Adam Sandler Is This Year’s Fashion Icon—And I Love It (2024)

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Fashion

By Liana Satenstein

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

If there was a fashion zodiac for 2021, it would be the year of the schlub. The proof is in the Google trend results: Adam Sandler beat out Harry Styles, Lizzo, and Britney Spears to be the top search for celebrity style. Yes, Adam Sandler, best known for his parachute-size basketball shorts. While heartthrob Styles goes viral with his plucked-from-the-runway dresses, Sandler garners genuine attention for his oversized tees and equally spacious pants, accessorized with a jar of pickles.

I’m not completely surprised that Sandler has achieved this accolade. He’s the unofficial ambassador of pandemic style. The past 18 months have been dominated by all-things cushy: sweatpants and sweatshirts. Sandler has long encapsulated this look. Search “Adam Sandler style” and the results show a dude who looks like he’s made an imprint on his La-Z-Boy. The actor wears huge blooming basketball shorts, oversized polos, and untied basketball shoes—a low-key grocery-run look that everyone has more or less adopted in their own way over the past several months.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Sandler’s look is a funny outlet from a depressive reality: Many people are alienated from their colleagues and friends, becoming one with their comforter and their sweatpants. The world might be burning—and brands might be attempting to bring back celebratory dressing—but in the meantime, at least Sandler lends a hilarious face to the state of fashion.

Sandler is also a fashion antihero. He’s reached such a level of success that he can live by his own style standards, which are low and comfortable. After all, given Sandler’s star status, he doesn’t have to prove anything and certainly doesn’t need to be hip.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

This schlub look has resonated with the fashion industry. Sandler reentered the style-minded’s radar with his role in the 2019 film Uncut Gems, in which he played Howard Ratner, a cash-poor, gambling-addicted diamond dealer; a lovable parasite who wore mindlessly bought logo-heavy luxury shirts with the tags still on them. His character’s look was more schmuck-y than schlub-y, but it also made us look at Sandler once again. When Uncut Gems was released in December 2019, we became very well acquainted with the actor’s ridiculous humongous shorts and bloated knee-skimming T-shirts.

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Designers have taken notice as well. The downtown-beloved label Praying, known for its perverse irony, has used Sandler as one of its promotional images. The brand photoshopped the actor in full Praying gear, holding its Twilight-fan shoulder bag. There’s absolutely no way in hell that Sandler would ever waste time keeping up with the fashion Joneses, which makes the whole getup funny.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 21: Adam Sandler is seen on May 21, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Stickman/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)Stickman/Bauer-Griffin

The brand Old Jewish Men also uses Sandler as its mascot. On its Instagram page, the label posts lackadaisical but oddly fashion-forward outfits from, well, old Jewish men, which feels in step with Sandler’s brand. In the past, the account has broadcasted Sandler’s everyday attire, including his post-basketball outfits, and his now widely circulated pickle-chomping fall look. The star made an impact on the Old Jewish Men page’s creator, Noah Rinsky. “Not only is lounging in loungewear acceptable in America at the moment, it’s a badge of honor to look like a motorless sloth but still be good at what you do,” he says. “This is Sandler’s charm.”

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Inspired, he tapped the label’s creative director, Bryan Seversky, to create Sandler Shorts, basketball shorts in white and blue that are meant to be worn a few sizes too big and as both activewear and everyday loungewear, as Sandler intended. “Wear the shorts around the house, to the court, or to your nephew’s bris,” says Seversky, adding, “He dresses for comfort and is unapologetic about it. And there’s something refreshing and genuine about this attitude.”

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It isn’t only downtown brands that have been heralding the great big bagginess of Sandler. Whether it is ironic or not, TikTokers have been promoting Sandlercore and wearing all-things XXL. In one instance, the user @meganoakley_ starts a video off with a selfie in which she says “you wouldn’t go out dressed like that” and then segues to a clip of a gaggle of women dressed in supersized shorts and T-shirts à la Sandler. TikTok tastemaker Tinx notes that, in addition to dressing like a “rich mom,” she swears by Sandler’s style. In a Vogue article from July 2021, she notes: “Adam Sandler is someone I think a lot about when I get dressed. How big can my T-shirt be; how long are my shorts? That’s very accepted in California too.

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In an industry that is often highly put-together, strategic, and manicured, there’s certainly some beauty in Sandler’s insouciant approach to clothing. All of those oversized pieces seem to say “life is life” and “clothes are clothes.” That’s all true, so why not wear what you want? While Sandler’s relaxed vibe makes him an unusual fashion icon, he’s suited for these times. After all, his clothing philosophy is comfortable, and most importantly, it’s comforting.

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Adam Sandler Is This Year’s Fashion Icon—And I Love It (2024)
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