If you’re going on first dates on a semi-regular basis, first of all, I’m so sorry. Second of all, I’m going to assume that, like me, you have a go-to first-date outfit — one that’s no-fuss, that you feel good in, and that has proven successful in the past.
In the winter months, I wear turtlenecks on first dates. Specifically, a tight, black Uniqlo heattech turtleneck, which I tuck into a pair of high-waisted jeans, cinch with a belt, and throw a blazer over.
When I tell people that I wear turtlenecks on first dates, they think I’m joking. “Isn’t that what you wear to a job interview?” one co-worker asked of the aforementioned outfit. Yes, exactly! A first date is a job interview. And my first-date turtleneck does all the work.
On a basic level, turtlenecks are comfortable — an important quality in a first-date outfit. They’re soft and clingy and warm, and they keep you snug emotionally, too. Like Victoria Beckham, you can burrow your face in a tall turtleneck collar when going out in public feels daunting. Or, in emergencies, when a date has bad breath. They’re the ideal garment for introverts, germophobes, and those like the late, great Nora Ephron, who feel bad about their necks.
New York Fashion Week proved just how versatile turtlenecks can be. Styles can range from the see-through “peek-a-boo turt” (Eckhaus Latta), to the thong bodysuit “horny turt” (Laquan Smith), to the minimalist “eyes-up-here” turt (the Row). You can layer them, they come in every color, and they go with everything. But you knew all this. What you don’t know, or perhaps choose not to recognize, is that turtlenecks are actually flattering.
Black turtlenecks in particular are slimming and sophisticated. Just look at some of the most stylish and sophisticated black turtleneck–wearing people in history: Audrey Hepburn! Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis! Phoebe Philo! You’re lying if you say you weren’t even slightly attracted to Steve Jobs. And I can say with absolute certainty that Drake wears turtlenecks on first dates.
In addition to making you look like you’ve either invented an app or read some Foucault, turtlenecks also put your God-given attributes on display. They’re the sartorial equivalent of the iPhone “portrait” feature, in that everything but your head goes out of focus when you put one on. When I see a woman wearing a turtleneck, I think to myself: Wow, she is one smart lady, and she has a nice face.
“All I want men to think is ‘face,’ not ‘boobs,’” says Allison Davis, my turtleneck compatriot at the Cut, who I can confirm is both a smart lady, and has a nice face.
The Cut staff is stacked with experts of the first-date turt variety. “Turtlenecks are the best date tops because you can go straight from work to dinner or drinks,” says Madeleine Aggeler. “They automatically make you look more put together, and they’re generally pretty flattering. Also I think they make my boobs look bigger.” Turtlenecks: they can do both.
“I’m convinced my summer turt bodysuit is the sexiest thing in my closet,” says Sarah Spellings, a third Cut staffer who is so committed to turtlenecks, she wears them year-round and in a way that makes it very hard for her to use the bathroom. She is also in a committed relationship.
Personally, my most poignant first-date turtleneck moment happened a few weeks ago, when a man who had known me for under 30 minutes said that my turtleneck seemed to “fit my personality.” This is all I’ve ever wanted from my first-date turtleneck: to be seen exactly for who I am.
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