If imitation is the highest form of flattery, than we’re a pretty flattering bunch. Even in 2014, decades after their respective primes (and in many cases, decades after their deaths) it’s still the icons – the McQueens, the Redford’s, the Newman’s, the Caine’s, et al. that we look to for our sartorial cues. It’s these erstwhile icons that we return to time and time again when we’re citing everything from sneakers to suits to smirking glances. The cause and effect(s) of our rear-view vision are a topic for another time (don’t want to exhaust our bandwidth for this month too soon) but what’s most curious about this backwards perspective is the way in which certain venerable trends rise while others sink like a remake of Alfie.
What is it about bucket hats, shawl collar sweaters, and three-roll-two jackets that made them so popular, while ascots, cowboy hats, and spectator shoes never really caught on again? Sure, there’s the simple fact that most successfully resurrected styles are easy to wear, while those that remain in the past would be considered a bit too ostentatious for contemporary wear. But, what about the turtleneck then?
Last winter, it seemed like the turtleneck, which isn’t exactly a subtle sweater, was suddenly and inexplicably popular again for the first time in years. I suppose it would be unfair to say inexplicably, as the turtlenecks of 2013 were not the turtlenecks we were used to over the past couple decades. No, these slimmer, sleeker knits were closer to the turtlenecks that McQueen and Caine wore back in the sixties rather than the chunky, borderline tacky, turtlenecks that infiltrated suburban style throughout the eighties and nineties. Thanks to our obsession with these black-and-white photos from fifty years ago when “all men dressed well” (or at least enough that we can comfortably fool ourselves into actually believing that platitude), the McQueen/Caine style of turtleneck, best worn under a sportcoat or paired with wool trousers, is now prevalent once again. And we’re all better for it.