Friday, 13 February 2015

The Year of the Polo Neck

2015 is shaping up to be the year of the polo neck.

That’s the kind of statement usually more suited to the pages of fash-mags than this blog, but for once I’m ok with sounding slightly hyperbolic. Mainly because it’s closer to truth than over-exaggeration. Like crop tops - but slightly warmer - suddenly they’ve infiltrated libraries and cafes and pubs and (in my case whenever I’m home) rural villages, all with a pretty understated elegance. Recently The Guardian, in a fit of tongue-in-cheek, even deemed them one of the top items for making yourself ‘look interesting’.

Personally, I didn't realize that my choice to indulge in something warm and comfy and versatile was a conscious decision to present myself as ‘interesting’ (besides, daahlings, I’d hope all my outfits do that. Ahem.) It was more a mix of thinking, “I cycle everywhere and these tops stop me from freezing quite so much” and, “if I wear enough of them, maybe I’ll look as chic as Audrey Hepburn circa Funny Face” (other options for emulation include Lauren Bacall, Maggie Smith, Sophia Loren, Marlene Dietrich, Diane Keaton, Brigitte Bardot or Jane Birkin, depending on mood.)

They are having a moment though – popping up all over the place, whether that’s on another girl in my Troilus and Criseyde class (Criseyde definitely could have rocked a polo neck, if she hadn’t been so busy being a fourteenth century love interest and all) or strung out over my Instagram feed. So many people suddenly affirming their love for the polo neck - pairing them with anything from suede patchwork miniskirts to jeans.

I’m actually a polo neck convert. Used to hate the things. For years I've had plenty knocking around in my tops and jumpers drawer, but found them uncomfortably tight and scratchy around my neck. They were reserved for those days back at home when the temperature felt even colder indoors than out. However, suddenly they make sense. So full of potential and possibility (especially after getting rid of the too-tight-necked ones). Now I can wear all my summer clothes in really chilly temperatures – plus there’s the ease of the way they go with kilts/ black velvet trousers/ floaty tunics/ eighties' party dresses/ lashings of red lipstick and liquid eyeliner. They are pretty much the equivalent of a kitchen cupboard staple, in that: they go with nearly everything, you can always rely on them as a basic, and you often get taken unawares and are slightly saddened when suddenly they’re nowhere to be found (probably because they’re all in the ever-growing laundry pile you’ve been ignoring). 

Maybe part of the power is that they can suggest anything from geography teacher to forties screen siren. They run the gamut from demure to louche to pretty sexy, and they’re equally as easy to reach for on days when you’re feeling tired/ hungover/ ill as they are when you’re all sparky and alive with ideas, full of clarity for the day ahead. Besides, it’s still bloody cold at the moment, and anything to ease the shivering can only be good.

As I write this, I’m actually wearing the one pictured here – today paired with a silk striped shift dress and a vintage navy Jaeger cardigan, as well as the brown Chelsea boots also featured above. Sadly doesn’t quite have the same grandeur as sweeping through the Welsh hills, glittering in a green lurex 70s evening gown. But it’s perfect for a day sitting in a café with my laptop, a large coffee by my side and a long word doc in front of me, waiting to be edited. Maybe I’ll ‘look interesting’ while I type. Maybe I won’t. But to be honest, who cares? Today I’ve decided my polo-neck’s message is this: I’m a woman with work to do, and I’m going to do it well…

Everything I'm wearing is second hand, including my trusty Russell and Bromley men's boots, which are becoming ever-more battered as I wear them day in and day out. Thanks to my dad for the photos. 

By the way, I recently did an interview with the lovely author Siobhan Curham, who has a book for young women called 'True Face' coming out with Faber in April. I discussed everything from childhood dens to struggling to fit in at secondary school to my absolute love for conversation.  


mariafelicia magno said...

amazing pics

Hannah McManus said...

I love the photos! Also really interesting post, as you pointed out, it's really interesting how many different grounds the polo neck can cover, seems to be extremely versatile!
Hannah x

Closet Fashionista said...

Love these shots, especially that first one! You look amazing :D
HAha, that's so funny that they said to wear them to look 'interesting' when they're such a basic piece with an actual purpose (to keep us from freezing.)
I was the same way, I hated them because I felt like I was choking, but over the past couple years I've fallen back in love because they're so toasty!

KD said...

Wow, these are great pictures! Stunning.


Vix said...

Polo necks are fabulous. I lived in a skinny black one for most of the 1980s, permed hair tied in a pony tail, red lipstick and gold hoop earrings hoping to capture some of Sade's style but probably failing miserably!
Love yours with the mermaid-esque dress. stunning! xxx

Kay Montano said...

In the unlikely event of anyone needing further proof of the cyclical nature of fashion, let's reintroduce-the polo neck! The black polo neck was THE must-have of the mid-late 80's and even though there is some lofty fashion 'rule' that says that one is not supposed to wear things the second time around,I am again coveting/about to wear the black polo neck but this time around, it goes underneath a dress as opposed to above black leggings of short black skirt, the other two 80's staples (apart from hair gel obvs).

Melanie said...

Polo neck sounds much better than turtleneck, although I've always thought a polo neck was a turtleneck without the foldover part, which we also call a mock turtleneck... I can't keep up but
I've worn them forever and ever, mock and real, because they are warm and they are plain, which I adore, and they let the other clothing do the heavy lifting.
Your lurex gown is gorgeous.
I enjoyed your interview. I'm excited about your book!

Hannah said...

I LOVE these photos, particularly those first two! The lighting is stunning, and so dramatic! The first one seems kind of Florence + the Machine to me.

Also, I've started reading the Opposite of Loneliness, which you recommended a couple of weeks ago. I really like it! I get what you said about how her writing is good AND really relevant to young people. She has some beautiful turns of phrase. Thanks for the heads up on her!


Isn't it funny how certain styles come back in time/season/fashion. Admittedly, I believe I used to have a full colour run of polo necks, my favourites were charcoal and hunter green. They are how I generally view scarves, extremely versatile and for any occasion.
Also, congrats on the interview, I agree with your lifestyle thoughts on the "True Face" motto. :)

Ivana Split said...

I love polo necks as much as turtle necks. I can only stand cold weather with tons of clothes on me and as little skin possible showing (for practical not modest reasons). That way I can even love winter and appreciate its beauty...and not feel impatient for spring to arrive- that's something new for me, I've always been a summer kind of girl.

On other hand, the reasons why I love polo necks are not only practical. I think they look fantastic with statement necklaces...and I have quite a few of those (being into making jewelry for more than 10 years)

Your outfit is simply divine...I absolutely love that dress...and it's paired so well with those boots.

The scenery is magical...I love being outdoors and I love to see photographs taken in the nature and with natural light.

Carlota Antolin Vallespin said...

Oh!! I'm completely in love with your essence (first photo); it makes me think in medieval witches like Morgana. You really look like having enormous powers :)

My relationship with polo neck is pure love. I always loved them because they are elegant and the symbol of intellectuals. And, of course, they are also warm, useful at winter time.
But I also must say, sometime I feel lazy to wear them because they are so tight art the neck.... sometimes it feels like some kind of oppressive element haha

Kisses beauty!

Anonymous said...

Have found the secret to wearing polo necks successfully - statement necklaces! They form a perfect backdrop for my bling.

Lally said...

The poloneck is probably my favourite (and possibly only) wardrobe basic. I own hundreds of the things in an array of hues but each one provides a wonderful base for outfits during the chilly season. I love the idea that they make one look interesting, though I'm never sure if that illusion works. A close friend wrote her undergraduate thesis on 'intelligent dressing' with particular reference to how Susan Sontag used the polo-neck, very intriguing.

I love yours paired with the 70s frock, the backdrop is breathtaking too. XX

Grace Howard said...

2015 is most definitely the year of the polo neck! They're so versatile, perfect for the British winter and I also find them great for those days when I have bad skin or am just generally feeling sorry for myself and want to hide away in something cozy.
Love the pictures as well. Looks a lot like my home territory of the Yorkshire Dales, but I'm probably wrong!
Grace x

Nina Jordan said...

Saw you in London Fashion Week today and you looked amazing! Started to run to get a a picture of you and than I lost you and couldn't find you again :(

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