A Gaggle of Gay Grandpa Sweaters

Queers, it is Fall time. And Fall time means sweater time. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The songs will tell you that’s Christmas, but they’re lying. It’s Fall. And I am not the only one with strong sweater feelings: when I emailed the team to ask about their sweater feelings, my inbox was flooded. What do we like best? Grandpa sweaters. Grandpa Sweaters of all shapes, sizes, patterns and materials.

How do you classify a Grandpa Sweater? If it can be found in the wild on a grandpa, it’s a Grandpa Sweater.

example grandpa. via pixarwallpapers.blogspot.com

And there’s about a hundred different ways to wear Grandpa Sweater in a queer fashion. Here’s a few of them! So sit back with your pumpkin spice latté, your tams and your fingerless Fall gloves and order yourself some.


Rachel’s Look: Bold Solid Colors

“I got it from Goodwill, it’s got a rolled neck and the rest of the body is moss stitch, it’s acrylic but still super soft and warm. I originally bought it planning to use it to make a cat bed for my cat but then I fell in love.”


Bonus Grandpa Points: shoulder patches.



Kristen’s (and Minnie the Cat’s) Look: Greyscale

Kristen: “I snagged this grandpa sweater at a major discount when I was thrifting during a spring heatwave. (Always shop off season kiddos!) Given that it was already loved/worn/washed I didn’t have to worry about accidentally shrinking it to kitty sized. It is the softest piece of clothing I own and I am all about the snuggles.”

Minnie: (Did not express a love of her sweater)


Bonus Grandpa Points: shawl collars, elbow patches and toggles.



Lizz’s Look: The Subtle Stripe

“I bought this sweater at Harry Potter World in Orlando because I obviously really needed it. It’s theoretically some limited edition sweater like the ones from the movies. Once I got home I realized that few people were ever going to be able to recognize it for its true Harry Potter awesomeness. Fortunately it looks awesome anyways. I love to pair it with a V-neck, skinny jeans and black military boots when I feel gross but have to look moderately put together. Everyone just thinks “Oh look at that cute sweater with that adorable stripe at the bottom.” No one realizes I’m actually wearing it because I’m super lazy and it’s wicked comfy.”


Bonus Grandpa Points: some not so subtle stripes.



Vanessa’s Look: Argyle!

“I love grandpa sweaters because they are cozy and comfy and they mean fall is here and I can drink warm beverages and go apple picking and curl up by my non-existent fire place. I like them because when my girlfriend wears them she looks handsome and dapper, and when I wear them I feel casual and sexy and you can make ’em fancy or dress ’em down and really they feel as though they are perfect for every occasion. This is my newest grandpa sweater and I got it for $5 at a men’s sample sale.”


Bonus Grandpa Points: extra baggy sweaters



Ali’s Look: Cable Knit


“I am not even gonna pretend this is mine. I stole it from my girlfriend who has a whole closet full of grandpa sweaters. But it’s my favorite because it’s so floppy that the sleeves can cover my hands if I so choose. And of course because it’s cable knit. As a knitter, I have a great appreciation for cabling. That shit’s hard.”


Bonus Grandpa Points: cable knit mixed with Fair Isle.



Carmen’s Look: Patterns, Patterns, Patterns!

“Charlotte gave me my grandpa sweater because even though it was slightly too small it was warm and she knew I needed a gift. I wore it to Thanksgiving dinner in an attempt to feel covered in my soon-to-come battles at the dinner table; instead I ate a brownie and laughed my ass off. It’s super goofy and it fits nice with leggings as pants when I have a hot chocolate in tow. I love it.”


Bonus Grandpa Points: woodland animals.



Kate’s Look: Accessorizing The Grandpa Sweater

 “I acquired sweater #1 from a friend. It has leather triangles sewn into the pattern and it’s a little bit too big for me. I wear it with lil black skinny jeans and run around like I am a four year old. Sweater #2 is a vintage 80s Calvin Klein sweater I stole from my uncle. I can wear it over everything but something about a bowtie really completes it.”


Bonus Grandpa Points: moar bow ties.


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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. my dad, who is in his 70s, has the best grandpa sweater collection ever. insane patterns with bright colors. and i hope to inherit them one day. that’s all i want. that and the fancy glasswear so i can feel like a badass when i get my booze on.

    • All I inherited from my grandfather was a gift that was also given to all my cousins. Finding the box that was used to store his ashes for three years (empty at this point) thinking it was an old shoe box and there might be some cool old stuff and then seeing the stamp on the top saying opunake funeral home (btw this was when we were cleaning up my grandmas stuff so their bedroom was already really scary, I got startled by my cousins gf once or twice)

    • Inherited sweaters are the best! I have two sweaters that I inherited from my actual grandpa (does that get bonus points also??) that are so soft and warm and fit perfectly (he was a rather small old man) and I love them so much. My aunt wanted to throw them out/donate them and I was like, HELL NO.
      Um although of course I support donating clothes in most situations. I just got selfish on this one. Anyway, yay grandpa sweaters!

  2. FALL IS MY FAVORITE SEASON AND GRANDPAS ARE MY FAVORITE KIND OF SWEATER. On the short list of pros of small-town living, the local goodwill has the BEST selection of grandpa sweaters. Racks full of the faded, classically patterned, oversized glory that you just can’t find in city thrift stores because grandpas don’t live in cities… or maybe all the cute queers that live in cities always find them first!

    What I’m saying is, YES.

  3. Yes! Sweater season means I can dress like an old man and get away with it. Bring on the cords, sweaters, button-ups, ties, and cabby hats.

    Of course this means it’s ALSO knee sock weather. The world will be dazzled by my vast collection of striped and argyle knee socks.

    • I agree with everything you said. Knee socks are wonderous. My rainbow ones ran away, so I should probably get more.

    • I really really need some fancy socks. And by fancy, I mean patterned and possibly nineteen-thirties-ish.


    (You guys I gave my girlfriend an old jumper that was too big for me and immediately she put it on I had some kind of love explosion inside my head because of the snuggliness overload.)

  5. I came home from this little trip some of you might have heard about and it was cold.instant cold. and I realized I didn’t have any grandpa sweaters that survived last winter. So now I have shopping ideas.

  6. If Grandpa sweaters weren’t cute enough, the pictures of all of you kind of made me squeal with joy.

    I like cardigans.

  7. This and the sunday posts are my favorite things about autostraddle :D not even joking. Sweaters and women yes!

  8. I hate that it’s still in the high 90s here in Texas, so grandpa sweaters have to wait. Heat exhaustion is not cute. :(

      • Yeah girl yeah. At least we don’t have to endure below zero, tundra-esque conditions! This is essentially my only consolation when I feel sad about our lack of seasons in TX.

    • So I don’t know how, but it seems my comment about boots got deleted? :/ I’m excited to commiserate another Dallas Straddler though! There were a couple others at Camp and I think we’re going to try to get together sometime, maybe when it’s finally cool enough to all wear our grandpa sweaters!

  9. Yes, it just got cold here. I may need to find where my local value village is and get a nice big sweater :D

    • it’s not actually mine, if we’re going to be totally honest, b/c that’s not my apartment. but we can still be in love i think

  10. I love shawl collars!! We recently got a J.Crew sweater with a shawl collar from a consigner where I work and I bought it immediately. I get really cold but I’m also allergic to wool so anytime I see a non-wool sweater I jump on it! Sadly, my wool allergy tends to get in the way of my Fair Isle dreams… anyone know of any (women’s) Fair Isle sweaters made without wool?

    • OMG someone else who is allergic to wool! People look at me so funny when I tell them that I am. I tried SmartWool socks once, and my skin simultaneously told me “mmm soft” and “itchyitchyitchy”. A very odd combination.

    • You could always commission a knitter to make one for you, if you really really want one. I would offer, but I don’t have a lot of experience with sweaters yet (just did one, and the sleeves turned out WAY huge).

  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes
    Macklemore – Thrift Shop. Macklemore knows where its at!

    “Imma take it grandpa style, imma take it grandpa style,
    No, for real I asked your grandpa, can I have his hand-me-downs?”

    “I’ll wear your grand dad’s clothes,
    I’ll look incredible,
    I’m in this big ass coat, from that thrift shop down the road.”

    • This video was shot at Red Light in Seattle, which is made of vintage amazingness and grandpa sweaters. (www.redlightvintage.com)

      • Oh my god really? I LIVE THERE NOW. *leaves house, realizes it’s middle of the night, comes back and thinks about sweaters*

  12. I don’t find sweaters very comfortable, personally. They always feel heavy on me and itchy too. And it’s not very cold where I live. I’m sorry, that’s just me though, and I’m probably wrong.

    • Haha you can’t be wrong about an opinion! (unless you’re, like, Mitt Romney, but umm off topic) You fully have a right to dislike sweaters if you want, don’t apologize!
      For real, I wish you all the best in the future though and hope you find a really soft lightweight cottony sweater or maybe cashmere or something one day and you realize it’s all snuggly and the best :)

      • I don’t wear the really heavy ones very much. Also I wear a lot of hoodies and flannel cause I’m classy like that, which leaves a lot less room for sweaters in my everyday attire. Also I hate it when things like sweaters don’t fit PERFECTLY.

        That being said, if your problem is that they’re heavy and itchy, there’s always some lightweight ones that are soft and amazing at like, Target. I had one with angora in it from Target and it shed everywhere but also it was the best thing ever, pretty much? That being said, you are not obligated to enjoy wearing sweaters.

        Also, SWEATER VESTS. I’m about to order a billion online to find the perfect one. I will report back.

  13. I miss sweater weather! I think I would die of heat exhaustion here in New Orleans if I put on a grandpa sweater. Sometimes it’s worth it though

  14. I’m pretty glad I live in London at the moment for 2 simple reasons:
    1. It is perfect grandpa sweater weather right now.
    2. It is perfect for buying grandpa sweaters.


  15. Fall is my favorite season. I just got a great cable knit with a toggle close that I can’t wait to wear. Ughhh grandpa sweaters, I love you so much. So happy I’m not alone.

  16. What if I told you all that I have a sweater that is knit, from front to back, with a scene of people playing golf? Cause that exists.

    • I really want the puppy I have as my avatar on a sweater, like my life would be complete. There is also another AS member that has a ridiculously cute kitten gnawing a finger as their picture and I want that in sweater form too.

      I have a lot of cardigans.

      • i saw a couple dog sweaters yesterday shopping for grandpa sweaters! but i really wanted a cardigan so i didn’t go for it… if you happen to live in the nyc area i can direct you to it, though!

  17. grandpa sweater + leggings as pants + thigh high boots = i look like i put effort into this outfit when really i woke up 5 minutes ago. WIN!

  18. to goodwill we go! thankfully i live in a town with a high concentration of hipsters so these are something i can easily find
    i’m so excited for floral leggings and grandpa sweaters wheeeee

    I know it’s probably like a million dollars because all good HP merch is (don’t ask me how I know that, I didn’t spend 30 pounds for a wand before the 7th movie, what are you talking about, that would be embarrassing) but I might have to look around for it on the interwebs anyway. Lizz I hope you don’t mind me totally (trying to) copy you!

  20. I found a sweater in a bag of old clothes my borther wore when he was like 8, it’s the best sweater ever. It’s red and has this really cool dragon in black. I also love my Oregon Zoo grandpa sweater.

  21. Best. Article. Ever.

    Because sweaters are my favorite, along with fall, and snuggles and fireplaces, and hot tea.

  22. It still isn’t sweater weather where I live quite yet, but I’ve been wearing my new oversized $6 thrifted royal purple cable knit sweater at least once a week anyways…..it’s so comfy I just want to live in it. I absolutely adore this article and seeing all the staff in their sweaters!

  23. I have a vintage army supply cardigan and it’s the warmest/best. And it has cute military touches like shoulder straps and elbow pads. Unfortunately I live in Texas, so I won’t get to wear it out of the house until like November.

  24. Totally heading to Goodwill this weekend, as all my sweaters/flannels are in storage in another state, and it’s frickin cold here.

  25. The Grandpa Sweater: How everyone knew I was gay before I did, est. 1997 (the year I got tingly in the pants over Robyn’s ‘Show Me Love’ and started wearing nothing but sweaters regardless of outside temperature.)

    • I don’t know. I’ve been wondering if it still qualifies as a Grandpa sweater if it’s technically made for little boys, and not for men?

  26. I love sweaters – I am wearing quite the massive gay rainbow-y retro one right now- but I also love the cuteness in these photos. D’aw.

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