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The Best Fall Archetype: The ‘Sweater Man’

Let's get cozy.

Colin Farrell as Padraic in The Banshees of Inisherin
Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin. Image: Searchlight Pictures

The best of all months (yeah I said it), November, is here! That means it is time to brew some tea, sip some hot cocoa, and swaddle ourselves up in the biggest, chunkiest knitwear we can find while watching our favorite fall movies. 

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While we love supernatural autumnal classics like Practical Magic and The Witches of Eastwick that are all about the power of sisterhood and slaying both foes and lewks, it is time to turn our gaze upon one of our most treasured tropes: the sweater man. That’s right. I’m talking about lads in cardigans. The cableknit crew. Yes, a sweaty, glistening, barechested man has his appeal, but it’s fall now! Save those shirtless hunks for June. We love a man who knows how to dress appropriately for the weather! And we love the films that celebrate the changing of the season by parading a slew of well-wrapped men across our screens. 

So let’s take a look at some classic, and soon-to-be classic, Sweater Men movies and relish the cold weather that makes them possible. 

To Catch a Thief (1955)

Carey Grant in a striped sweater and red necktie in To Catch a Thief
Carey Grant in To Catch a Thief. Image: Paramount Pictures

The classic Hitchcock romantic thriller, To Catch a Thief has everything you want for a dark fall evening: intrigue, murder, and Carey Grant in an iconic striped sweater. Set on the French Riviera, it’s not the thick, chunky sweater of most fall movies, but it’s Carey freakin’ Grant. He basically invented the sweater man genre. Hell, he basically invented men as a genre. 

Knives Out (2019)

Chris Evans wears an Aran fisherman's sweater in Knives Out
Chris Evans in Knives Out. Image: Lionsgate

Chris Evans in Knives Out continued the cozy bad boy trend and took it to dizzying new heights. Not only was he a devious jerk in the Rian Johnson whodunnit, but his beautiful (if well-worn) fishermen’s sweater stole the show from a star studded cast that included Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, and Ana de Armas. His sweater is so worn because it’s full of secrets. Shhh.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal crouching in When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Image: Columbia Pictures

One of the best romantic comedies of all time (ALL TIME!), When Harry Met Sally has it all: a sharp script penned by the legendary Nora Ephron, an amazing supporting cast that includes Carrie Fisher, and a costume wardrobe comparable to none. Both Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are at their peak, their chemistry and banter sizzle, but more importantly – their sweaters are thicc and chunky. And there is just something about Billy Crystal with his little beard in a chunky sweater and dad jeans, not even Henry Cavill can compare!

The Lighthouse (2019)

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse. Image: A24

Dirty boys can rock a sweater too! And none get dirtier than Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two stranded lighthouse operators in Robert Eggers’ surreal period drama The Lighthouse. A film that is not for the faint of heart, Dafoe and Pattinson give incredible, no holds barred performances as the two men trapped together on a rocky island. There is even a disturbingly squelchy mermaid sex scene/dream sequence. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t staying warm! It’s a cold New England rock they are stuck on, and that means some deliciously thick wool sweaters to pair with their overalls and sea caps.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Jeff Bridges leaning against the bar in The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. Image: Universal Studios

Another staple of the dirtbag Sweater Man is Jeff Bridges as The Dude in the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski. The Dude is a man who is both supremely of and supremely outside of his locale in Los Angeles, California. He is a lazy, laid-back, Cali bum, and yet he wears his thick, out of season cardigan at all times. You know that sweater is full of sweat, you know he’s probably never washed it, and yet, you still want to wrap it around yourself and breathe deep. The Dude will abide.

Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

Ash with his mask and cape on in The Fantastic Mr Fox
Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) in The Fantastic Mr Fox. Image: 20th Century Fox

Wes Anderson’s stop motion classic, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, is full of gorgeous visuals, impeccable fall vibes, and cozy sweaters on many of it’s furry cast, but I wanted to give a special shout-out to the bravest boy of all: Mr. Fox’s son Ash. The family misfit, voiced by Jason Schwartzman, might not always see eye to eye with his dad but he boldly pairs his cardigan with a cape and a cozy sock mask. And for that, we salute him.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Colin Farrell as Padraic in The Banshees of Inisherin
Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin. Image: Searchlight Pictures

Currently in theaters now, The Banshees of Inisherin (written and directed by Martin McDonagh) is a gorgeous, darkly funny, and heartbreaking masterpiece about friendship, art, death, and despair. Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Barry Keoghan give outstanding (and I would argue Oscar-worthy) performances as three men, two former best friends and the town “gob,” living on a small Irish isle in 1923. But what I am here to talk about today are the sweaters. Farrell’s Padraic wears a succession of stunning sweaters, each woolier and cozier than the last. In fact, everyone in the film is costumed for peak comfiness (it is a cold Irish isle after all) and if I could make an entire film into a Fall Pinterest board, it would be this one. Just as I’m sure McDonagh intended.

If you have a favorite fall or sweater movie, share it in the comments!

(Image: Searchlight Pictures)

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Brittany Knupper
Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.

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