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My Secret Weapon: The Turtleneck

This little wardrobe gem is the perfect base for any outfit


spinner image a woman wearing a stylish black turtleneck
Shown above: C by Bloomingdale’s Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater in Black ($134, bloomingdales.com). Good alternatives: The Nordstrom Cashmere Turtleneck in Black ($169, nordstrom.com) and the Aqua Turtleneck Cashmere Sweater in Black ($134, bloomingdales.com).
Bloomingdale’s; Eve Livesey/Getty Images

The title of one of the late, great Nora Ephron’s books was I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts About Being a Woman. I can relate.

I don’t let a lot of age-related physical changes get me down. I’m pretty OK with the extra weight around my middle. I have learned to dress accordingly. And that tummy bulge came with the unexpected bonus of bigger boobs. Having been flat-chested for most of my life, I’m happy that my curvy hips suddenly have a “friend” — allowing me to identify as an hourglass figure instead of a pear-shaped one.

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The laugh lines around my eyes are just a reminder that I had a blast throughout my youth — and continue to do so with my life-long girlfriends.

But my neck is a different story. It was once long and swanlike. Now it’s kind of loose. Too many teenage days spent at the Jersey shore, tanning my face with baby oil and an album cover wrapped in tin foil. Apparently, the skin on your neck is thinner and less resilient than the skin on your face. If only I knew then what I know now!

That’s the number one reason why I have come to love turtlenecks. Thank goodness it’s turtleneck season once again! It’s worth springing for one in cashmere, the softest, lightest and warmest of wools if you can. Look for a version that fits close to the neck (no droopy cowls!) and that is somewhat fitted through the body, as opposed to oversized.

Another reason I love them is that you can wear a turtleneck for almost any occasion. You can dress it up or dress it down. A black cashmere turtleneck worn with a black skirt or pants becomes the perfect base of almost any outfit, for day or night. That’s why I always pack one when I travel at this time of year.

I have created four outfits based on the same black cashmere turtleneck to demonstrate the versatility of this wardrobe essential. Here you go:

For the office, a luncheon or an important meeting

Pair the turtleneck with a pencil skirt in this season’s hot color, fire-engine red, and a kitten-heel slingback. Top it off with a classic khaki trench coat and a houndstooth structured bag for added texture.

spinner image Sam Edelman Fitzgerald Slingback Pointed Toe Pump in Black; J.Crew Factory Small Houndstooth Structured Tote Bag in Camel Multi Houndstooth; By Anthropologie Bombshell Pencil Skirt in Bright Red; Zara Water Repellent Trench Coat
Clockwise from bottom left: Sam Edelman Fitzgerald Slingback Pointed Toe Pump in Black ($140, nordstrom.com); J.Crew Factory Small Houndstooth Structured Tote Bag in Camel Multi Houndstooth ($45, factory.jcrew.com); By Anthropologie Bombshell Pencil Skirt in Bright Red ($83, anthropologie.com); Zara Water Repellent Trench Coat ($90, zara.com/us)
Nordstrom; J.Crew Factory; Anthropologie; Zara

For a cocktail party, gala or special event

Pair the matte turtleneck with a full skirt in a shiny contrasting texture. Add a glamorous but comfortable flat shoe with a sparkly strap, and a stack of stretchy crystal bangles. An inexpensive faux-fur vest contributes to the luxe vibe.

spinner image Jewel Badgely Mischka Women’s Vana Pointed Toe Evening Flat in Black Satin; Aqua Crystal Stretch Bracelets, Set of 5; White House Black Market Fit-and Flare Midi Skirt in Black; Youhan Women’s Faux Fur Vest Coat Sleeveless Jacket in Black
Clockwise from bottom left: Jewel Badgely Mischka Women’s Vana Pointed Toe Evening Flat in Black Satin ($76, macys.com); Aqua Crystal Stretch Bracelets, Set of 5 ($29, bloomingdales.com); White House Black Market Fit-and Flare Midi Skirt in Black ($130, whitehouseblackmarket.com); Youhan Women’s Faux Fur Vest Coat Sleeveless Jacket in Black ($30, amazon.com)
Macy's; Bloomingdale's; White House Black Market; Amazon

For a day of shopping, visiting friends or sightseeing

Pair the sweater with a classic black blazer, wide-leg pants and a chunky, lug-heeled leather loafer. The leopard tote upgrades the whole look. You’re welcome.

spinner image Rothy's The Lightweight Tote in Desert Cat; Madewell The Bradley Lug Sole Loafer in Leather in True Black; NYDJ Classic Blazer Jacket in Black; J.Crew Sydney Wide-Leg Pant in Bi-Stretch Cotton Blend in Ivory
Clockwise from bottom left: Rothy's The Lightweight Tote in Desert Cat ($179, rothys.com); Madewell The Bradley Lug Sole Loafer in Leather in True Black ($158, madewell.com); NYDJ Classic Blazer Jacket in Black ($139, nydj.com); J.Crew Sydney Wide-Leg Pant in Bi-Stretch Cotton Blend in Ivory ($98, jcrew.com)
Rothy's; Madewell; NYDJ; J.Crew

For a walk in the country, a cold day in the city or an outdoor event

Pair the knit top with a cozy textured topper (love this one!) black jeans, comfortable waterproof boots, and a cute, colorful beanie.

spinner image Old Navy High-Waisted Wow Loose Black Jeans for Women in Black Jack; Gap Factory Sherpa Coat in Holiday Brown; & Other Stories Fuzzy Knit Beanie in Orange; Sorel Women’s Kinetic Impact Conquest Sneaker Boot in Tawny Buff/Ceramic
Clockwise from left: Old Navy High-Waisted Wow Loose Black Jeans for Women in Black Jack ($35, oldnavy.gap.com); Gap Factory Sherpa Coat in Holiday Brown ($69, gapfactory.com); & Other Stories Fuzzy Knit Beanie in Orange ($49, stories.com/en_usd); Sorel Women’s Kinetic Impact Conquest Sneaker Boot in Tawny Buff/Ceramic ($175, sorel.com)
Old Navy; Gap Factory; & Other Stories; Sorel

Last word

If you live where the weather is warm year-round (lucky you!), turtlenecks may not be the be-all and end-all solution to the challenge of an aging neck — but there’s always the light-weight scarf ... or a good serum. And let’s look on the bright side! There are many worse things than a saggy neck.

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