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Polo Neck, Funnel Neck, Cowl Neck? Variations on the Wintry Neckline



At the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin someone asked me, what was the difference between a cowl neck (which one of my patterns featured) and a polo neck. I struggled to provide a coherent answer then. But I've been thinking about it since, and will try and articulate the difference. Bearing in mind that fashion is subjective and these aren't strict definitions as such, here is what I mean by the various terms for high necklines when I use them in my patterns:

At its most straightforward is the Polo Neck (or, 'Polar Neck' in parts of Ireland!), and more commonly referred to as the Turtleneck in the USA. This style refers to a fitted high neckline. It is at least long enough to cover the neck (otherwise it's a mock-neck), and is commonly worn folded over as shown in the top photo.


A Cowl Neck, on the other hand, is a much looser fitting, cascading high neckline.  I do not actually have any garments to show that illustrate the truly open cowl neck, as I tend to like my necklines tighter to guard against the wind. But here in the second photo you can see that the fabric around the neck sits considerably more relaxed, and sort of ripples down rather than folding over. In my view, these features distinguish the Cowl Neck from the Polo Neck. 


Now, what about the Funnel Neck? This too refers to a relaxed high neckline. And I would venture to say that many, if not most, use this term interchangeably with Cowl Neck. However if a distinction had to be made, it would be that a Funnel Neck is designed to stand up, as shown in this photo, rather than cascade down.  


There are other varieties of the wintry neckline. The Mockneck - of which, alas, I have no examples - has already been mentioned. And in a similar vein, there is the Raised Boatneck. 

If you know of other raised neckline styles, feel free to chime in. If you are like me and often can't be bothered with a scarf but like your neck covered, they are all pretty fabulous!