I’m always looking for ways to dress down suits, and one of the most popular ways to do this is to switch out your shirt and tie for a turtleneck sweater.
This a look that works for many reasons. With its high fold around the neck, a good turtleneck does an excellent job framing your face. In this respect, it actually does a similar job to a shirt’s collar by adding more structure to the neckline than a simple crewneck sweater would offer.
The right turtleneck can also hit the perfect balance of formality. Slim sweaters in quality fabric look quite formal, making them the perfect item to pair with a suit.
In this article, I’ll explain the basics behind styling turtlenecks and suits. I’ll also introduce seven different outfit combinations so you can take inspiration and then style it yourself.
Different Ways to Wear a Turtleneck with a Suit
There are countless ways to style a turtleneck and suit. The easiest is to pair a dark suit and dark turtleneck, but there are plenty of ways to experiment with fit, colors, and even materials.
Wear a Black Turtleneck with a Black Suit
Wearing a black turtleneck with a black suit is a simple to look to pull off. You don’t have to worry about color clashes. Although it decreases the suit’s formality, this all-black outfit is still great for a semi-formal outfit event.
The image above is a great example of this look in action. I especially love the trainers which further add a casual element to the suit.
You could also complete this look with a good pair of black oxfords or Chelsea boots if you wanted a more formal finish.
Wear a Gray Turtleneck with a Charcoal Suit
Charcoal works well with lighter shades of gray. You can see in the outfit above how the light color of the turtleneck breaks up the otherwise dark outfit. In fact, it does a similar job to the sneakers in the above outfit.
Another interesting point from this fit is that the model tucked their sweater into their suit pants. This is a style-point that can work well with light knitwear and keep the outfit looking smart.
Style a White Turtleneck with a Navy Suit
I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that wearing a white shirt with a navy suit is the most common shirt and suit combination there is. With this in mind, it only stands to reason that a white turtleneck would go just as well with a navy suit.
In the above image, the model finishes the look with a red socks, which is another color that goes super well with navy.
Wear with the Turtleneck Tucked into the Pants
You’ll notice two distinct choices the outfits in the article, those that choose to tuck the turtleneck into the pants, and those that don’t. Tucking the sweater into your pants ensures you keep your look clean and it creates a seamless transition from the top to the bottoms.
If you choose to go this route, be sure to choose a turtleneck in thinner material or risk unsightly bulges around your waist. The fit will probably also be quite uncomfortable.
Wear with a Light-colored suit
Light-colored suits are typically more casual than colors like navy or black. This makes them great candidates to dress down with a turtleneck. The above image does a great job of this by pairing the off-white suite with rich brown knitwear. The color really brings a vibrant shine to the overall outfit.
Play with color
Another way to make a make your outfit stand out is to get playful with color. In the above image, the model pairs a classic dark gray turtleneck with a red suit. It’s a loud look that won’t work for everyone, but can look good if you have the confidence to pull it off.
And remember, you don’t need to go all out with a bright red suit. This idea would work equally well with more toned down yet still uncommon suit colors. It would work well with maroon, light blue, or brown suits.
Try with Separates
A look that’s adjacent to wearing a turtleneck with a suit is wearing one with separates. The gray blazer, beige chinos, and beige turtleneck in the image above create a smart business casual look that’s easy to copy.
Different Sweater Styles You Can Wear with a Suit
Besides a turtleneck, a few other sweater styles go well with a suit. A mock neck, for example, doesn’t completely wrap around the neck but performs the same job of framing the face.
Regular crew neck or v-neck sweaters are the easiest type of knitwear to wear with a suit. Choose a plain design in a color that compliments the shade of your suit. Like when wearing a turtleneck with a suit, this typically works better with sweaters made form thinner materials. You can also choose to wear a shirt under the sweater to keep your outfit looking sharp.
Cardigans can also work with suits. These give your outfit a similar look to when you wear a waistcoat with suit. Wear with it with a collared shirt for extra style points.
Your final option is collared knit polo shirts. This style is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment so you have plenty of options. The benefit of this type of sweater is that the collar looks great with a suit. It’s still quite casual though, so could easily work with a casual suit and sneakers.
Coordinating the Fabrics
Turtlenecks are typically worn in the colder months; therefore, they are functional as well as stylish. But not every style of turtleneck goes with a suit.
A turtleneck in thin knit is the safest option. Sweaters in thinner fabric tend to be more formal, meaning they’re a great match to wear with suits.
Things to Avoid When Wearing a Turtleneck with a Suit
The first thing you should always avoid is the bad fit. For example, if a turtleneck is excessively chunky or loose, you can’t wear it with a suit.
Another thing you should restrain from is wearing a turtleneck with a tuxedo or dinner jacket. These are most formal types of suits and a turtleneck will be an awful choice so stick to a shirt and tie or bowtie.
Finally, don’t wear an undershirt with thin cream or white turtlenecks if you can see the shirt through the material. This is never a good look.