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We’ll be straight with you; there’s technically no such thing as a “fall movie“. The genre exists only at best as a vague concept, a vibe, rather than as an actual Academy Award category. And by extension of logic, “fall movie looks” are a non-existent generalization of whatever it is that costume directors decide to stick actors in, a gaggle of garms that, unlike classic fall style, is unmoored by any tangible sartorial distinction.
But. Any average Joe who’s seen Practical Magic should be able to grasp that these qualifying films are marked by a set of seasonal plot markers, a sense of warmth or coziness that tends to be reflected in the plot, whether it’s a stirring romantic comedy or classic horror that has you seeking refuge under the covers. It’s a real “you’ll know it when you see it” situation: the abundance of visual cues at work, from the obvious falling of leaves to the more subtle factors like autumnal color-grading or availability of Count Chocula cereal, often help suss out whenever your Friday night flick really counts as a fall movie.
Or, you could just check out the aforementioned get-ups the characters wear. From classically fall fabrics to get-ups that just evoke “pumpkin patch”, there’s a catalog of on-screen outfits that are as autumnal as it gets. Billy Crystal’s proto-f*ckboy cable knit? Robin Williams’ therapistcore in Good Will Hunting (or Dead Poet’s Society, for that mater)? These iconic costumes are a telltale sign, and offer some pretty excellent inspiration not just for Halloween, but for the next few months writ large.
Below, we’ve rounded up a variety of iconic fall movies and the looks you should do your best to steal. With a little help from our favorite brands — L.L. Bean, Alex Mill and more — you’ll be looking straight autumnal A-lister in no time. Below, how to recreate the best fall movie looks of all time.
Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally
Before there was Chris Evans’ oft-discussed fisherman sweater in Knives Out, there was Billy Crystal’s chunky cable-knit turtleneck in When Harry Met Sally. Despite the film being shot and set in 1989, (most) of the fashions continue to endure, with Crystal’s knitwear in the film proving most capable of transcending time.
Yet it’s often the 80’s detailing of the film’s clothing that make them so attractive, like the oversized silhouette and voluminous sleeves of the aforementioned turtleneck, both lending a deeper sense of coziness. When paired with simple straight medium-wash jeans and what appear to be Reebok Club C sneakers, it’s a look that today would read ever-so-slightly reminiscent of the 80s, without looking dated.
Mr. Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox
Why should you limit yourself to the sartorial sensibilities of real people when characters like Mr. Fox display the full range of fashionable and achievable fall movie looks, like this fully corduroy suit. Rendered in a mustard-y brown color, the suit practically epitomizes fall, blending in with the rich autumnal tones of Mr. Fox’s surroundings.
You might think a suit, even if it is corduroy one, is unnecessary right now, but Mr. Fox had no real reason for donning his, did he? So why should you? Plus, when you’re not wearing these pieces together, by all means embrace them as separates.
Ryan O’Neal in Love Story
Yes, Love Story is a movie about love (surprise), but it’s also inadvertently a movie about great coats, namely the shearling beauty that Ryan O’Neal frequently sports throughout. The film takes place on the idyllic Harvard campus, with the characters outfitted in collegiate fashions of the 1970s.
When he’s not enveloping himself in luxurious shearling, O’Neal sports a variety of chunky knits layered over polos, classic chinos and even more enviable outerwear, like a Glen plaid blazer and reversible mac coat. Because the looks are so timeless, they make for easy recreation and consist of pieces not only conducive to this fall, but all falls to come.
John Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby
Sure, John Cassavetes’ character Guy may have joined a satanic cult and impregnated his wife with demon seed, all in the name of furthering his stagnant acting career, but at least he never sacrificed his style in the process (just his unborn child). As Cassavetes ingratiates himself with satanists and gaslights his wife, he dons a series of looks so understated you could miss them altogether.
He wore everything from tailored olive corduroys to navy raglan sweatshirts, fuzzy textural sweaters and elegant turtlenecks. Similar to O’Neal in Love Story, Cassavetes teaches a master class in how to pull off the classics.
Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting
Sean Maguire knows a good cardigan. Despite meaning to appear as slightly unkempt or schleppy, Williams’ wardrobe in the film exudes that warm and welcoming vibe often distinct to professorial types. Always patterned, his cardigans are of the “grandpa” style ubiquitous in the 90s, but they’re surprisingly on trend today.
Williams’ character didn’t just throw these cardigans over a tee or simple shirt, though — instead he deftly mixes patterns by pairing the sweaters with subtly printed shirts. When finished with simple black cords and a fisherman cap.
Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore
Another Wes Anderson film, another Wes Anderson suit, this one from the director’s second film, Rushmore. Jason Schwartzman’s character, the teen Max Fischer, spends most of the film in his school uniform (a look worth recreating in and of itself) but it isn’t until the end of the film that the suit in question makes an appearance: a velvety jewel tone green two-piece.
Certainly not the most practical outfit for a casual fall day, it’s too good not to recreate, albeit in a more conceptual manner. Whether you manage to source a pair of pants or jacket in a similar rich green and textural fabric (say corduroy), pairing either with the more conspicuous elements of Max’s outfit, like the camel-colored button-down or Adidas sneakers, will lend the overall same effect, just in a more subtle fashion. Of course, the red beret is entirely optional.
We’ve put in the work researching, reviewing and rounding up all the shirts, jackets, shoes and accessories you’ll need this season, whether it’s for yourself or for gifting purposes. Sign up here for weekly style inspo direct to your inbox.