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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

‘Only Murders in the Building’ has a secret weapon to cozy crime: knitwear

If you’re about to dissect a murder scene in your own living room, you’d want to be comfortable, right?

As new clues are uncovered — sending the investigation in a whole new direction — Only Murders in the Building relies on one key element to keep things as cozy as possible: knitwear.

Snuggly sweaters keep us perpetually reassured in the Hulu series that follows three lovable amateur criminologists, who are trying to solve murders in their Upper West Side apartment building while producing a true crime podcast about it.

“Is that blood?” asks Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) in Season 2, holding up a matchbook piece of evidence, wearing a cozy argyle print cardigan in autumnal colours, beside Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), perplexed in his signature navy sweater. Sure, that’s definitely blood, but with all this wool, we won’t be chilled.

So cozy.
Credit: Hulu

Alongside Siddhartha Khosla’s consistently compelling score, costume designer Dana Covarrubias supplies one of the most important tools in the crime show’s arsenal to keep things nice and comfortable amongst all that stabbing and deception. The wardrobe picks and their soothing fabric tactility softens the brutality of the show’s context and ultimately, it’s a classic cozy crime move — just ask Chris Evans’ iconically snug sweater from Knives Out.

Cozy crime is that PG subgenre of crime fiction that offers escapism by pouring a nice big glass of Pinot and dancing around the fact that a human being has been killed. In these tales, the violence happens offscreen (or page) and the murder mystery is usually solved by amateur sleuths, members of the often tight knit community where the crime occurred. This is no dark Nordic noir, this is light and fluffy stuff. They’re mysteries that people have long liked to curl up with, from Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series, MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin escapades, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books through to Richard Osman’s recent Thursday Murder Club series. Onscreen, cozy crime has welcomed viewers with open arms through Rosemary and Thyme, Jonathan Creek among so, so many others that you can probably watch on BritBox.

As a cozy crime tale in itself, Only Murders in the Building has a tricky task, as its lead characters are investigating grisly murders of people close to them, while dabbling in production of a true crime podcast themselves — one of the most complicated guilty pleasures in terms of ethics. So, to soften the blows for the characters and the audience, and keep this murder investigation nice and fluffy, Covarrubias has swaddled our sleuths in as much cozy knitwear as humanly possible.

In the first ever episode of Season 1, Charles, Mabel, and Oliver all sit around their apartments listening to Cinda Canning’s podcast, drinking wine in their comfy yet chic sweaters. It’s a highly appealing image, one true crime podcast listeners would probably like to settle into — a comfortable setting to listen to the horrifying details of a gruesome crime. Later, the trio rifles through the garbage looking for clues in their delightfully plush robes. Forget “Angel in Flip Flops,” Mabel is an angel in knit crops.


Forget “Angel in Flip Flops,” Mabel is an angel in knit crops.

Through Seasons 1 and 2, the Arconia’s most artistic resident dons a flurry of bold-hued fluffy sweaters, teddy coats, and comfy cardigans that make her investigations into creepy secret passageways and bloody matchbooks seem just that bit less horrifying. The first time we met Mabel in Season 1, she was wearing her iconic color-block yellow fit, including a mustard-hued fluffy jacket over a sweater, the perfect look for breezily describing a recurring dream about brutally murdering an intruder with a knitting needle.

A young woman in a mustard sweater and fluffy jacket with matching headphones and beanie in New York.

Mabel in Season 1…
Credit: Hulu

A young woman in a black and white chequered sweater and yellow trenchcoat leans on a table.

…and Mabel in Season 2.
Credit: x

Mabel’s signature look is a cropped sweater and mini skirt, especially in Season 2, bringing bright blue, deep red, and chequered numbers paired with a buttery yellow fluffy trench. In Season 2, episode 1, Mabel’s blood red cropped turtleneck sweater balances out as she stands over the scene of the crime. In episode 3, she wears a brown teddy coat paired with a woolen scarf, so enormous it almost swallows her whole. In episode 6, it’s a baby blue sweater and white fluffy wool trench with pockets deep enough to contain crucial bloody evidence in a ziplock bag. We love when fashion and function are in cahoots!

Three people in sweaters and coats stand together looking apprehensive.

Another day, another sweater/trench combo.
Credit: Hulu

Mabel’s not the only resident of the Arconia donned with knits. While Oliver (Martin Short) glides through the episodes in his array of spectacular scarves with a sensible sweatered Charles in tow, their neighbours represent with the woollen goods. At Bunny’s retirement party in Season 2, episode 3, it’s almost a 90 percent knitwear attendance. That includes Howard Morris (Michael Cyril Creighton), whose knitted vests are a character of their own.

A man in a knitted vest sits in a maximalist apartment living room on a couch.

Howard’s knitted vests forever.
Credit: Hulu

Newcomer Nina Lin (Christine Ko) is swamped in a woolen blanket when she’s gifted another blanket. Charles’ daughter, Lucy (Zoe Margaret Colletti), even wears the world’s fluffiest bucket hat while she’s infiltrating the dark and creepy secret passages of the Arconia. In Season 2, episode 6, Mabel and Alice (Cara Delevingne) hang out eating breakfast, Alice wearing the confetti-speckled knit we saw Mabel wear in Season 1, episode 2. Bunny’s (Jayne Houdyshell) own wardrobe is almost purely fur, knitwear, and silk. The Only Murders podcast fans even sell cozy hoodies and woolen hats — comfy merchandise in which Bunny is actually murdered in

A woman with an intense stare sits on a couch wearing a fluffy sweater.

So fluffy.
Credit: Hulu

Even podcast queen Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) herself recognizes the power of knitwear to soothe an audience through a horrifying real crime investigation. She even literally knits with her assistant Cindy (Anne Stringfield) in one of the Season 2 opening sequences. “For 52 minutes a week…they trust me to spin a yarn from a pretty knitter in Manhattan all the way to a missing farm girl in Chickashay,” she tells the core trio.

A woman with glasses wears a yellow striped sweater sitting in. chair.

Not an Arconia resident, but even Cindy has good knitwear.
Credit: Hulu

Multiple people have been murdered in the Arconia, most likely by other residents, and yet I would still move into this stunningly appointed murdery apartment building full of good knits. These cozy costumes are the key to keeping Only Murders in the Building on the safe side of murder mysteries, the coziest of crime realms, comfortable enough to deal with the gory details of terrible violence. I truly hope Chris Evans’ sweater is proud of the legacy it has wrought.

Only Murders in the Building is now streaming on Hulu in the U.S.(opens in a new tab) and Disney+ in the UK.(opens in a new tab)



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