The Danish have a word, “hygge”—pronounced hoo-guh and derived from a 16th-century term, “hugga,” which is related to the English word “hug”—that means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” The term gained notoriety in 2016 amidst a fraught political climate, and has since come to be even more vital as that climate remains, um, heated. (“Hygge” hit a peak as a search term on Google in November 2016, and then after a dip in the middle of the year skyrocketed in interest again this fall.) It’s a lifestyle philosophy that promotes tea, sheepskin rugs, and, of course, heavy sweaters, under the notion that indulging in those tools of comfort will result in a happier, healthier life.
I believe male fashion officially turned toward hygge on October 26, 2015.
There Drake stood, in the middle of a sparse fuschia-lit cube, swaying back and forth, verklempt over the notion that a former lover’s life might actually continue in his wake. Despite all that, the music video for “Hotline Bling” was undeniably charming, thanks in large part to Drake’s wardrobe: a melange of fleece sweatpants, puffer jackets, hoodies, Timbs, and most importantly of all, a chunky turtleneck sweater.
It was a nod to Drake’s past, but also to the future—a future of coziness, which achieved maximum capacity in 2017. On both red carpets and in movies and on TV, the sweater was everywhere, serving as the centerpiece of so many actors’ outfits and affirming that we are in an era of peak coziness. We yearn for these comforts in our lives—humans need thunder shirts too—and those desires have been reflected in this fashion trend. Which is all to say: 2017 had a stunning amount of glorious sweaters.
Because it would be inappropriate and take way too long to discuss each and every male celebrity sweater of this year—although Penguin Random House, if you’re handing out book deals for Christmas, hit me up—I’ve decided to narrow down the list by handing out some accolades.
Most Valuable Sweater: The turtleneck under a suit jacket
In general, 2017 was a big year for sweaters, but more specifically it was a big year for dudes wearing turtleneck sweaters under suit jackets. This was the go-to outfit for any male celebrity who wanted to say, “Why yes, I do sit on my couch at home and listen to smooth jazz while luxuriously petting a Persian cat.” It was adopted by everyone from the Baby Driver himself, Ansel Elgort, to Miles Teller to Chris Paul to Alexander Skarsgard to my one true dad, Alex Rodriguez. Which, speaking of...
Best J.Lo Adjacent Turtlenecks: Alex Rodriguez
No one’s neck was covered more often in 2017 than A-Rod’s. Do you even remember what A-Rod’s neck looks like? I don’t. Here he is turtlenecked on Jimmy Kimmel Live!; here he is turtlenecked with Bruce Springsteen; here he is turtlenecked running the heck out of A-Rod Corp, a company whose purpose I still haven't figured out; here is he turtlenecked in Vanity Fair next to J.Lo, who’s holding a dumbbell for some reason; and here he is turtlenecked in a badly Photoshopped promotional photo for the University of Miami’s 2017 fall commencement ceremony:
Why is he posing like that? Because he can, dammit.
If you told me back in 2010—when Alex was taking mad PEDs and hitting dingers out of Yankee Stadium left and right—that he would retire, become a beloved sports analyst, and start dating Jennifer Lopez, I would’ve been like, “HE’S ONLY WEARING TURTLENECKS?!”
Most Important World War II Movie That’s Actually About Sweaters: Dunkirk
You, a fool: Christopher Nolan has truly redefined the moviegoing experience.
Me, a genius: Look at all these dang sweaters!
For real, though: The merits of Dunkirk are highly debatable, but it was an astoundingly prolific showcase for good knits. I don’t think it’s possible to pick a favorite. You’ve got the merlot roll-neck:
The good boy George in the perfect good boy sweater vest:
Kenneth Branagh looking like a Scandinavian fisherman:
Tom Hardy with the full chunky—which we really didn’t get to see until he lit a fighter jet on fire, by which I mean it was a very cool sweater reveal:
And Mark Rylance (no further description necessary):
For all of you suckers who thought Dunkirk didn’t have a classic Christopher Nolan twist—wrong. The twist is that the Nazis were actually defeated by lambswool.
Best “Holy Shit, We’re Already in Love With You, Please Chill” Sweater: Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet (tie)
Call Me by Your Name costars Hammer and Chalamet have rapidly ascended the heartthrob ranks in 2017. Respectively, they were gloriously woke/relentlessly meme-able and counterintuitively appealing; they starred in the most romantic movie of the year; they had Tumblrs made specifically for them. I would contend that wearing cable knit sweaters with sexy holes in the armpits—or in Chalamet’s case, super itchy-looking wool—is too much. We’re all already on board; we don’t need to also associate them with porridge and Douglas fir–scented candles that are just a tad naughty. But hey, you do what you want when you’re popping.
Most Effective Cry for Help Sweater: Jon Hamm
Guys, we really gotta save Jon Hamm. My guy’s out here doing H&R Block commercials and looking like R&B Dr. Who. The Don Draper cardigan days feel so far gone.
Most Royal Sweater: Philip’s in Season 2 of The Crown
Say what you want about Philip’s beard—“It looks like it smells bad” and “Why can you see through it?!” are both satisfactory assessments—this guy delivered a Christmas address on a boat near Antarctica in an ELITE FIT. Is that houndstooth?!
I do not watch The Crown, but I do know that if you say the name “Philip” to people who do, they start yelling at you. And I guess I get it—he’s a guy who has to carry around a note that says “Remember you have a family” to, uh, remember he has a family. But whatever. As far as I’m concerned this sweater absolves all things.
Sweater That Best Argued for the End of the Chris Wars: Chris Pine’s in Wonder Woman
I mean, the war’s over, right? What are we supposed to do, pretend that Thor wore a fisherman sweater in Ragnarok? Ignore the fact Chris Evans isn’t man enough to throw this on in Infinity War? (THE BEARD IS NOT ENOUGH, SIR.)
I know the Chris Wars are supposed to be cyclical, but this was Pine’s V-Day.
Most Jeff Goldblum Sweater Worn by Jeff Goldblum: This one in GQ