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The roll neckline is a closely cropped collar which fits snugly against the neck. The neckline is fashioned from a tube of material, which is typically worn folded over. It often appears to stand up around or against the neck, completely covering it.
In the United States this type of neckline is also referred to as a turtle neck. It has a variety of names in other countries as well. For example, in the United Kingdom it is referred to as a polo neck, and in Australia it is called a skivvy. While the reference may be different, the garment, regardless of its continent, remains the same.
Originally the roll neckline or collared garment was made from a heavier, sweater-like material and favored by dockworkers and seamen. The hearty combed cotton provided warmth for the wearer. Over the years, the garment became more popular in a jersey knit, which was often worn under sweaters by both men and women
It was the English playwright Noel Coward, in the 1920s, who brought the roll neckline into the height of fashion for men. Not only was he a talented writer, but he also was a singer and actor. He was considered to be quite a trendsetter, so when he donned the roll neckline the masses followed.
In the 1950s and then again in the 1980s, the roll neckline, or the turtle neck as it became more commonly known, saw a rise in popularity as part of a trend called the “preppy look.” In both eras, this look focused on a neat, pressed appearance. Garments featuring the roll neckline were worn under shirts and sweaters, and men often wore them with a sport jacket. This look gave a man an image of being dressed up without necessitating wearing a tie.
A mock turtle neck is a similar style that give the appearance of a turtle neck. This garment has the same turned-down collar look that a traditional roll neckline does, but the mock turtle neck has both ends of the tube stitched securely at the neckline. This keeps the folded-over tube in place, affording those wearing it a neater appearance.
The roll neckline has continued its trend of popularity since it first appeared at the turn of the 20th century. The style remains appropriate for all ages and can dressed up or down. Men and women alike find turtle neck shirts and sweaters a common piece in their wardrobes.