Right now, we all want any excuse to choose the relaxed options in our wardrobes. Less loafers, more slippers. A cardigan instead of a jacket. And, lately, it’s about leaving the turtleneck behind for its arguably more versatile (and even superior) cousin: the mock neck. They’ve suddenly popped back into view, with a number of brands carrying them this season, and I, for one, am not mad.
To understand this sudden interest, we have to (unfortunately) look at what’s happening outside our closets. The fact of the matter is how we dress has changed over the past year. Those of us who are into clothes have been forced to hunt for pieces that sit on the crossroads of relaxed and stylish. Thus, the mock neck snuck back into our lives.
The shorter neckline strikes a comfortable balance between casual crewnecks and more formal turtlenecks. But for all their ease, mock neck sweaters prove to be a polarizing garment. Do you dress it up? Or is it purely casual? Does it make me look like Steve Jobs? Adam Rogers, co-founder of menswear brand Adret, says the answer is simple: “Mock necks are the bridges that close the gap between being overly put-together or foolishly underdressed. They are an unassuming sophistication.” In other words, less Steve Jobs and more Steve McQueen.
Whether your thing is tailored trousers or well-worn jeans, mock necks are able to make an outfit look effortless and easy. It’s in this versatility where the appeal lies. Mock necks are more than able to stand on their own. Michael Murphy’s Yale Pollack in Manhattan provides a great example, wearing a loose cotton jersey iteration with slim 5-pocket jeans whilst strolling the city streets. Moreover, they are also underrated MVPs of layering, working brilliantly underneath checked over-shirts and relaxed tailoring. Turn to an episode of Seinfeld and you might catch Jerry wearing a dark brown checked sports jacket atop a black mock neck for a dinner date that, inevitably, ends poorly.
That’s the beauty of mock necks—they can play the field and appeal to all sides. The next time you’re a bit stumped between looking put together or relaxed when you go out for coffee, remember there’s a middle ground. Here are eight of the best to buy now.