By the end of the 1970s, turtlenecks had become a fashionable choice for both men and women. But, the popularity of turtlenecks blossomed in the 1980s thanks to television and movies.
If you aren’t familiar with “turtlenecks”, basically it is a top that has extra material that also covers the neck area. Typically turtlenecks come in the form of sweaters, however there are shirts and even dresses that are “turtleneck” as well.
The History Of Turtlenecks
The concept of the turtleneck dates back hundreds of years. Over the centuries the design of the sweater has changed drastically, and as a result, the turtleneck that we know today can be traced back to the late 1800s. They were a popular choice for dockworkers, sailors, and fishermen due to their ability to protect the neck from frigid winter winds.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, turtlenecks had become popular sportswear for rugby, polo, and hockey players. They were commonly worn by athletes in college, and as a result, women who were also part of athletic teams at many universities across the country would also sport a turtleneck when participating in events.
The popularity of turtlenecks continued to grow over the next few decades, and eventually they became more of a fashionable option for women. It was not uncommon to see women wearing a turtleneck and a long skirt.
By the 1950s however, the turtleneck made the transition from a staple of the working class to a more casual dress style. As a result of counterculture, more and more people began wearing turtlenecks throughout the 60s and 70s.
They provided both men and women with an alternative to wearing a dress shirt, and because of this they were more popular with the intellectual crowds including poets, musicians, artists, and beatniks.
Throughout the 80s, a number of films were released that featured the starring actor wearing a turtleneck. In the 1980 film, Death Wish 3, Charles Bronson regularly wore a turtleneck throughout the movie.
Bronson, who plays a vigilante, took on the street gangs of New York. Since the beginning, turtlenecks have always been associated with ruggedness and manliness, so it was naturally fitting for Bronson to wear one throughout the film.
When Harry Met Sally
By the mid-1980s, turtlenecks had become a staple of almost every woman’s wardrobe, and most women had at least one turtleneck in their wardrobe. In 1989, Rob Reiner released the film When Harry Met Sally, which featured Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.
The film itself follows the characters over a 12-year period filled with chance encounters and romance. Throughout the film, Meg Ryan is regularly seen wearing a turtleneck.
Then you have the very popular 1980s horror film, The Shining. For most of the film, Jack Nicholson wore a flannel shirt with a corduroy jacket.
In the movie, Nicholson plays a recovering alcoholic who spent the season taking care of a historic hotel in the mountains with his family. The only time in the film that you didn’t see him wearing a plaid shirt, was when he was wearing a dark gray turtleneck.
After the release of the shining, it became commonplace to see movie villains wearing a turtleneck as they plotted their next big crime.
Are Turtlenecks Still Popular Today?
Turtlenecks were a popular fashion trend in the 1980s, and they still remain popular today. This is likely due to the fact that turtlenecks are a timeless fashion, and again we can trace their roots back to over a hundred years ago!
Usually fashion trends that stand the test of time are the ones that aren’t too outrageous that also have functionality. Turtlenecks are fashionable and also keep you warm, so it’s not surprising that this fashion still remains popular today.