Do Turtlenecks Camouflage Turkey Necks?

turtleneck over 40Hello Deborah,

Please help!  Turtlenecks used to be my go to item – especially in black.  I’d wear one practically every day in the winter.  Now I’m 42, they don’t look so hot on me at all.   I feel like they highlight that little bit of loose skin right under my chin and cheeks that you can barely see otherwise.  When I see other women I think this about them too…yet everyone still wears them. 

Is it one of those things that you just suck up and still wear as you get older even though it doesn’t look so hot  (kind of like a bathing suit)?  I am wondering if I should just bite the bullet and start wearing them again.  Or maybe you know of a way to make them look better?

Thanks so much, AJ

Dear A.J.

I wouldn’t suggest wearing anything that doesn’t flatter you. There are too many choices out there!

I get what you mean about turtlenecks. With age they often fall off the favorites list because if you have a “turkey neck” as many women call it ( lots of loose skin), or jowls, a tight turtleneck will draw attention to it.

If you wear black turtlenecks it is even worse because black right next to your face after 40, 50 or 60 can really wash you out.

Diane Keaton turtleneck

Still, there are still many women who adore turtlenecks, like Diane Keaton. Nobody quite knows what’s going on with her, but she wears them so much they’ve become her trademark.

Sometimes she looks dull and matronly in them, but other times she looks great. You really have to judge for yourself  if a turtleneck looks good on you. I would suggest if you have a short neck or a  big bust you definitely stay away, as they will only make you look heavy, bulky and short.

The other thing I’m wondering is, maybe you are just worrying too much about your neck? It’s easy to get fixated on an aging body part.

Why not show your neck? Did you know that covering up so much can actually make you look older. A little bit of skin is youthful.

Have you tried a cowl neck sweater?

cowl neck sweater

It puts the emphasis at your chest instead of your neck. I think cowl neck sweaters look really pretty on mature women because they are soft and inviting. So think about getting one!



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  1. Seana Mallini says:

    Hi Deborah,

    I live in Australia and absolutely love your website !!!!!

    I have a leopard print wrap dress which is absolutely gorgeous, but am wondering at 47 years of age, am I able to wear it? It has lovely warm colours, but not sure if I can get away with wearing it.

    Regards, Seana

    • Hi Seana,
      Australia, Wow! Great to have you! Yes, you can absolutely wear that dress at any age. A wrap dress is a classic style that is perfect for 40+ and a leopard print gives it a little sizzle. I’m sure you will look fab. Did you check out this post? Read it through and follow the links. It will give you some pointers on how to wear it. http://bit.ly/1rtiw1T
      Cheers! Deborah

  2. Lisa Scott says:

    Thanks for all the pictures. I need more pictures on your pages. I am fashion challanged! I grew up a tomboy and will always be a tomboy at heart. But at 44 I am starting to feel old and frumpy. I NEED your help!!
    I recently lost 100lbs and can now go shopping, but still find myself not knowing what looks good on me.

    • Hi Lisa,
      Congratulations on your spectacular weight loss! I can imagine that you are still trying to dress a plus size body and need help finding out what shape your are now. I suggest you try our the my private stylist course we offer in the newsletter.

  3. I have been noticing this problem for a few years now-am now 55. I’ve seen some “split” mock turtlenecks in a few catalog stores that are much more flattering on the older necks. They give you that lengthening little V. As for black-with the exception of the summertime and a tan, I’m afraid it’s over for me. Always stick with charcoal or brown as the other is just too harsh looking against my skin.

    • Hi Debra Sue,
      Great tips.. thanks!!!! I love those split turtlenecks and have seen them at Nordstrom. It is so tempting to wear black as we age, since we think it will make us look thinner. However, up on top as you mentioned, it can be aging! YIKES… I love color and find that turtlenecks in a festive color than black can really liven up one’s face and attitude.

  4. Deborah,

    I enjoy your articles and postings. However, I don’t understand why your models are generally way UNDER 40 when the whole point of your site is fabulous AFTER 40. If you could use some age appropriate models and some models with a ‘little extra’, that would be great.

    You both look FABULOUS, but not all of us do. I would love to see models and ideas for women over 40 who…. well, aren’t size 2 (or even 8)…

    Thanks!

    • Hi Gwenn,
      Great to hear from you.. YES, YES!! I hear you, and so many of my readers do point that out. The sad news is that I just can’t seem to convince any of the stores to use models that are “real”. I’m limited with the choice of photos on the internet of women over 40 modeling clothes. Guess I have to start taking my own.
      Cheers,Deborah

    • Hi Gwenn,
      The models are way under 40 because that’s all that is out there. You see we use pictures from internet catologues and magazines, and for some crazy reason they don’t seem to think that women over 40 buy clothes! I’d love to be able to find some sites that have beautiful clothes and use 40+ models, so if you find any please let me know. In the meantime, I’m stuck with you having to use your imagination a bit. When is the retail and advertising industry going to wake up?

      Cheers, Deborah

  5. Black is my staple color but I’m rethinking that after seeing the pictures of Diane Keaton…hopefully it’s better lighting and a little airbrushing.

    • Hi Mary,
      There is definitely some airbrushing going on in that second one. Still, black can make you look like you’ve got one foot in the grave if your skin and hair are fair.

    • Hi Mary,
      LOL.. you are probably right about that, however, the point is still well taken. A fun test is to go into a well lit dressing room with a black turtleneck and a colorful one. You should see the difference and find yourself drawn to the colorful one.

  6. Deborah,
    I like Michael Kors turtlenecks They’re soft, feminine, modern, simple in design– and “sexy”. The turtle neck like the tee shirt has been a wonderful staple but as you age it constricts the neck –so a good jawline sure helps. I agree (and have blogged) that scarves can easily affect the look of a turtleneck–minus the bondage. Bruno Cucinelli and Loro Piana make gorgeous scarves that are soooo soft—you won’t want to take them off!
    PS Diane has never liked her neck–even in her youth and always wore high collars, etc (except notably and happily in “Something’s Gotta Give!”). Agreed- she looks so much better in the airbrushed ad ,lying back (so no gravity pull), and in a lighter color than in the “real” life snapshot.
    Best,Sherrie

    • Hi Sherrie,
      I agree. I love the Michael Kors.
      That’s my taste.

    • Hi Sherrie,
      Thanks for the great scarf tips!! Can’t wait to check them out! Yes, you caught me trying to make a point…(obvious, airbrushing…) however we still stick to our guns that a black turtleneck can potentially be aging on some women! Anyway…you have to admit, we ALL have way too much black in our closets and how fun to be told to try something different! Love hearing your voice and wonderful tips here at Fabulousafter40!! Cheers!

  7. Another alternative to turtlenecks is a scarf. A scarf can hide a multitude of sins…lol

    • Yes, True….If you have a lot of very loose skin around your neck, then disguise it with a scarf. But for a smaller amount that gets pushed up by wearing a turtleneck -a cowl neck is a good alternative.