Fashion & Beauty / Collections Digest

The Enduring Appeal of the Polo Neck

As polo necks dominate the runway at Pringle's A/W14 menswear show for London Collections: Men, we consider their history and timeless appeal

Pringle A/W14
Pringle A/W14 Photography by Rosaline Shahnavaz

The Polo Neck, more commonly referred to as a Turtle Neck in the South Pacific, or Roll Neck in North America, has remained staple to a gentleman’s wardrobe – in one flash or another – since the era of Beau Brummel who was in the truest sense undoubtedly the founding ambition behind dandyism and a Savile Row reference to this day.

As far as dandies are concerned, the high neckkerchief or wraparound sash that would be typically found tied about the necks of 18th century gentlemen has advanced tenfold in its reimagination as the modern day polo neck. The resurgence of the item is a nod to classicism whilst celebrating the simplicity of sophisticated style: from Mad Men power-bodies to 90s Armani tailoring.

In hindsight, the polo neck isn’t revolutionary as it is fundamental to a men’s – or a woman’s – wardrobe, functioning as both a warm staple and a self-asserting posture-positioning mechanism; an upright tool which oozes the prowess possibly more associated with a bustier or, dare it be said, corsetry.

Pringle recently released a series of campaign visuals showcasing models sporting a-turtle-neck-a-piece. The sleek, almost synthetic looking variation is shown under a crew neck sweater and understatedly reaffirms its use not only as a ‘classic’ but as a basic styling tool.

"The polo neck functions as both a warm staple and a self-asserting posture-positioning mechanism"

Exuding either minimalism or romanticism, the roll neck can be worn in both styles hence its continuing popularity, turning up on the runways of none other than Lanvin, Raf Simons and E. Tautz A/W13 respectively…to name but a few.

There is something to be said about covering the neck. It intrigues even the manliest of men, and true to [trendy] form, herds are flocking to grab hold of their next chin-high woollen number, whether it be to keep mildly insulated or to slicken up a two piece ensemble.

Text by Andrew Blyszak