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High collars come on many garments be them tops, shirts, waistcoats or jackets e.g. Mandarin or Nehru styles but in modern Western culture they are most often associated with the 'roll-neck' though that in itself can be confusing. High necked clothing doesn't have to roll, some have a collar high enough to be worn scrunched or rolled over and some are designed with just enough fabric to stand up and cover part of the neck.
One type of clothing, many names.
US: Turtle Neck
UK: Polo Neck.
All refer to what is basically a top with any length sleeves or sleeveless and most importantly a collar which covers at least part of the neck and is not sewn on separately such as on shirts/blouses.
It can be confusing to understand what a person means when they use any of the above terms because of culture differences e.g. in the UK the 'turtle neck' refers to a top usually of short sleeves, with a rounded and defined neckline that sits close to the base of the neck usually covering the collar bones but not always (known as a 'crew neck' too). OR in the US the term 'polo neck' could be mistaken for 'polo shirt' which is an item of apparel associated with people who play the sport polo. Those shirts have made their way into many schools as part of Physical Education uniforms as well. The Australian and New Zealand term 'skivvy' is probably most appropriate because 'skivvy' is also a common term for underwear or under garments in general and the top was and is still commonly worn for layering against the weather and was often worn by manual labourers, athletes and sailors.
SMART IN BOTH LOOKS AND BRAINS?
In the earlier part of the last century high necked tops were adopted from the working class by famous creative thespian types such as Noel Coward and Andy Warhol and hence made popular in fashionable circles full of raconteurs. Later on in the century they had filtered down to the less glittery but still artistic and thoughtful 'poetry house/café crowd'. Either way they most oft adorned the bodies of those considered intellectual, deep and broody, creative or those self proclaimed as such and thought of as smart mouths and bums/street philosophers to many.
DOES THAT MAKE THEM ELITIST?
High neck tops have become unisex and were made so by people seeking to forward women's position in society through the feminist waves in the early to mid 20th century. That in itself was a huge anti-elitist point coming after the worldwide history of women having to wear skirts and dresses no matter what the terrain, weather conditions or activity and those flouting convention having received mass backlash both as humans and as cultural/religious members. Once they had taken that step items such as high neck tops and fedoras were to follow. Then the film Annie Hall (1977) really broke the boundaries and catapulted menswear towards women and the title character was notably played by Diane Keaton who of course is known for being very dapper.
Another arena in which high neck tops play an anti-elitist role is in the workplace, specifically offices. Most adults are acquainted with business suits whether for work or special gatherings dealing with the ownership and belonging of people such as ceremonies connected to birth, death and marriage. Suits are sometimes known as 'stiff' (particularly those associated with the latter occasions) and thought of as uncomfortable with images of choking stiff collars (some detachable), braces, cummerbunds, ties/bowties, suspenders, cufflinks, possibly detachable cuffs, tie pins and other accessories coming to mind. Some of those items are required social paraphernalia and whilst some have been dispensed with altogether in modern times, such as the shirt bib, high neck tops offer an alternative to getting so dressed up whilst remaining smart or a freedom from the mounting feeling of constriction. Whilst I personally think that there's few things better than a well cut and tailored/customized suit for making you feel smart, confident, strong and making you look sleek and elegant - it can be too much, particularly in warm weather or if the event is semi-casual/formal. In the early stages of the garment's popularity wearing them as part of visible formal wear was seen as defiant, as a form of individuality, making a stand against the shirt and tie combo and what it represented to those who rebuked the whippersnappers and dissenters daring to do different.
Such a simple item of clothing, yet so controversial!
Back to practical matters, to the modern person considering wearing a high neck top a major aspect of interest is comfort. How comfortable are they, really?
We've moved on from the days of itchy, scratchy undergarments and clothes that immediately touch our skin. Our variety of fabrics has increased and high neck tops come in everything from cotton to stretchy mesh, woven to unwoven, knitted to netting. Many are soft, smooth and stretchy which are nice for everyday wear and depending on the fabric, breathable. Some are rugged, heavy and chunky for colder weather. Then there's the type associated with athletes e.g. leotards, unitards and separates worn in various sports from athletics to gymnastics to swimming. It was actually through gymnastics that I first experienced wearing high necks (worn with shorts) and once I stopped in my teens I cut the leotards into tops so as not to waste them because by then I'd thought of them as an asset for coverage, layering and comfort. I found they gave a feeling of both safety and warmth underneath my school uniform and were like tights/hose but for the upper body instead. They also didn't scrunch or upset the upper layers so I never had to adjust or wriggle around whilst wearing them. It turned out that it was lucky to cut them into tops because shortly after it became increasingly difficult to find lycra leotards in women's underwear/shapewear shops and the only places they were available in were sports stores within a considerably higher price bracket.
The comfort of layering is different for different people but it is possible, especially with the advent of internet shopping, to find high neck tops that you will feel comfortable in. If lycra is too tight and impractical (though has a pretty sheen/shine ) there is spandex, if spandex is too tight there is poly-spandex or polyester or polycotton. There are thicker fabric mixes like viscose, bengaline, stretch ponte etc. I've mentioned stretchy fabrics thus far because high neck tops are mainly seen as a second skin but as a top layer and for colder weather the heavier versions tend to have wider/looser necks and are made with fabrics such as acrylic, fleece and even faux fur. Not being particularly sensitive to collars I even wear double layers of high neck tops, for staying warm or when I have a sleeveless version that I provide coverage for with a long sleeved one worn underneath. It all depends on the thickness of the fabric and how loose/easy to fold the collar is.
We've discussed the history and covered the basic elements of what makes a high neck top and how they can be used/worn, but there's also the subjective element of taste and the fashions brought about by different preferences. In short, style darling.
This is in my opinion is ultimately the look that high neck tops help create. They smoothen the body shape and give an almost all-in-one flow between the upper and lower body whether wearing a skirt or trousers, for everybody regardless of sex or gender. Instead of the body being cut in half by a loose top or shirt the length is preserved more with a high neck top and the effect is one of sleekness. When combined with classic Black the illusion of length and slenderness is intensified even when worn with a belt. Those two qualities may not be particularly desired by the wearer though and the effect varies per person but it is noticeable so if you don't want to look like a stereotypical cat burglar nor perhaps too thin or elongated but still want the sleek effect you can always opt for classic White (including any of the Whitish shades).
***Tight or loose necked tops
Tighter necked looks smarter when made of a thinner fabric rather than thick fabric which can make it look like the wearer is being strangled. High neck tops with loose necks tend to be of thicker fabric to allow for layering underneath but when loose necks are combined with thin fabrics it's usually so that the neck isn't folded over but left to sit/fall in a wavy/curvy shape giving an informal appearance.
Even cowl neck tops (uh-oh another one - cowl necks are tops with very loose/draped collars that usually sit below the collar bones and sometimes sitting on the very edge of the shoulders) can be pulled up and pinned behind the neck for a high neck look and then released back to their original style when/if necessary.
***Underwear and sportswear as overwear
Where hemlines apparently mark a pattern in economic prosperity (shorter being for highs in prosperity and longer for lows) thankfully we don't have to wait until we feel financially broke or flushed to change the length of our tops. The traditional high neck top is approximately hip length but can be shorter or longer. The ascension of the cropped/'crop top' (also seen as a training bra) in the 80's alongside the development and obsession with gym wear pushed high neck tops to a whole new level. They again went from the sports and under/shapewear domain to being fashionable attire (akin to leggings...) So rather than being a type of functional wear it became fashionable to bear ones midriff, a trend we saw make a comeback last year, but not always to bear one's neck and perhaps not arms either.
The reverse is also true for length where high neck tops can be longer than hip length, sometimes much longer and can border on being a dress.
Note - I've used the term 'overwear' rather than 'outerwear' because the latter pertains to top layers such as jackets and coats.
***Colours, Prints & Textures
Classic Black or White have been joined by the almost endless possibilities of colour and print. High neck tops are such an essential to many that they likely have them in an array of colours and prints and if they can sew all the better for variety! Conventionally these tops are seen as smooth or chunky knit/ribbed but they can come in everything from sporty, shiny lycra to sparkly lurex and even sequins. Lace to houndstooth it's been done. The only fabrics/textures I haven't seen make the design make use of are technical fabrics such as acetate and rayon bases used for things like waterproof clothing but you never know.
TIPS FOR WEARING
***HELPFUL FOR -
1) Covering double necks or multiple chins,
2) Covering anything in the neck area such as scars
3) High neck tops create a distinct cut off point/line between the upper body and the face hence highlighting the face shape which is complimentary for those with transitional or mixed facial types. For example those who have a face shape that's in between being square and rectangular or a mix of two very different shapes such as rounded and heart shaped, a high neck top provides definition.
***NOT HELPFUL FOR -
1) On the flipside of no: 3 above, people with distinctly angular faces or very prominent cheek bones may find that high neck tops make them look gaunt, particularly if wearing one a dark colour.
2) People who are sensitive to coverage on their necks.
Fabric choice is important, as depending on that and their fit high neck tops can make you appear thinner or bigger. Some will hold you in at places such as the waist, gut and upper arms but some will enhance those places so pay attention to the nature of the fabric (how tight fitting or stretchy) and the sizing when you buy. The same applies to textures such as ribbed or wide braided. To adjust this effect:
1) Buy the next size up to help overall and/or tuck it under trousers/skirts.
If you can't or really don't want to tuck it in, belts can help.
2) For the waist - if you have an hourglass figure or normally slim waist a wide belt can help.
3) For the gut - a low slung/loosely worn hip style belt can help.
4) For slender people in particular - either shorter or longer than hip length high neck tops are complimentary and...
5) On longer length versions a slim width belt worn between the natural waist and hips can widen the look of the body a bit and cuts the top into two parts which are fairly wide helping the overall illusion.
6) High neck tops with long sleeves can be worn with accessories such as statement necklaces and cuffs to give them a dressy look or bracelets and rings for a 'boho' look.
7) High necks in thinner fabrics with the neck folded once and that stay in shape without falling can give the impression of a longer neck.
8) Thicker fabrics and fabrics that fall in waves (unless sewed at the sides in ruche style) can give the impression of a wider neck.
9) If the fabric of your top stretches too much and stays that way (e.g. cotton/polyester mix) or it's just too loose for your liking, keep a safety pin on you to discreetly pin it behind your neck to preserve the shape (it's good to carry safety pins anyway).
10) If your neck feels uncomfortable roll the neck down and breathe deeply and calmly.
Thanks for reading - the full photo edition is on my blog where I used pics to illustrate and compare. Thanks and all the best!
I am Jenifer Angela. I am just 18. I was frustrated about what to do ..How to approach into the fashion world. From the childhood I dream to be a successful model in UK...in the fashion world. But I do not know how I will start. One day my friend Alisha told me about Future Faces UK Competition. I believe every person has something God gifted power, just he or she needs to explore that. May be this competition will be the stair of my dream. I just went to join there. Joining Future Faces UK Competition was one of the best things I've ever done for my modeling career. I didn't have a portfolio so Future Faces helped me to create one, when I arrived at the venue I got my makeup and hair done then produced some fantastic pictures which were then summit into the competition! I've never felt so special."
For my latest review, I thought I would do something a little different. This article is just meant to be a little thought provoking, and entertaining, so please don't take it too seriously! You are free to disagree with me, as these are just my opinions.
As a 21 year old Graphic Design student, we have always been told to question everything that is related to our designs. Sometimes, I find myself asking the same questions when shopping for new clothes. There is no doubt that Britain has some exceptional talent in the fashion design world, not to mention those in the public eye who carry themselves with an equal amount of grace and sophistication. It was whilst watching some footage of a UK city on Youtube, which showed the city centre, whereby somebody commented on how people dress very differently to 100 years ago. Obviously, beyond the fact it was Victorian times etc, what the person was getting at, was how people took a lot more pride in their appearance - a million miles way from news reports in 2010, stating that young women in Cardiff were banned from a Tesco store for wearing their pyjamas.
There is no getting away from the fact that people can be under immense pressure, whether it's balancing work life with family life, the economic crisis and many other factors which affect the population. The question is, have we let standards slip in the way we conduct and present ourselves? I know The Jeremy Kyle Show is a terrible example and representation of the British public, but you only have to watch an episode to see that the only person wearing a suit on national television - is the presenter.
In some respects, I wish I was born in the era's when women especially, dressed as the black and white movie stars did. Pretty, feminine dresses, smart footwear and a dash of lipstick - none of this "sex sells" nonsense young girls look up to from the likes of Nicole Schr-whats-her-face, Rihanna, Katie Price and the rest. You could argue it is based on a more cultural change, however all of this inevitably has an impact on how we dress.
The worst of the current UK fashion trends was recently a well discussed debate on The Student Room website forum.
The main culprits from there were (as well as my own) :
Ugg Boots, Leggings as trousers, Neon Clothing, Sportswear when not doing sports, Ultra skinny jeans on men, Crocs, Guys who deliberately wear trousers low so underwear shows, Espadrilles and Palazzo trousers.
That is just the opinion of myself and other students, but what do you think - do any of these actually form good/respectable image for Brits?
Nobody is under the illusion that you need to wear a suit to your local co-op, but I personally think the way we dress, and present ourselves, definitely has an impact on our attitude. Not to mention how others perceive us.
Speaking off the Ugg boots, leggings as trousers, pyjama debate - when did this sense of slobbery creep into our everyday wear? Of course we want comfort and warmth in the winter, and I myself wear leggings (never as trousers) as they are easy to construct an outfit around, but for some reason cannot bring myself to wear any style of Ugg Boots, other than my slipper boots for inside wear only. When I see young girls in my local town wearing them, I don't see anything relatively attractive or appealing about them. We are not in the rockies whereby you keep your feet warm or risk loosing them, ladies.
I'm also having a difficult time warming to footwear in general at the moment too. From Espadrilles to Creepers and manish Brogues, the shape and design of all of these makes me shiver, and I perish the thought of strolling around in any of those shoes. Granted, this is just my opinion and everyone should dress as they please I guess, but personally... I don't want to wear something my Grandad once did before he passed, y'know?
In many fashion magazines I read, the writers always seem to comment on how having individual style is much more important than following trends, and that you should invest in key pieces rather than just what is "hot" at the moment. For the most part, this is advice I totally agree with. A good quality pair of jeans, a coat, a pair of boots etc, - are all items which will serve you faithfully for many years. There's nothing wrong with buying into trends of course, but what I have a problem with is the ones which make people look ridiculous, and they themselves only buy into it to look "cool" and because "it's in fashion". On all fronts my message would be to stick to your true self, and don't wear something silly and unflattering just because everyone else does.
It's not to say such opinions are directed solely at women though. Through asking some of my male friends, it became clear they too have pet hates when it comes to the way us Brits like to dress. On men, ill fitting jeans, whether that's overly tight or the ones which are extremely baggy in the middle, making it look like you've had a dreadful accident - all carried a weighty opinion. Personally, I take a dislike to guys who deliberately wear their jeans low enough to see their boxers. It just looks like you can't be bothered to pull your trousers up!
At the end of all this, you could well argue that fashion and the way we dress and present ourselves, is all just superficial. In many ways I agree with this, however as it's illegal to *not* wear clothes, it is something that has to be taken in consideration. I also understand those who equally, are not bothered by fashion whatsoever. When I'm at home, behind closed doors I happen to be one of those people too.
Whenever I have been to France, and looked at how French women dress, there is a stark contrast, and no they don't all wear stripey tops and have onions draped around their necks. It's about being chique, feminine, understated and very classic. There's also no such thing as Le Croydon Face-Lift (extremely tight/high up ponytail, for those of you who don't know). That's not to say I would ever wish we dressed like the French as I think we have some amazing British brands, it's more about not being so je ne sais quoi.
For me, the stand out shops we have in Britain are:
High Street: Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse, Zara, Debenhams, New Look, River Island, M&S
Shoes: Office, Schuh, Barratts, Kurt Geiger
Online: Asos, Missguided, Boohoo, Very
High End: Selfridges, Reiss, Coast, Whistles, Ted Baker
Agree with me, disagree with me? Let me know
(P.S: I wasn't going to post this on Dooyoo, until I saw a woman in town earlier pushing a bike up a hill in see through leggings. Nuff said!)
**Also appears on my blog http://grafikwaffle.tumblr.com/