Reader Jeanne Nelson comments, simply:
“From the New York Times, 12 December 2103:
“But if Mr. [Colin] Wilson was no Angry Young Man, with his lush Romantic hair and roll-neck sweaters he more than looked the part.”
I gather she is suggesting as a NOOB roll-neck sweater, a phrase with which I’m not really familiar, though having read it I get the idea.The Oxford English Dictionart defines roll-neck as “A high loosely turned-over collar on a garment; a garment which has such a collar.” The first citation (from 1897) is from the Washington Post, but everything after 1950 is from Great Britain, including this from a 1977 “Time Out” advert: “Former male model—but more the jeans and rollneck type.”
The New York Times obituary of Colin Wilson helpfully provides this cozy photo of the author in roll-neck, with his wife, Joy:
I am familiar with “turtle-neck,” which the OED defines identifies as “orig.” American and defines as: “A close-fitting roll or band collar, now usu. one intermediate in height between a crew-neck and a polo-neck.” The first citation is an 1895 Montgomery Ward Catalog: “The Turtle Neck Shirt or Sweater, double from waist up, one of the most desirable garments ever invented for cold-weather shooting.” Two years later, 15-year-old Franklin Delano Roosevelt writes home from Groton School: “I should very much like a red turtle neck sweater for skating and coasting.”
P.G. Wodehouse, who spent many years in the U.S., may have carried the term to Britain, writing in 1946, “He dresses like a tramp-cyclist, affecting turtle-neck sweaters and grey flannel bags.”
The New York Times has used the expression “roll-neck” or “rollneck” (the hyphen comes and goes) about fifty times in its history, including this from a fashion piece in 2009: “Remember when the cast of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ modeled in the J. Crew catalog and suddenly everyone was wearing those rollneck sweaters?”
By contrast, “turtle neck” or “turtleneck” have appeared some 4,000 times, including this sentence, just a couple of weeks ago, from an interview with Will Ferrell’s anchorman character, Ron Burgundy: “Dapper in a glen plaid polyester suit, brown ribbed turtleneck and dark-green leather jacket, Mr. Burgundy strode into the store, stopping to hold aloft some merchandise.”
Here’s the Times’ photo of Burgundy:
To me, this looks awfully close to Colin Wilson’s roll-neck. My sense is that originally, turtleneck referred to collars that were folded-over snugly and more or less low, and roll-neck to those that were folded over loosely and more or less high. I sense, further, that in the U.S., that roll-neck is a subset of the larger category turtleneck, and that roll-neck is in fairly wide use in the U.K., but is common in the U.S. only in fashion circles.
But I await the judgment of those who know better.