Closet Constructor: “Eclectic Grandpa”? Grow Up and Just Wear a Tennis Sweater Already.

The secret to winning spring style? Ignoring trends and embracing knitwear.

March 8, 2024 11:29 am
A collage of men's clothing in Polaroid photos. Today we take a look at the "eclectic grandpa" trend.
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Welcome to Closet Constructor, a weekly series where I (a style editor) help you (a well-meaning person who likes clothes) discover new, interesting and affordable ways to really start dressin’.

This is my truth: I’m sick of all the “cores.” I’m referring to the abundance of fashion microtrends exacerbated by social media’s insatiable thirst for content and an objectively fried consumer cycle that relies on a new obsession of the week to drop-ship T-shirts to 13-year-olds via a TikTok shop. You’ve surely seen the suffix around — it’s a big enough cultural deal that it’s been analyzed to death (including by yours truly): Gorpcore, cottagecore, westerncore. You get it.

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While the exhaustive labeling has become mind-numbingly dull (is that vintage Duffer hoodie really young-Jamie-Oliver-core? Is it?) and, unlike the more universal subcultures of yore, these microtrends seem much more intent on delivering three to six grid posts than visually identifying individuals with their skater/straightedge/scholastic brethren, it’s not so much the actual content of these trends that I take issue with.

I’m as much for ’90s soccer kits as the next bloke. Rather, it’s the increasingly common compulsion to proselytize an unconsidered vibe spawned from some 19-year-old’s mood-board carousel as a bona fide aesthetic direction for your closet that strikes me as a problem. Doing so ignores the fundamentals of what it means to have good style and demands a level of consumption that’s simply unsustainable.

Brands like Stüssy are ignoring trends for timeless, well-adjusted staples.
Brands like Stüssy are ignoring trends for timeless, well-adjusted staples.

I bring up the core conundrum not because I’m put off by the whole ordeal and simply want to rant about it, but because it provides a valuable example of how you actually should shop, one that I’m doubling down on in this week’s Closet Constructor. (And because I want to rant. Sue me.) Sticking to timeless pieces that already work with everything in your closet — things that you almost certainly have, like dark denim, neutral tees, a trusty Oxford — keeps you from blowing a bagioli each time the new core rolls around, and insulates you from dumb, trend-driven looks that’ll end up outdated in T-minus two months.

This is not to suggest that said ‘fit has to be boring. A mohair tennis sweater and cheeky slip-ons make up the perfect cool guy outfit, from my lips to God’s ears, with lowkey grails from the likes of Stüssy and Vinny’s both totally versatile and pushing the bleeding edge of menswear to swag levels previously unknown.

As always, I’ll remind you that fit is king ’round these parts — relaxed pleated chinos provide a perfect base for an impressively slouchy knit, while a slim-fitting polo eliminates any potential layering problems — as are accessories, which allow you to display your allegiances to brands and aesthetics without spilling over into cringecore. You heard it here first: if you don’t already have a pair of lug sole loafers, it’s time to invest.

I’ll leave you with this. A similar look was recently identified by the folks over at G*ntlemen’s Q*arterly as “eclectic grandpa” and, alternatively, “grandpa-core.” I find this not only insulting to abuelo (the name implies a specific breed of unique grandfather, whereas all pop-pops are special in their own weird, Civil War re-enactment kinds of ways) but confirmation that I am totally right in suggesting that this whole cores thing has perhaps gone too far and that dressing like Paul Newman will never not be the answer.

I guess my point here is that, through all of the core noise, you should be wearing a sick-ass mohair sweater with some big ol’ chinos and lug sole loafers this weekend. You can call it what you want. I will call it your new prerogative for spring. Cheers to the weekend, mis amigos.

Thoughts? Comments? Queries on how to pick out the perfect pair of socks? Email me your questions and concerns at

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