Boys' Sweaters: Turtle-necks

Figure 1.--Turtle-neck sweaters were very popular in the 1960s and 70s, but the origins are much earlier.

A turtle-neck sweater is one of many types of pull-over sweaters. I beliece the style originated in the 19th Century and was particularly popular with mariners. There was a revival of the turtle-neck in the 1960s-70s. The turtle-neck design was also used for knitted shirts.


We are not sure when and wehere the term "turtle-neck" sweater was first used. We noticed the term "roll-nevk" bering used in the United States at the turn of the 20th century.


I am not sure just when sweaters first appeared. I do not remember seeing then in paintings or photographs until the late 19th Century. This may reflect, however, the greater availability of photographic images in the late 19th Century. Some historical references suggest that knitted garments were being manufatured well before this time which evolved into the modern sweater. Warm wool garments were being knitted in the Channel Island during the 17th Century which seafarers found to be of great utility, These garments may have been the origins of the modern sweater and I believe they were originally pullovers. We are also not sure when turtle-neck sweaters first appeared. The earliest we have noted them so far is the Sears 1902 catalog. Sears referred to them as "roll-neck" sweaters and offered different styles. for boys 8-15 years of age. We have a few photographic images arcived at about the same time. An example here is the Bartle brothers in Canada.


The term derives from a garment originally worn by adults during erercising to induce sweating and reduce weight or for warmth. They are also referred to as jumpers in the UK and former British colonies


V-neck: Some pullover sweaters are made with a "V" front. These are generally designed to be worn with ties, the "V" allowing the ties to be seen. Most school sweaters are "V" neck.
Crew neck: A crew neck sweater is one where the neck opening is tight against the neck. I'm not sure what the derivation of the term was. Perhaps it was worn by boat or rowing crews.
Turtle neck: A turtle neck sweater is one with extra material at the neck extending the sweater to cover the entire neck area.


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Created: May 20, 1999
Last updated: 9:50 PM 10/5/2005