Men's style: polo necks

Lynnette Peck / 30 October 2015

The stylish high-necked jumper is great for layers of warmth in autumn and winter. Find out how to wear it well with our expert tips.



The polo neck, also known as a roll neck or turtleneck is basically a jumper with a round, close-fitting, high collar that folds over and covers (hides) the neck.

Sailors and athletes first wore polo necks in the 19th century, but by the 1950s artists and intellectuals had commandeered the black polo neck into a ‘beatnik’ look. Since then it has been seen as an acceptable alternative to a shirt and tie.

Autumn is the perfect time to consider investing in a polo neck.

Start off with a fine gauge version, and progress to a chunkier knitted one by December.

A good look for winter 2015 is to wear a merino wool polo neck in either grey or navy under a well-cut blazer in the same shade. This look is totally chic, classic and comfortable.

If feeling brave and wishing to keep up with current fashion trends then go for a polo neck in burgundy or khaki green.

Photographer Mark Mather (markmather.co.uk) is a big fan of wearing polo necks and says: “My favourite polo neck is a John Smedley one in grey that I team with my All Saints leather shirt. Call it a nod to my teenage years growing up in the 1970s.”

Other outfit suggestions that work are wearing a black polo neck with black trousers and black shoes; a polo neck under a checked shirt and paired with jeans; wearing a thin-knit polo neck under a dinner or three-piece suit.

As the legendary US designer Halston once said: “Turtlenecks are the most comfortable garment you can wear. They move with the body and they are flattering. You can go anywhere you like in one.”

What the fashion expert says about men’s polo necks

Eric Musgrave, menswear writer and author of Sharp Suits      

“Polo necks are a much-overlooked style favourite in my view.

“The two major considerations when wearing a polo neck are fibre and thickness (or gauge) of the knitting.

“Cotton, if lightweight, can work in all but the warmest months; wool or cashmere should be saved just for the winter months.

“A fine gauge cotton polo neck can even be worn under an open-neck shirt for a cosy and casual look.

“Heavier and woollier options can work under overcoats, outer jackets, tailored jackets and other knitwear like cardigans, as well as on their own. 

“The one downside is that one’s temperature cannot be regulated in a polo neck - and they are very warm.”

Top five polo necks to buy this autumn

1. John Smedley Belvoir, £139 johnsmedley.com

2. Peter Werth Battledean Cut Roll Neck Jumper, £55, houseoffraser.co.uk

3. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill One Valley Polo Neck Jumper, £15 (reduced from £30), ewm.co.uk

4. ASOS Roll Neck Jumper with Cable in Merino Wool Mix, £32, asos.com

5. Charles Tyrwhitt Merino Roll Neck Jumper, £49.95 (reduced from £100), ctshirts.co.uk

Please note: website addresses and prices were correct at the time of publication.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.