Adam Sandler has definitely always been kind of hot, right?
Remember that scene in Happy Gilmore when he berated a golf ball for five minutes while wearing blueberry colored pants and a massive Bruins jersey? Or his rendition of “Holiday” in The Wedding Singer? (That mullet! That iridescent red suit!). His sad man aesthetic in Punch Drunk Love also struck an especial chord with early-aughts me.
Sandler’s style definitely plays a role in his particular brand of schlub-dad sex appeal. He owns so many pairs of mid-calf-grazing basketball shorts it launched an investigation at BuzzFeed. Still, I was unprepared for the sartorial incursion that his character Howard Ratner puts forth in Uncut Gems, and I’m compelled to make the case that his Soprano’s-style leather shirt-jacket is 2020’s most unlikely aesthetic hero.
In trying to pinpoint why I was so taken with Ratner’s borderline offensive fashion choices, I keep coming back to the word “sincerity.” When he wears a Ferragamo logo belt in tandem with Ferragamo loafers, it’s not a ploy to keep up with the logo-mania that currently plagues us; it’s a palpably sincere attempt at dressing in a way he thinks will summon respect and, of course, sales.
If “palpably sincere” is the thread that holds Ratner’s clothes together, his going-out top is the final stitch. In one particularly resonant scene, Ratner meets his younger, hotter, smarter, girlfriend (played remarkably by Julia Fox) at 1Oak, wearing an ensemble that not even the signature red glow of the club could obscure. Ratner, in his pink button down and double pleat pants, resembles an actual salmon swimming upstream in a river of oversized hoodies and sweats. It’s a brilliant, albeit unintentional, reminder that it’s OK–even admirable–to try.
Encouraged by this open display of sartorial effort, I decided to dabble in a little sincerity of my own. Below, three extremely sincere Uncut Gems-inspired outfits, for your consideration.
My reflection mirrored a harsh reality back at me when I realized I had chosen an outfit that was a carbon copy of my father in 1985 (undone buttons and all). In truth, this is an outfit I might have worn BHR (Before Howard Ratner) save for the matching gold hardware on my belt and shoes. The Safdie brothers are known for their naturalistic style of filmmaking, and they spent years habituating to NYC’s Diamond District, where the majority of Uncut Gems takes place, noting and getting to know the men and women who worked there—how they walked, talked, and dressed. There were a lot of Ferragamo belts matched to Ferragamo shoes and Cartier glasses so minuscule they’d make even Bella Hadid blush. When searching for a leather jacket, look for one that says, “Yes, there is an unwrapped Werther’s Orig in the pocket.”
The most hectic scene in Uncut Gems arguably takes place inside (and then curbside) of notorious NYC club 1Oak. Howard wears a salmon-colored button down shirt with double pleated trousers, looking like the personification of what Liana Satenstein of Vogue perfectly dubbed, “schmuck style.” Watching the scene, you can’t help but feel a pang of pity for the guy who thought it was still cool to get dressed up for the club. The effort inspired me to layer two silk-printed button downs on top one another–paisley has always been a bit misunderstood, hasn’t it?
The bottom half of this outfit felt very Willy Loman meets Havana, and that seemed appropriate, because Howard Ratner is indeed a salesman with a lot of hubris and a little bit of swagger. Also—if I had to guess, he is most definitely the type of man who wears a white tank top underneath his clothes.
Pre-Uncut Gems, going sock-less in color block loafers would have offended me on a visceral level. Pairing them with wide-hemmed pants might have sent me over the edge. But in addition to challenging my credo, Howard Ratner has shaken a sense of ennui I had regarding my wardrobe. Once I gave myself permission to try harder (even if I looked like a schmuck in the process), I was able to dress in a way that felt more inherently me. So I thank Howie Ratner—and most importantly, stylist Miyako Bellizzi—for reviving a sense of style that is flamboyant but unpretentious, intentional but unenlightened, void of irony and without a single crewneck sweatshirt in sight. And I thank my closet’s preexisting DNA for being 89% patent leather, 11% questionable prints.
Photos by Franey Miller; Movie Stills via A24.