High Fashion: A Good Face And A Black Turtleneck

High Fashion - A Good Face And A Black Turtleneck

“I’m not checking that bag!” my Nana would exclaim to the airline attendant, “My face is in there.”

My Nana was frugal but her face was her luxury item and her spending inelastic on all items of skin care. A veteran traveller, she had her routines. “Unpacking her face” was ritualistic. She would lay out the hotel washcloth upon which she would arrange her creams, brushes, liners, mascara and tweezers.

I loved watching Nana put on her face. Not one item was wasted. Lipsticks worn down to the metal were fair game as she dipped her lip-brush into the cylinder and extracted a full application working first the outline of the lips then filling in the rest.

Dedicated to taking care of her skin, she was the Zen master of evening cream applications.  This was her personal care meditation: slathering on the Ponds Cold Cream (I love this stuff too) removing her day from her face, gently letting go of her tension.

Katherine HepburnNext, the Elizabeth Arden evening cream was applied with a process that I’m convinced effectively smoothed away her wrinkles until she closed her eyes for good at age 94.  With the back of her hands she would stroke her neck from collarbone to chin UP, UP, UP. She would then make the “victory sign” with her pointer and middle finger and flip her hands over, palms faced down, middle finger over her chin pointer under and stroke her jowls UP, UP, UP toward her ears.  Next finally, she would take those same two victory fingers and stroke her brow in the same UP, UP, UP direction.

Nana believed elegance and fashion were in the face.  Great skin and good lipstick, finished off with a show-stopping pair of glasses was the ultimate high fashion statement. A sleek minimalist outfit was all that was needed to finish off the look. A no-nonsense outfit could be worn repeatedly, and heads would turn if the face was just right.   She emulated the simplicity of her beloved Audrey and Kate Hepburn with the uniform of black turtlenecks, tailored “slacks” and comfortable shoes.

gwyneth paltrowToday this laid-back elegance is still a showstopper.  Kate Middleton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda are just a few of the women whose simplicity makes us want to pair down our wardrobe to  just the basics.  Great jeans are the slacks of yesterday but the rest of “the look” remains. A smart looking black turtleneck and a hip pair of sneakers are all that’s needed to make the statement of confident elegance.

So what’s with those black turtlenecks? They seem to be everywhere today and they make a huge statement.  You can even follow the photos of women in black turtlenecks on Pinterest https://pinterest.com/susanam4500/the-black-turtleneck/

Not only do we remember the movie stars like Audrey Hepburn wearing hers as Holly Go-lightly, but also the artists and French existentialists wearing theirs, the Beatles, the beatniks, Twiggy in her turtle neck and the poets– not to mention Andy Warhol and the not-so-stylish Steve Jobs.  It feels retro and smart to pull one on. That simple black turtle carries a high IQ rating over it’s long history saying “I don’t have to be a slave to fashion, sure you can look at me, but you’re really going to want to listen to me” It’s a backdrop that allows your personality to shine through.

Is a turtleneck for BA50’s even possible to wear given our unpredictable hot flashes?  Yes it is. If you are a victim of raging waves of flashes – best not to wear the high collar – you can wear a mock collar. You can also wear a sleeveless turtle to manage your impossible furnace.

So don your turtle and rock out with Gwyneth in Glee singing “Forget You.” Ok, she’s got the kilt but it’s the black turtle that I’m talking about. http://insidetv.ew.com/2010/11/12/glee-gwyneth-paltrow-forget-you/

Kate Middleton TurtleneckAnd what about channeling Kate Middleton, apparently she’s embraced the turtleneck and has been seen shopping at the local markets wearing the “look.”

And let’s not forget the woman who gave us reason to laugh and dress well simultaneously, our beloved Nora Ephron who believed “a woman can never own enough black turtlenecks”  from her book I Feel Bad About My Neck.   She was adamant about women over 50 wearing the turtleneck.  “Our faces are lies, and our necks are the truth — You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if it had a neck.”

So whether you’re after high fashion, simplicity or elegance, we’re giving a thumbs up to well cared-for skin, followed by a black turtleneck shopping spree. Finally, a shopping list that won’t put a hole in your pocketbook.




Diane Keaton











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High Fashion: A Good Face And A Black Turtleneck was last modified: by


Felice Shapiro

Felice Shapiro Felice Shapiro loves figuring out what's next. Felice writes with honesty and humor about real life events, romance, tragedy, reinvention and family not to mention — fashion, beauty & travel. As a serial entrepreneur in the publishing space, she launched Betterafter50.com to meet the needs of women entering their next phase at 50. Inspired and armed with her love of publishing, writing, start-ups and women’s issues, Shapiro launched an online magazine for 50-something women to share personal stories, successes and relevant issues. She is proud of BA50 which is in its 4th year and has over 7 million unique visitors. 

  6 comments for “High Fashion: A Good Face And A Black Turtleneck

  1. Joanne
    March 26, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Black turtlenecks have always been the classic piece that are the center of my wardrobe!

  2. Cathy Chester
    March 26, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Loved this, Felice, because I live it. My grandmother told me never to leave the house with at least applying some lipstick. She used Pond’s Cold Cream each night. When she left us at age 79 she didn’t have one wrinkle.

    Kate and Audrey are my role models (I mean fashion wise. I WISH I could wear clothes as effortlessly as they did) so I can relate. Turtlenecks are my clothing of choice; I have them in every color. Of course black is my faves.

    Great post, Felice. I miss Audrey, Kate and, of course, Nora. Thanks for bringing them back to me.

  3. March 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I feel like putting on my black turtleneck today in solidarity. Great article!

  4. March 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I love black turtlenecks! Navy too. They’re all I wear in the winter season. I also found I stopped getting colds all the time once I started wearing them – they keep me toasty warm.

    • Jaice
      March 27, 2014 at 9:42 am

      I live in turtlenecks all winter, which goes long where I live. When my neck is cold I’m chilled to my core. My daughters never wear them, but T-necks are the best; simple, warm, elegant too.

  5. Meec
    April 2, 2014 at 8:08 am

    I rock the black turtleneck occasionally, but prefer my three trusty cashmere sweaters in oatmeal, cream and marle grey as well as an assortment of about 10 ribbed ones 🙂

    Jeans, black/dark grey slacks and a tweed jacket over a V-neck sweater ( or sometimes a knit argyle vest ) complete the ensemble and then I’m ready for a winter night out.

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