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Against Turtlenecks

Photo: Valeriia Sviridova/Getty Images/EyeEm

Have you felt it yet this year? A sudden vulnerability just below your chin that makes you think, Hmm, if only my shirt went up a little higher? A nagging little buzz in your ear, telling you to buy seven colors of the same cold-weather garment? Turtleneck season has once again reached a fever pitch, and it’s time I got something off my chest. Turtlenecks are not that great.

Saying you dislike turtlenecks is a lot like saying you dislike soup (which, I might as well tell you now, I also despise). People worship at their cozy altars as if they will deliver us from all the ails of winter. Many people (this publication chief among them) would have you think wearing turtlenecks is akin to breathing. They urge you to fill your homes with long-necked shirts. Every winter, they say, “Hallelujah! We can finally swaddle our necks in wool and HeatTech.” Well, apologies to my colleagues, but enough.

Here’s the thing: Turtlenecks are oppressive. They are like a hot, stuffy bra for your neck. Personally, I am the owner of a handful of turtlenecks, which I do wear on a semi-consistent basis. But I cannot begin to express the sigh of relief that escapes me when I peel off these shirts at the end of the day and release my neck from its fabric prison. Your neck deserves to be adorned with jewels, not smothered in cable-knit cashmere, as luxurious as that may seem. Let her be free.

But, you might be saying, my neck gets cold. Have you tried scarves? Scarves are delightful. Sometimes they have a fun little fringe. They’re wildly easy to knit. They can be cable-knit cashmere too, if you like that. Most importantly, a scarf is something you can remove when you enter a heated space and no longer need your neck encased in fabric. I bet you are tugging on the neck of your turtleneck right now, wishing you could take it off until you’re colder again. If your turtleneck was a scarf, you could!

Aside from having a cute name, I think the allure of the turtleneck really comes down to its cultural significance, which is rapidly deteriorating. Sure, it used to be that you could use these things to suggest you possessed a desirable personality trait, like chicness or ingenuity. No longer. Now, the most indelible mark the turtleneck has made on society is “scam,” which is a pretty bad message to send if you ask me.

In case you’re feeling defensive about your turtleneck habits, know that I’m not here to judge — just to liberate. If you want to cover your neck, cover your neck! But if you’re ever facing down a Uniqlo cart loaded with turtlenecks of all hues and weights, know that you can close that tab. Your neck will thank you.

Against Turtlenecks