Nancy Meyers But Make It Gay: Wearing a Chunky Beach Sweater When Your Life Is Falling Apart

As the worst summer of my life crept into the sudden autumn that befell New York City this year, I couldn’t help but wonder: What the fuck is the point of all this emotional devastation and clamor in my personal life if I can’t at least renovate my kitchen and fall in love with the architect who designs it?

After all, that’s what would be happening if my life were a Nancy Meyers movie, and goddamnit I wish my life were a Nancy Meyers movie. I would have a lot of white wine and homemade pies. Maybe I could have an already perfect, open floorplan kitchen that nonetheless isn’t my dream kitchen yet (can you tell how stuck I am on this particular subplot in It’s Complicated?) The kitchen, of course, is a metaphor for my life and the fact that I need to move forward without dwelling on the past, need to prioritize myself, need to return to those old dreams that fell to the side when life got in the way.

Nancy Meyers makes beautiful, indulgent romantic comedies about beautiful straight white people and their straight white people problems. Everyone has a sprawling, naturally lit kitchen. Everyone has a closet full of neutrals. She makes certified Mommi Porn. I am neither straight nor white nor does a single ray of natural light ever hit my shoebox of a kitchen that was carved into my Brooklyn apartment as an afterthought. Is that going to stop me from living my best Nancy Meyers life? From letting out the inner Connecticut divorcée within? Hell no! It’s time for a little healthy escapism. It’s time to don a chunky beach sweater, pour myself a glass or three of pinot grigio, and alternate between laughing alone by the ocean while I think about heartbreak and staring contemplatively into the sunset while I think about heartbreak.

The chunky beach sweater is the little black dress of Nancy-Meyers-inspired Mommi fashion. It is essential; it is timeless. It is the perfect outfit to shrug on during a major life transition. Chunky beach sweaters say “fuck it.” Chunky beach sweaters say “I’m living.” There’s a lovely paradox when it comes to thick, shapeless winterwear on the beach.

Ultimately, Nancy Meyers movies speak to the universal experience of heartbreak, to the all-encompassing ripple effects of breakups, to the burden of exes. Like the recovery process after a breakup or divorce, Nancy Meyer’s movies last a little longer than expected. It’s Complicated is the extreme exception to the rule when it comes to my personal vendetta against rom-coms over 90 minutes long, because yeah, shit’s complicated! She knows she shouldn’t get back with her terrible ex, and she does it anyway, and it’s bad and it’s good and it makes her excited and it makes her hate herself.

There’s a lot, in a certain headspace, to connect with during these overlong, gorgeous, wish fulfillment rom-coms. Nancy’s characters get it. Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, barely staving off a panic attack in the middle of her vegetable garden while her ex tries to convince her to get back together? SAME. Natasha Richardson in Parent Trap, stress-smoking cigarettes indoors while she tears through her closet packing for a trip halfway across the world to see an ex she hasn’t seen or heard from in over a decade? SAME.

And then there’s Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, a playwright whose friends all call her strong and who nonetheless spends what feels like half the movie crying. Because sometimes heartbreak makes you not quite yourself. She wakes herself up crying, she writes through messy sobs — crying has essentially become a new hobby. “It’s my new thing,” she says. “I’ve gotten abnormally great at it.” Suffice it to say… I felt that.

But the other iconic image of Diane Keaton from the movie, other than her sobbing at her laptop, is of her laughing — whole-body laughing in her turtlenecked sweater by the beach.bmif tombstone

edited by rachel.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 870 articles for us.


  1. Kayla, the writing was already so good, but your poses in the photos absolutely everything!!! This would be the Nancy Meyers movie I want to see its so perfect.

  2. This hit me right in my romantic feels. Nancy Meyers films are such a guilty pleasure for me and you use them so perfectly in comparison with your perspective.

    Thanks for the early morning giggles. It was so so perfect.

  3. This is perfection. The photos!! Iconic.

    Also this reminds me that I want Brooklyn 99 to have a Nancy Meyers themed episode where Rosa drinks wine and has Complicated hijinks with a lady/ladies. They’ve already set the stage for it!

    • YES, that would be amazing! Kayla, I’m pretty sure we could submit these photos as audition headshots if you’re into it.

  4. Kayla, I’m not only waiting for precisely this rom-com but also your book – a collection of FYCs, your stories about movies, music, and recipes, basically all my favourite writing in one place. <3

    Also, I hope the chunky sweater does help a bit.

  5. I LOVE THIS. i had forgotten about the indoor cigarette hysteria. what a mood. kate winslet, in the holiday, wailing in her cabin and considering the gas stove a little too closely is another nancy meyer moment that STRUCK A CORD (and im pretty certain she’s wearing a chunky sweater in that scene)

  6. “Chunky beach sweaters say “fuck it.” Chunky beach sweaters say “I’m living.” There’s a lovely paradox when it comes to thick, shapeless winterwear on the beach.”

    ?? This entire post is perfection — and YES to Diane Keaton’s crying montage in Somethings Gotta Give, I love that film!!!

  7. Now I know why I always gaze so fondly at the chunky sweater pages of my LLBean catalog. My gay complicated soul is reaching out for its power suit.

  8. I always thought Somethings Got to Give could have made a great queer movie. You could easily be the star of it looking all fly in that sweater living it up. Plus, the more WOC as the star of a movie the better!

  9. After reading Autostraddle for years, this post is what finally pushed me into becoming a member. Truly delightful.

  10. Nancy Meyers movies as certified Mommi Porn is the best and most accurate statement I’ve read all day. This article is fantastic and the pictures just make it (chef’s kiss) perfection.

    Sign me up for wearing a chunky sweater and drinking pinot grigio on the beach while laughing about my life falling apart, because it is and I have many chunky sweaters. I generally acquire one or two more each winter. I’m thinking elbow patches this year.

  11. This is amazing. I now feel the urge to to live my best life in chunky beach sweaters, preferably a cable knit.

  12. this spoke to my soul. i grew up near san francisco, where chunky sweaters are always required on the beach because the beach is foggy and cold as shit. beach sweaters are a lifestyle i fully endorse, as is being at the beach when it’s cold. sunny summer beaches are overrated! the ocean is at its best in the winter.
    but also my life and mental health are at rock bottom right now, and i want nothing more than to be drinking pinot grigio in a chunky sweater on a beach. these photos, and the concept of the chunky beach sweater, made me feel actual inner peace.

  13. Kayla I don’t know if you are a top, but this article about tops was tops!

    Really one of the most brilliant and delightful surprises I have clicked into… Surprise because despite having seen most of these films I didn’t know who Nancy Meyers was so this was a haphazard choice for me. Never doubt a Kayla piece, is the lesson I have learned here. And how to laugh alone on a beach with chunky knits, of course.

  14. i didn’t realize that “chunky beach sweater” could be an emotion until now, and i feel as though a void in my limited feelings vocabulary has been filled.

  15. “Chunky beach sweaters say “fuck it.” Chunky beach sweaters say “I’m living.” There’s a lovely paradox when it comes to thick, shapeless winterwear on the beach.”

    I have long loved the concept of the beach in winter, and this perfectly encapsulates why. My favorite scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is when they’re on the snowy beach. (Which supposedly wasn’t planned; they were filming in NY in January and it snowed for real.) It’s such a lovely dichotomy, the snow and the sand.

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