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5 Turtleneck Looks Inspired by Iconic Women

From Audrey Hepburn to Michelle Obama.

By Madeleine Kim

September 25, 2020

You might be surprised to learn that the turtleneck has a somewhat complicated history. Since it came on the scene in the late ‘50s, it’s been ridiculed as clownish, written off as the clothing of hipsters (the horror!), and mocked as just plain uncool (Elizabeth Holmes was far from the first person to give the garment a scandalous association). But if you take style cues from iconic women throughout history (and really, why wouldn’t you?), you’ll see that the turtleneck deserves a prominent place in your wardrobe. Lending so much more than just warmth and coziness (though we very much appreciate those attributes, especially these days), a great turtleneck makes you feel like the sleekest, most confident version of yourself. Here are a few of our favorite turtleneck-wearers, plus how you can get their looks.

Audrey Hepburn

If the slinky black cocktail dress is Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic outfit, her turtleneck-and-cigarette-pants look has to be a close second. This ensemble is one of few that can truly be called timeless. Recreate it for yourself by pairing the cozy Sharon top in plush terry with the stretchy-yet-structured Foster pants and a pair of black loafers—and that’s it! You’ve got an outfit that can take you anywhere.

Photo: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

Angela Davis

Activist and educator Angela Davis embodies ‘70s style at its best. To emulate her look, tuck a fitted turtleneck into some wide-leg, high-waisted pants. Comfortable boots and a statement necklace will pull it all together. Wear this machine-washable power outfit to work, or any time you want to feel ready to rally.

Photo: Pinterest

Edie Sedgwick

Socialite and style icon Edie Sedgwick (of Segwick belt fame, around these parts) provides the perfect example for how to wear the turtleneck’s more playful little sister: the mockneck. To get her look, simply wear the mockneck Giulia top with your favorite simple black skirt, tights, and a pair of party shoes. Fun statement jewelry—like the Kalpana necklace and Cannon earrings—will transform this into the best kind of night-out ensemble.

Photo: Getty/John Springer Collection

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is known for her style, and her turtleneck look does not disappoint. Not afraid of bold colors, the former First Lady would look great in our Axam turtleneck in cranberry (and our cashmere McKenzie sweater in medallion for that matter), paired with the pleated (and machine-washable) Remy skirt. Keep things cozy with the Lana boots and some tights, and add the Bernadette necklace for extra shine.

Photo: UPI photo/eyevine

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle is always glowing—especially when she’s rocking a cozy-yet-elegant turtleneck. For a similar outfit, pair a tuckable turtleneck with something long and elegant, such as the asymmetrical Melrose skirt. Shoes in the same color family and a polished trench coat will have you ready to rub elbows with the royals (or whatever you decide to get up to this week).

Photo: James Whatling/MEGA

Bonus: John Legend

Your treat for reading all the way to the bottom is this photo of John Legend, proving that he would absolutely slay in the Axam turtleneck in camel.

Photo: La La Land

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is the Senior Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

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