Turtleneck by Michelle Lyhne Schjerbeck

Consider the Turtleneck The evolution of an elite staple.

Consider the Turtleneck The evolution of an elite staple.

Issue 38

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Stephanie d’Arc Taylor
  • Photograph Cecilie Jegsen

NOTES

For such an unfussy garment, the history of the turtleneck is a strange one. First worn as a protective layer between chain mail and knights’ delicate necks, it was then adopted by sailors and merchant marines as insulation against frigid ocean squalls. Now, it has become a signifier. Of what? That seems to change as often as the sea wind. 

The turtleneck has had so many iconic moments that it’s hard to conjure up just one. Steve Jobs comes to mind, of course. So do Audrey Hepburn and Michel Foucault. Ask an octogenarian and they’ll likely weave a tale of some dreamy beatnik with whom they locked eyes in the late 1950s. 

The turtleneck’s utilitarian nature lent itself to the person who wished to be seen as political, nonconforming, unconcerned with fashion, and even uninterest...

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