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Why Not a Turtleneck Instead of a Shirt and Tie?

September 16th, 2016

In a business casual context a turtleneck is a perfect shirt and tie alternative

By now, it should be apparent that one of the major business casual themes we’re teasing out this month is the idea and importance of substitution. Is a blazer too dressed up? Substitute a cardigan. Would a traditional silk tie be too formal? Substitute a knit tie.

In both of the instances described above, the substitution serves the purpose of dialing down the level of formality. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. A substitution can be a strictly lateral move as well, changing the tone of the outfit rather than just bumping it down a notch.

Nowhere is that better illustrated than by swapping the shirt and tie for a sweater. And, of course, a turtleneck is perfect for that kind of lateral transfer.
business casual turtleneck

business casual turtleneck

| WEARING | Suitsupply blazer, Uniqlo turtleneck, PT01 pants, Oliver Peoples glasses, Cartier watch, Drake’s pocket square, Boots c/o Jack Erwin | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

Aside from being one of our perennial favorites in the sweater division here at HSS, a turtleneck is a great shirt and tie alternative and a perfect business casual piece for fall. Actually, let’s just go ahead and call it a fall business casual essential.

Why does it work so well in this context? Well, a sweater looks just like it feels – soft. So it has the visual effect of “softening” the outfit. Whereas a traditional shirt and tie combination looks, well, traditional, a turtleneck somehow possesses qualities that give it a relaxed casualness while still appearing suitably refined.

It’s important to remember that styling is key if you are going to attempt this look.

business casual turtleneck

A turtleneck will certainly “soften” an outfit’s appearance, but it will still take on the attributes of what it is being worn with. For example, worn with a suit, it’s going to feel more formal. Wear one with jeans and it leans towards casual.

So if we’re talking business casual – which we definitely are – wear it with a blazer and a pair of grey or navy pants. A straight shirt and tie substitution.

business casual turtleneck

In the footwear department, try a suede derby or brogue to match the casual but elegant (sorry, for the journalistic cop out) feel of the turtleneck. Or consider a pair of Chelsea boots if you’re feeling a bit more style forward or perhaps meeting a date for drinks right after work.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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