What do we think of these Sexiest Men and their turtlenecks?

By Alex Apatoff
Updated November 19, 2013 07:10 PM

We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go in the illustrious history of PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive. Think feathered hair, hot scruff and this guy. Twice.

But there’s one rite of passage that it seems nearly all Sexiest Men Alive (well, pre-2010, anyway) have gone through, and one we think they won’t be returning to again: the saucy male turtleneck. Below, we investigate past Sexiest Man Alive winners and their high-neck moments, and take bets as to whether this onetime SMA staple will be making a resurgence on 2013’s Sexiest Man when he’s unveiled.

RELATED: Can’t get enough Sexiest Man Alive coverage? Then you’ll want to spend your day right here.

Credit: Jason LaVeris/Filmmagic

Jason LaVeris/Filmmagic

Who: Tom Cruise
Sexiest Man Alive In… 1990
Tale of his turtleneck: He wore it with an all-gray suit to premiere Oblivion in April…2013
Turtleneck heat index: 2 out of 10. While Cruise’s hair might have gotten an upgrade since his Sexiest Man win, the modern-day Cruise looks like a professorial lab worker who’s going to bust out of that turtleneck any moment, Hulk style. And if that’s actually a plus for you, feel free to bump your personal heat index up a point or two. No judgment.

Credit: Courtesy People

Courtesy People

Who: Sean Connery
Sexiest Man Alive In… 1989
Tale of his turtleneck: Worn on the cover of his Sexiest Man Alive issue
Turtleneck heat index: 6 out of 10. Connery’s giving such strong Blue Steel, he’s practically daring you to make fun of his tight white top. We capitulated under that fierce gaze. Turtleneck? What turtleneck?

Courtesy People

Who: Pierce Brosnan
Sexiest Man Alive In… 2001
Tale of his turtleneck: Brosnan had the dubious distinction of being the second be-turtlenecked Sexiest Man Alive to grace the PEOPLE cover
Turtleneck heat index: 5 out of 10. That makes the second James Bond on this list who had to trade his tuxedo for a turtleneck. Note to future Bond stylists: The man was made for formalwear. Don’t fight it. On the other hand, the navy does bring out Brosnan’s blue eyes, so we’re calling this a wash.

Credit: Everett


Who: Jude Law
Sexiest Man Alive In… 2004
Tale of his turtleneck: Worn to cozy up to the fire (and Cameron Diaz) in a chilly English town in The Holiday
Turtleneck heat index: 8 out of 10. Law was born to gaze soulfully at you while wearing a turtleneck as snow falls softly outside. If anyone’s going to make a case for a turtleneck resurgence, it’s this guy.

Credit: Luca Teuchmann/Getty

Courtesy People

Who: Denzel Washington
Sexiest Man Alive In… 1996
Tale of his turtleneck: Worn to the the Berlin premiere of Flight in January 2013 with a Very Serious Coat
Turtleneck heat index: 7 out of 10. Sorry, Denzel, even a goofy “dad’s night out” ensemble can’t obscure your silver fox appeal. It makes you look like a particularly hot professor. Nice try though.

Credit: Everett


Who: Bradley Cooper
Sexiest Man Alive In… 2011
Tale of his turtleneck: Though we wouldn’t have been surprised to hear he wore this while eating a baguette and donning a beret (he’s fluent in French, after all), this was, curiously, a costume for his tough-guy action remake The A-Team.
Turtleneck heat index: 3 out of 10. Points for the beard, but we subtracted some for the tiny glasses.

Arnaldo Magnani/Getty

Who: George Clooney
Sexiest Man Alive In… 1997 and 2006
Tale of his turtleneck: Worn to the 2002 premiere of his directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Turtleneck heat index: 2 out of 10. We get that he had to go for “serious director” rather than “glorious hearthrob” at this premiere. But even Clooney the Artiste can’t overcome the eggplant ribbed menace, especially when worn with a shaggy do.

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–Alex Apatoff