My Kinda Clothes: The Vintage Combo Of Turtleneck + V-Neck

My Kinda Clothes is a charming term coined by the late Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop, and is an occasional series in which readers talk about their personal style. If you’d like to tell us about your own quirks and proclivities, please use the contact button above.

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I love wearing a turtleneck as a base layer in the winter. Under an oxford, or a crew neck sweater (or both), or to run in on very cold days under a reverse weave sweatshirt. I put one on when it’s cold enough to wear a scarf, but I might be running around doing errands or carrying things and I don’t want to have to think about whether I’m going to forget my scarf somewhere. I like the ones from Lands’ End because they’re thin enough to layer easily, and long enough to stay tucked in. I usually stick to white or navy, though I have a couple in black, too. 

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of old Playboy magazines for a project I’m doing on Instagram, and I’ve noticed a lot of images of guys wearing turtlenecks under v-neck sweaters. It was obviously something of a trend in the late 60s, and it’s what Playboy would call “collegiate” style – not quite Ivy, but related. I do not think it’s really timeless. The wide expanse of plain shirt rather than a necktie in the V doesn’t quite look correct, but it’s fun.

In the photo I’m wearing a thin lambswool v-neck in a natural color with a green and burgundy argyle pattern. I usually wear chunky Shetlands, and this is one of the few knits I own that fits closely to my body. With big, bulky sweaters I feel like I need to keep extra roomy sport jackets around to layer over them, so I usually end up just wearing them directly under a long coat or a Barbour jacket instead. Anyway, I don’t really like the line that’s created by the hem of the sweater hanging near the bottom of the jacket. Having some thinner knits to wear under your regular rotation of tailored jackets is nice, and what I really like about them is that I can tuck them in. I don’t know exactly where I got the idea for that – I think it was old Hollywood movies (I’m pretty sure it isn’t an Ivy thing) – but if you’re going to wear a sport jacket I think it’s smart to keep the waist where it’s supposed to be, visually. 

More and more of my trousers now are from O’Connell’s. The high waist is perfect, the quality always feels spot-on, and they come with suspender buttons. If you know your measurements very well, they’ll hem and cuff them for you free of charge, though I’ve had to get a few pairs re-hemmed by my tailor, because different fabrics can hang differently at the same inseam. I like that they’re roomy without looking wide. These are moleskin. Their corduroys are the best I’ve ever worn. The shoes I’m wearing are suede Alden moc toe bluchers, and I ordered them from O’Connell’s, too. They were my first pair of Aldens and the O’Connell’s folks were nice enough to talk me through the sizing on the phone. These have a rubber sole which makes them practical for me for everyday wear, because I’m always schlepping around the city either on foot or by bicycle. Here in the picture I’m on a staircase in Jersey City walking from a used furniture warehouse to a pizza place a mile up a big hill.

I don’t have the budget to buy everything new, and I wouldn’t want to. My sport jacket is a 1960’s Brooks Brothers in grey herringbone tweed. It’s a lighter weight tweed, and soft. The shoulders are gloriously soft and it has all the Ivy details you’d want, like swelled edges and patch-and-flap pockets. I bought it at a vintage store in Olympia, WA for $40. I buy a lot of things on eBay, too. A lot of eBay sellers don’t know what they have so you can find some great deals if you’re willing to invest the time in it. You have to learn how to search for things, so all sport jackets are “blazers,” and all overcoats are “trench coats.” It can be maddening, but it’s rewarding when it pays off. The coat hanging on the rail is an old Gloverall duffel coat from eBay. I don’t like that the newer ones have a high percentage of nylon in them, so I searched on eBay until I found one that was almost entirely wool. If you don’t want to spend your waking hours typing variations of “tweed blazer 38” into eBay, check out Crowley Vintage. His stuff is not exactly cheap but it’s an amazing value for what it is – think a few hundred bucks for overcoats that might be 3-4x that new – and he has a serious eye for finding special pieces that are subtly distinct. The last time I was there he had plenty of sweaters like the one I’m wearing, in all sorts of cool color combinations.

Most of the year I’m a big ballcap guy. Part of the appeal of Ivy style for me is that it can be both dressy and casual at the same time. A baseball cap to me is a quintessentially American garment, and I find it very much at home with button-down collars, sack jackets, and loafers. I wear wool ones into the winter, but when it’s cold enough to pull your hat down over your ears, I reach for a watch cap or a beret. Here, I think the beret ties everything together. It’s a classic type of hat, but it also has a bohemian connotation that I thought brought the turtleneck/v-neck combination into a slightly different context. I know there are nice berets out there that are fitted, with leather bands, etc. I expect I will upgrade some day. Mine was from a thrift store and even though it’s a little itchy and doesn’t hold any particular shape, I like that I can stuff it into my coat pocket if I need to, and my fiancee likes that she can borrow it whenever she wants.

I dress in Ivy style almost every day, but I don’t see it as a rigid prescription for what to wear. For me, Ivy style is both historical and alive. There’s what’s “correct,” and then there’s your personal style, and they should be something of a Venn diagram. So I don’t worry too much if Playboy/Hollywood/beatnik influences are textbook Ivy or not, but I do think about how to synthesize the different parts into something that makes sense together. Even though Ivy style has plenty of its own rules and conventions, I think its roots as slightly irreverent campus wear make it a great backdrop to contextualize other influences as well. — MAXWELL Q. WOLKIN

13 Comments on "My Kinda Clothes: The Vintage Combo Of Turtleneck + V-Neck"

  1. Maxwell is a great guy with great style. We’re Instagram friends and his feed features some of his awesome, unique looks. So glad he was featured here!
    On a separate note, in my own “My Kinda Clothes” feature (from three years ago now, holy cow!!), I got a lot of comments about the turtleneck under a V-neck sweater look. Needless to say, a style I fully endorse!

  2. “For me, Ivy style is both historical and alive.”

    Absolutely!

  3. Re: “The high waist is perfect”.
    It certainly is!

  4. I’ve always liked turtlenecks with v necks, or cotton dickies with v necks. I found that except for the coldest days the turtlenecks tended to get too hot with the v necks. I like the tucked in look but I found it a problem as I’m tall and thin and the sweater end would bunch up and lap over the belt or make the top of my slacks bulk out like I’d suddenly put on 20 pounds. You pull it off though!

  5. If only my students dressed this well!

  6. Old School Tie | February 18, 2021 at 11:02 am |

    I used have a lovely fawn argyle v-neck in the 1980s. Wish I still had it, they’re pretty expensive these days and I can never find one in the right colours. I am also a fan of gloves with tweed jacket and no overcoat in the winter. Bravo!

  7. I can dig it

  8. Not my cuppa.

    Will

  9. I have no use for turtlenecks or v-necks, either together or apart.

    A turtleneck is like a scarf that you can’t take off. V-necks are just wrong

  10. Cool navy beret. V-necks are so right. Turtlenecks are sophisticated.

  11. Man in the White Pinpoint | February 18, 2021 at 11:41 pm |

    An interesting blend of elements from different styles The beret and turtleneck remind me of the existentialist look that I encountered in Paris in the early 1960s. The jacket, v-neck, and chinos are purist Ivy. The shoes are, I guess, Americana/Trad workwear look. All-in-all a successful example of sartorial fusion that doesn’t bother me at all. Thank God, there’s nothing Preppy/GTH in this combination.

  12. A good look! Personally, I am not a beret or baseball cap kinda guy (You’ll recognize me. I’m the ass in the genuine fedoras.), but the rest of the combined attire pictured above and Mr. Wolkin’s overall approach to dressing is to be admired in our otherwise slovenly age where even NASA engineers now resemble Family Video or Domino’s Pizza sales clerks.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

  13. Kudos for putting your style out there. Not my bag, but appreciate that you have a point of view and style distinct from others’ (and my own). One question about the duffel coat? Is it correctly sized? As many show, the purest trad expression is at least three, and ideally five sizes too large – you know, the “dad, can I borrow this” look?

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