lighthouse jumpers knitwear

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Willem Dafoe’s new film is overflowing with nautical knitwear inspiration. We ask costume designer Linda Muir how to channel the looks from The Lighthouse...

When you see The Lighthouse — and you really, really should see The Lighthouse — you’ll likely leave the cinema feeling a little uneasy. A brine-soaked, black-and-white trip of a film, the latest project starring current Gentleman’s Journal cover star Willem Dafoe is part-horror, part-period thriller, part-Robert Pattinson sleeping with mermaids and beating up seagulls. It’s occasionally baffling, frequently chilling and entirely unique from start to finish.

But, while it has been busy dividing viewers from the Cannes Croisette to the Hollywood Hills, audiences have agreed to heap acclaim on one element of The Lighthouse: its knitwear. And that’s music to costume designer Linda Muir’s ears.

“I find it fascinating that folks are loving the look,” Muir tells Gentleman’s Journal of Dafoe and Pattinson’s crusty collection of jumpers, ganseys and salty sweaters. “But sweaters can be elegant, relaxed and tactile — and who wouldn’t want that?”

We couldn’t agree more. So how can we take inspiration from the knitwear from The Lighthouse? Muir reveals that there was no source for period-correct ready-made sweaters for the film, so the creative team themselves knitted all of the majestic jumpers you see on-screen. But, once you finish obsessing over the film’s staggering ending — seriously, go see it — here’s how you can replicate 2020’s most unlikely, saltiest style icons.

Pull on a funnel-neck sweater like Robert Pattinson

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

“A real ‘fisherman’ sweater can instantly make a strong sartorial statement,” says Muir. “Like men don’t have to be hunters to wear Filson, or bikers to appreciate Belstaff, it’s the same here. Robert Pattinson’s character was a lumberman before signing up as a ‘wickie’ and, as he had a secret past, director Robert Eggers and I tried to create an ambiguous wardrobe that featured all our favourite period styles.”

Part of this ambiguous wardrobe was a chunky, wide-necked jumper that has sent social media into overdrive. Unfortunately, you can’t buy the exact sweater — as it was a bespoke piece — but we’ve found a couple of suitably similar alternatives based on Muir’s description of the garment.

“Quite honestly,” begins Muir, “Robert and Willem could make just about anything seem like sexy attire, but that funnel-neck sweater that Robert wears as his character, Ephraim, is modelled less on the maritime standard than Willem’s. It’s a textile with a terrific texture”.

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

A.P.C Wayne Wool Sweater

£270

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How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

NN07 Wool-Blend Sweater

£170

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How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Inis Meáin Basketweave Sweater

£310

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Master maritime seafaring style like Willem Dafoe

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

As a briny, husky lighthouse keeper, Dafoe is the wide-eyed, wicked highlight of The Lighthouse. His pipe and badged hat may be bigger stylistic statements — not to mention that incredibly impressive and very real beard — but the Oscar-nominated actor also sports a couple of subtler, nautical sweaters.

“Willem does play the seafaring salty dog-turned-keep,” agrees Muir. “As such, his costumes revolved around his maritime past. Parts of his United States Lighthouse Establishment uniform are generally in play — his cap with insignia, or his vest with authentic brass uniform buttons — mixed with what would have been the character’s own limited personal clothing brought to the island. The sweaters present a quirky look that has some very interesting history attached. And they evoke a rugged, hands-on, hardworking quality — something that many modern men would also like to evoke.”

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Oliver Spencer Henham Navy Jumper

£189

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How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Sunspel Recycled Rib Jumper

£420

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How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Drake’s Feeling Wool Jumper

£132

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Find a thick knit sweater with a stitch based on the seaside

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

“The sweaters were made of wool sourced in New Brunswick, Canada,” reveals Muir, adding that she wanted the garments to represent genuinely valuable clothing that the characters would have treasured. “The black and white reference photos that Robert Eggers and I collected and used as inspiration showed real people working at maritime jobs, wearing thick, knit sweaters — some mended many times over.

“And they were knitted with classic stitches,” she adds. “Stitches that were based on the elements seen seaside: waves, pebbles, rope, or horizons. They kept men warm and dry — and they kept Willem and Robert comfortable during a very cold and wet shoot.”

There are indeed many stitches inspired by the sea. The pebble or moss stitch, a unique crochet stitch, almost looks like it has seashells darned through the design. Many variations on cable knits draw on the nautical traditions of ropework and sailing knots. And the wave stitch looks exactly how it sounds; presenting an elegant mesh pattern that ripples across the surface of your sweater. All of these variations were at play in The Lighthouse and, if they were good enough to keep two A-listers comfortable off the turbulent Canadian coast, we’d wager they’re good enough for you.

How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Sir Plus Navy Moss Stitch Jumper

£105

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How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Ralph Lauren Cable-Knit Sweater

£175

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How to pick your knitwear, according to The Lighthouse costume designer

Barbour New Tyne Jumper

£74.95

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Want more Willem Dafoe? Go behind-the-scenes of our cover shoot with the acclaimed actor…

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