Lifestyle

Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give Is Your Off-Duty Style Inspiration

7 total views
Here’s how to replicate his delirious approach to WFH style.

A collage of Jack Nicholson in three different outfits from 'Somethings Gotta Give' on a colorful background

Photographs: Everett Collection; Collage: Gabe Conte

All products featured on GQ are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Not every part of Something’s Gotta Give, the early 2000s rom-com written and directed by Nancy Meyers, stands up to scrutiny. The majority of the action takes place in the Hamptons, in the sprawling, ripped-from-a-catalog home of Erica Barry (a perpetually-turtlenecked Diane Keaton), the successful playwright tasked with nursing Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson, in tremendous form) back to health after he collapses from a heart attack. In a nifty twist, Sanborn, an unrepentant playboy with a reputation for wooing women half his age, goes into cardiac arrest having sex with Barry’s daughter, who he’s dating. The aughts were a wild time!

If you have a passing familiarity with the Nancy Meyers cinematic universe, you can probably fill in the blanks from there. They get to talking, and by the end of the two-hour runtime Sanborn is in Paris, confessing his feelings in time with the soaring Hans Zimmer soundtrack. The movie is ostensibly about an aging bachelor on the brink of an existential crisis brought on by a fateful encounter with true love. Mostly, though, it excels as a moodboard for aspirational off-duty style, an evergreen reminder of the joy of summer dressing.

Young Keanu never stood a chance. 

©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Something’s Gotta Give boasts all the hallmarks of a classic Meyers joint: the witty repartee, the will-they-won’t-they dynamic, the near-uniformly white cast. But the director is a master of succinct word-building, and she outfits her characters accordingly. When the movie opens with Sanborn jawing on the phone en route to the Hamptons, wearing a weathered chambray shirt and slick black sunglasses, he looks every bit the wheeling-and-dealing titan of industry. From the outset, his wardrobe defines him as precisely the type of guy you expect him to be: a smooth-talking macher who wouldn’t bat an eye trading barbs with the Roys on the next season of Succession.

But after his trip to the hospital, Sanborn’s clothing repeatedly subverts expectations. Confined to Barry’s guest bedroom, he dresses with a madcap sense of abandon familiar to anyone who started going a little stir-crazy during quarantine. His proto-WFH wardrobe still looks considered, but he wears it carelessly, with a rumpled ease only magnified by Keaton’s frazzled, literally buttoned-up character. (Barry’s wardrobe is so eerily on-point it helped spawn a TikTok micro-trend all its own, encouraging hordes of Gen Z teens to cosplay as “coastal grandmas” in the process.) Why dress for the job you want, his clothing suggests, when dressing for the lifestyle you want is so much more fun?

Forget the coastal grandma: get a load of the big-time fit on the left!

©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

When Sanborn ventures back into the Big Apple, something funky happens: his style regresses. Gone are the breezy linen shirts and sleazy knit polos; in their place are the staid, somber trappings of corporate life. His suits are too big (and not in an artful, 2022 way), and he never really seems comfortable in them. For the first time in the movie, he looks like he doesn’t believe his own shtick. Maybe he no longer wants to.

Something’s Gotta Give isn’t all that concerned with Sanborn’s ongoing stylistic evolution. (Our kingdom for a sequel!) But it makes a compelling argument for the transformative power of context-less dressing. Got a ticket booked to Positano? Bring some of that energy back with you. Or better yet, don’t wait for the vacation: throw on an airy camp shirt and a silky shawl-collar robe—or a half-buttoned PJ set and plush velvet slippers—just because. 

Sanborn in his element. 

©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Clothing, we’re sad to report, can only go so far in mending a broken heart. But the right outfit can help you feel like the person you aspire to be, or once were, not too long ago—even if that person feels as divorced from your current reality as a Nancy Meyers flick.


Two Ways to Get the Look

In a defining moment from the movie, Sanborn and Barry go for a leisurely stroll on the Hamptons dunes decked out in dueling shades of white—the latter in a jaunty bucket hat, ribbed knit zip-up, and trim khakis, the former in an untucked safari shirt and billowing linen trousers. What do you get when you combine the two? A swerve-y summer fit you can, and should, wear long past Labor Day.

Uniqlo UV protection bucket hat

Sébline safari flap-pocket cotton-poplin shirt

Matchesfashion

Ts(s) cotton-linen trousers

$345

No Man Walks Alone

Mezlan fisherman sandals

Sun Buddies “Greta” sunglasses

After being prescribed a week of strict bedrest, Sanborn’s style takes a turn towards the absurd—without veering into the realm of Hefner-esque caricature. He looks like he’s OOO in Majorca, not recovering from a heart attack. The quickest way to ape his charmingly louche vibe? Ignore the hackneyed notions of social propriety that usually dictate how you dress, and then swap out the WFH sweats for pajamas that’d make Julian Schnabel blush.

Sid Mashburn striped pajama set

$250

Sid Mashburn

Charvet leather slippers

$370

Matchesfashion

Derek Rose tonal pinstripe silk robe

Timex easy reader watch

Share this Post

About Us

Celebrating our best lives at fifty and beyond! 50ismorefun brings you motivational news and stories centered around life, fitness, fashion, money, travel and health for active folks enjoying the second half of lives.