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What’s the Best Black Turtleneck?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

That “perfect” black turtleneck is different for everyone. There are the traditionalists, who worship only the most perfectly fitted ones (à la You’ve Got Mail’s Kathleen Kelly), while nonconformists are on a quest for Quinn from Daria’s cropped beatnik cosplay. Variety makes The One so much harder to find. So we did the hard work for you, putting together a panel of opinionated turtleneck obsessives — including stylists, jewelry designers, boutique owners, and several of our own Strategist staffers — to find the best black turtlenecks. (Hint: Lots of Heattech was involved.) There’s something for everyone— from the fitted to the oversize, with some cutouts along the way. And although we’re focused on black turtlenecks, we’ve noted which options are available in other colors.

Best overall turtleneck

When we polled our panel, this was the single most mentioned turtleneck. (The Uniqlo Heattech vote was split among several versions.) Many of the women we spoke to had the same opinion as Strategist writer Chloe Anello, who calls J.Crew’s Tissue T-neck the “only black turtleneck worth buying.” Anello adds that she has “cheated on it before” — with ones from Madewell, Theory, and Rag & Bone, to name a few. But none “hold a candle to the Tissue Turtleneck.”

Like Anello, Dominique Porter, founder of sleepwear line the Glad Hours, has been wearing the turtleneck since she was a teen. “I had uniforms in school, and we were allowed to layer turtlenecks underneath our uniform, so it was just the turtleneck that everyone had,” Porter says. “Old habits die hard.” Imane Fiocchi, owner of Neon Lace Company, currently has around 20 turtlenecks in her closet and has been buying this one in bulk for years. She likes that the tissue-thin turtleneck is just ever so slightly sheer.

The founder of the Brooklyn-based jewelry studio Catbird, Rony Vardi, hates layering — “it makes me feel like a squished sausage” — but this turtleneck is the only exception to that rule. The turtleneck fits just like a T-shirt — she even pairs it underneath past-their-prime vintage tees. She recently skied for the first time in a decade with this turtleneck (underneath a sweater). “It’s cotton, which works well when you’re going from the cold outdoors to the overheated indoors,” she said. It comes in 17 other colors — the most of any turtlenecks on our list — including “warm taupe” and “burnished barn.”

Best fitted turtleneck

“I have words,” is how illustrator and Quartz art director Alexandra Citrin-Safadi started our correspondence about this turtleneck, boasting that she owns four of them at the moment. It’s “the black turtleneck you’ll want (demand!) to be buried in,” she says. Citrin-Safadi prefers her turtlenecks to feel thick rather than tissue-thin: “Picture the kind of turtleneck that toddlers hate being stuffed into.” Kotn’s Fitted Turtleneck is “thick and soft without feeling dowdy” with a neck that doesn’t “wilt,” as she describes it. And on her five-foot-four frame, the turtleneck isn’t “cropped per se, but it does happen to hit at the perfect spot.” The turtleneck stands up so well against “a whole winter’s worth of washing” that she just keeps adding more to her collection. It has even replaced her former favorite (the Everlane Micro Rib, below). She adds, “Physically, it feels like a hug. Mentally, it feels like I have my shit together.” You can choose among four other colors, including “dijon” and “seaglass.”

Best oversize turtleneck

Fitted turtlenecks tended to be the most popular among our stylish women. But Everlane’s is just the opposite: very much oversize. This turtleneck checks off all the boxes for Joyce Lee, founder of lifestyle brand Her Place: a cropped cut and a straight silhouette that’s decidedly not as close to the body as most of the others on our list. She appreciates the “in-between neck height,” which shows a hint more neck than a true turtleneck would. It has become her go-to fall-slash-winter top that she constantly travels with, especially since the cashmere keeps her feeling cuddled up. It’s available in five other shades, including camel, espresso, and a color called “sand dune.”

Best stretchy turtlenecks

“Soft, sensuous, stretchy” is how Lucy Weisner, co-founder of avant-garde shop Café Forgot, describes this turtleneck. It has exposed seams all along the arms, cuffs, hem, and torso. The torso seaming even creates a trompe l’oeil of an hourglass. It’s made mostly from cotton but also with some elastane, and that stretch makes it more comfortable, Weisner points out. She turns to Baserange for her basics and says the brand’s pieces are generally long-lasting. The turtleneck comes in off-white, too.

[Editor’s note: Baserange lists its prices in euros, so the price reflected is an approximation in U.S. dollars.]

Suann Song, founder of paper-product company Appointed, was gifted this turtleneck by two of her closest friends. It’s equally as thin, soft, and smooth as the Tissue Turtleneck, with just a little more stretch. But it’s the back that makes this turtleneck a true standout — a white piped line runs straight through the spine. Because of the piping, Song usually doesn’t layer it to show the detail off. This turtleneck is also available in cream.

Best ribbed turtleneck

Four women alerted us to this turtleneck. It has barely-there ribbing that makes it subtler than other traditional turtlenecks. Strategist kitchen-and-dining writer Emma Wartzman describes the fit as “tight enough that it doesn’t bunch up underneath things (it really hugs your skin) but not, like, Uniqlo Heattech-tight.” Style coach Kim Hancher echoes that, saying, “It’s so soft that it feels like a second skin.” And most importantly, she notes, the neck actually stays up throughout the day. “​​I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I buy one of those Everlane turtlenecks each season, just because I know I’ll get so much use out of them,” says Gabrielle Arruda, a fashion designer who also runs her own namesake style blog. Song bought it on a whim, and now it’s a basic she can rely on. The turtleneck comes in seven other shades, including “burnt sugar” and “heather grey.”

Best (less expensive) ribbed turtleneck

Two stylish women mentioned Uniqlo’s extra-fine merino turtlenecks. Leigh Plessner, creative director at Catbird, likes to tuck her turtlenecks under antique slip dresses and nightgowns so they have to be smoothing and stay in place. Her recommendation does just that. The sleeves are the right length “to show just a bit of wrist and bracelet,” Plessner tells us. And even through countless wears (“with heavy spritzings of rose water in between”), it has held up. The sweater also comes in 13 other shades. Christiana Greene, owner and curator of Bum-Cake Vintage, actually prefers this sweater sans the ribbing. It has been her tried-and-true for the past three winters.

Best turtleneck for layering


Porter likes that this turtleneck is lightweight enough to layer easily. But it’s also detailed enough (because of the ribbed hem band on the body of it) that you’ll want to show it off on its own. She feels particularly polished when she wears it, even when it’s dressed down with a pair of jeans or dressed up underneath a blazer. And if you’re looking for a deep-black turtleneck, Porter tells us, this turtleneck has a rich, inklike hue.

Best fleece turtleneck

J.Crew won the top spot, but we heard about Uniqlo Heattech a lot — many of the women we talked to own some form of it. Michaela Rechtschaffner, the owner of, and one-woman knitter behind, Pearle Knits, counts one (now sold out) Heattech turtleneck tee as her ol’ faithful. Sade Mims, head designer of luxury-accessory line EDAS, is another member of the Heattech club, styling her turtlenecks much like the singer with whom she shares her first name — with gold hoop earrings and a glossed lip. Founder of her own eponymous-luxury headband-and-jewelry label Jennifer Behr goes for glamour with her Heattech, pairing it with dramatic fringed crystal earrings.

But much of the Heattech we heard about was some variation of the T-shirt turtleneck mentioned just above. This fleece Heattech stood out for its practicality — it’s the perfect winter-wardrobe piece (that’s not stuffy, either). Porter bought this turtleneck for a ski trip, not thinking that “it would become something beyond a utilitarian thing.” But it turned into a staple. Especially as it’s easily worn on its own or layered, she explains. “It’s really buttery soft without the obvious texture and weight of fleece.” Porter adds that there’s a cotton lining on the other side of the fleece that helps with overheating (even though it’s just warm enough to begin with). Writer and digital creator Carrie Carrollo belonged to the turtlenecks-are-uncool camp as a child but has since come around. “The Heattech turtlenecks are the gold standard for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a style I like more,” she says. It comes in seven other shades, including burgundy and a more mustardy hue.

Best turtleneck–slash–mock neck

Technically a turtleneck, this T-shirt is spiritually more of a mock neck. At five-foot-two, founder of accessory company MLE Emily Li Mandri feels that turtlenecks tend to completely hide her neck. So she prefers mock necks — and turtlenecks that fold down enough for a mock mock neck. This one belongs to the latter category. As an upstate resident, she needs her turtlenecks to weather the cold, harsh winters. And Uniqlo’s is “literally magic” when it comes to locking in heat. It’s “extremely toasty, considering how thin (not in a see-through way) the material is,” Li Mandri says. Tamara Mayne, founder of Brooklyn Candle Studio, likes to keep her closet edited down but owns three of these. (She was surprised at how well they went with her other clothes.) The turtleneck also comes in four other colors.

Best (affordable) cashmere turtleneck

Like some of the other members of our turtleneck panel, whenever Sabine Le Guyader, co-founder of Lady Grey Jewelry, can’t find anything to wear, she turns to her husband’s side of the closet. She recently bought this turtleneck for him, but it’s in her rotation as well — even if it’s a size larger than her usual. The super-soft cashmere has the right weight — neither too thick nor too thin — and manages to keep her warm without overheating. Le Guyader adds that the turtleneck is long enough that she can wear it as a minidress or with bike shorts peeking through. It currently comes in smoke and taupe, too. If you need another reason to try out Naadam’s cashmere, Torie Tilley, founder of jewelry brand Common Era, also stole hers from her husband. She’s anti-wool, hating how the feel of the fabric fondles her chin.

Best (splurgeworthy) cashmere turtleneck

Porter firmly believes that everyone should have a black cashmere turtleneck in their closet. “It’s obviously just a more luxurious feel and more of a splurge, but if you want to up the ante, it’s definitely the way to go.” For a true classic take, Porter points to this cashmere sweater from Brooks Brothers. “A cashmere turtleneck definitely makes me feel like I’m in a Nancy Meyers film in the best way,” Porter says. “Who doesn’t want to feel like Diane Keaton?” You can also find it in six other colors, including camel, ivory, and green.

Best alpaca turtleneck

Christina Viviani, founder and creative director of luxury lingerie label the Great Eros, is staunch in her turtleneck theory. “I’m attracted to either end of the pendulum and nothing in between. A fitted mock neck, preferably sheer or of a lightweight knit, or a tall, slouchy turtleneck with an oversize fit using a chunky yarn.” This sweater, which she stole from her husband, falls into the latter category. She likes what she describes as “the attitude of menswear on a woman.” The boxy fit creates a “great profile” and a neck that “slouches in the perfect way,” as “you can leave it up without having to fold down.” The turtleneck is made completely from warm alpaca from Bolivia. It comes in white, too.

Best turtlenecks with cutouts

Turtlenecks have a reserved reputation. A hint of skin is unexpected and fun. “I always like to find a way to make a turtleneck look sexy,” says Kylie Nakao, founder and owner of jewelry brand Tarin Thomas. She looks for extras to make one feel less serious, like sequins or feathers. “The collarbone cutouts on this turtleneck give you just that,” Nakao says. She usually doesn’t go for mock necks, but the cutouts make for a cleaner neckline that looks better than it probably would as a traditional turtleneck. The shoulder-baring turtleneck features ribbing throughout for a figure-hugging fit. Nakao plans on wearing it near a fire with a hot date and a dirty martini.

Almost all of the turtlenecks Sheena Sood, founder of clothing brand abacaxi, has are in bright colors, in patterns, or tie-dyed. (The only black one she owns from her label features a faded kaleidoscopic print on the left side.) But one of the black turtlenecks on her wish list is actually this Norma Kamali bodysuit with diamond-shaped cutouts all along the arms and on the sides.

Best sheer turtleneck

Commando Mesh Turtleneck Top

If just some skin isn’t enough, something completely sheer might be more your speed. Co-founder of Lady Grey Jewelry Jill Martinelli’s inner goth can’t resist the pull of a sheer mesh turtleneck, which “adds a little edge to any outfit,” especially summery micro-floral slip dresses that you want to transition into the winter. She recommends two: a bodysuit from Hanky Panky and a top from Commando, which offers cool people-approved underwear already. But only the latter is still mostly in stock. Both are tight on the body, but they are also soft and stretchy, she says. “These definitely aren’t for the faint of heart, but they can be styled in so many ways to make them more practical,” Martinelli explains. “The key to wearing them is only showing bits and parts of them. I always like to contrast their overt sexiness with textures, colors, or prints that soften their bite.” And she mentions that they look just as amazing underneath a full suit or a cashmere sweater or with a pair of basketball shorts and track pants, for those who are more daring.

Best short-sleeved turtleneck

You know how with some long-sleeved T-shirts,you have to keep pulling and tugging the arms for those have-to-roll-up-my-sleeves moments? Well, not with this turtleneck. Sarah Palatnik, founder of Cute Fruit Undies (and who also works as a garment production manager for several brands, including Los Angeles Apparel), highly recommends it. The unusual elbow-length sleeves (tradition has it that turtlenecks are long-sleeved) always earn Palatnik compliments. But beyond the sleeves, it’s her favorite turtleneck for being perfectly stretchy — made from a viscose-and-elastane mix, it has held up well even after more than two and a half years. The T-shirt is still in stock in three additional colors: white, “Anthracite Chine,” and “Ombra.”

Best turtleneck bodysuit

Wolford, producer of cult-favorite tights, also offers a bodysuit that makes Fiocchi “feel like a boss” when she wears it. She turns to it whenever she wants a more elevated, well-defined silhouette. The stretchy bodysuit is like a second skin, she says, adding that “because this turtleneck is fitted, seamless, and opaque, I think it makes a great base layer.” It’s true to size but definitely long-torsoed, Fiocchi tells us. Since it’s a thong, no need to worry about any visible panty lines, either. Nakeo prefers the brand’s Orlando Bodysuit, which has a higher hem in the front and looks more like a string bikini in the back. But the Colorado comes in more colors — 11 total, including black, “midgrey,” and “acai.”

Best (less expensive) turtleneck bodysuits

Martinelli has had a rather contentious relationship with turtlenecks. Try as she might, most feel overwhelming and claustrophobic on her five-foot-three frame. Her solution is finding shorter, fitted turtlenecks or going for a mock neck. The Capezio leotard doesn’t cover the neck completely, stopping in the middle. An impulsive late-night purchase, the leotard has become a supportive player in her closet as an almost “full-upper-body Spanx.” And she can even skip wearing a bra since it’s wetsuitlike. There’s “a little slip to it, which makes it an incredible layering piece because it doesn’t rub or catch with other fabrics or look bulky — everything just glides over it.” It’s easy to dress up, as Martinelli will wear it with vintage Levi’s and secondhand Yves Saint Laurent marabou-and-satin mules. You can get it in white and two other colors as well. And for — in Behr’s words — “something that says ’70s art teacher in the best way,” try Skims’s just-as-affordable bodysuit (which Clare Vivier, founder of Clare V., also recommends).

Best funnelneck

We couldn’t forget about funnel-neck fanatics. This pullover was one of the few real-world purchases Morgan Solomon, founder of jewelry label AGMES, made during the pandemic. Solomon says the neck is the right height to be both warm and not restrictive, which is especially important for her, as she likes to walk from her place in Tribeca to the office and doesn’t like feeling suffocated on the way. “It’s equally cozy at home to lounge in and respectable for when I have meetings,” Solomon says. We’re cheating here just a bit, since Solomon owns it in cream and wears it with ivory jeans for a fully neutral look, but the pullover does, of course, come in black and “coastal blue,” too.

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What’s the Best Black Turtleneck?