 35 Most Important Women in Turtlenecks


Consider the turtleneck: Is there any other item of clothing which manages to reveal so much even as it appears to hold everything back? A woman in a turtleneck is the ultimate power move, allowing her to show off everything that can’t really be seen, hiding while also in plain sight. It’s a sartorial signifier of restraint, and yet there’s an almost unspoken understanding that the whoever’s wearing it could unleash just about anything whenever she feels like it; after all, the bondage element here is self-imposed. And it is because of the inherent demure quality of a turtleneck that its sex appeal feels all the more perverse, more subversive. A woman in a turtleneck is in control of herself and everything around her. Also, the turtleneck is about as universally flattering as a garment can get, drawing the eye up up up to a woman’s face, as if it rests on a pedestal, only so that the eye can travel back down down down again. 

And so as we finally enter—finally! summer has felt endless!—turtleneck season, let’s celebrate the turtleneck by looking at some of its most iconic iterations over the last few decades.

Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby
  1. Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby or: Why you should never wear necklaces with turtlenecks.

2) Rihanna, or: Why you should always wear necklaces with turtlenecks.


Linda Evangelista in George Michael's video for "Freedom"

3) Linda Evangelista, or: When turtlenecks mean freedom. Or “freedom.”

Jada Pinkett Smith, on her wedding day

4) Jada Pinkett Smith, or: When turtlenecks mean the opposite of freedom.

Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years (CREDIT: ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES)

5) Winnie Cooper, or: When turtlenecks mean innocence.

Angela Chase in My So-Called Life

6) Angela Chase, or: When turtlenecks mean leaving innocence behind.

Marilyn Monroe

7) Marilyn Monroe, or: Why turtlenecks look good on blondes.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onnasis

8) Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or: Why turtlenecks look good on brunettes.

Shania Twain

9) Shania Twain, or: Why turtlenecks work on every occasion.

Shania Twain not in a turtleneck

10) Shania Twain, or: Why turtlenecks are the best even when they’re not really turtlenecks.

Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

11) Meg Ryan, in When Harry Met Sally, or: When turtlenecks are good in romantic-comedies.

Ali McGraw in Love Story

12) Ali McGraw, in Love Story, or: When turtlenecks are good in romantic-tragedies. (Side note: Rom-tradges? How is that not a thing? I guess because it sounds awful. Anyway.)

Audrey Hepburn

13) Audrey Hepburn, or: Why turtlenecks are the best thing to show off your “funny face.”

Brigitte Bardot

14) Brigitte Bardot, or: Why turtlenecks are the best thing to show off your serious face.

Janet Jackson

15) Janet Jackson, or: When turtlenecks meets the crop top.

Jane Fonda

16) Jane Fonda in Klute, or: When the turtleneck meets the trench coat.

Mandy Moore (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

17) Mandy Moore, or: When turtlenecks make you look like a piece of candy.

Queen Britney

18) Britney Spears, or: When turtlenecks make you look like a queen.

Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City

19) Miranda Hobbes, or: When turtlenecks make you look like a boss.


20) Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, or: When turtlenecks go pink.


21) Kim Kardashian, or: When turtlenecks go very pink.


22) Françoise Hardy, or: Why turtlenecks are another thing French women wear really, really well.


23) Charlotte Rampling, or: No, really. French women should always wear turtlenecks.


24) Hilary Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or: When turtlenecks are part of the joke.


25) Velma from Scooby Doo, or: When turtlenecks are the whole joke.


26) Lauren Bacall, or: When turtlenecks are the 40s.


27) Twiggy, or: When turtlenecks are the 60s.


28) Kate Moss, or: When turtlenecks are the 90s.

Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give

29) Diane Keaton, or: When turtlenecks are your 60s.

Diane Keaton in The Godfather

30) Diane Keaton, or: When turtlenecks were also your 30s.


31) Quinn in Daria, or: When turtlenecks go goth.

A literal angel

32) Britney Spears, or: When turtlenecks go pure.

Katherine Waterston in Queen of Earth

33) Katherine Waterston in Queen of Earth, or: When turtlenecks are the best workout wear of all time.


34) Rihanna: Why black turtlenecks are everything.


35) Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct: Why white turtlenecks are everything.

Literally everything. c/o

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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