Naughty, Nice or Ugly

Christmas Sweaters bring cheer, jeer

Posted 12/24/19

The holidays are upon us once more and countless jolly instigators of Christmas cheer are dusting off their most exuberant wardrobe fixtures to participate in the wackiest and tackiest tradition of the season.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Naughty, Nice or Ugly

Christmas Sweaters bring cheer, jeer

Posted

The holidays are upon us once more and countless jolly instigators of Christmas cheer are dusting off their most exuberant wardrobe fixtures to participate in the wackiest and tackiest tradition of the season.

Believe it or not, those outrageously colorful sweaters with all the frills in all the wrong places were once taken seriously (or were at least intended to be). Since the dawn of the 21st century, the festive pullovers have reentered the realm of holiday fashion in an ironically repulsive sort of way. But what has led to the seasonal phenomenon that makes millions of Christmas partygoers look oh so ho-ho-horrible?

One could scour the countless blogs online and still have trouble defining the exact history of what has become the Ugly Christmas Sweater. According to a piece published in Anythink Libraries in October, Christmas themed sweaters were first commercialized in the 1950s.

But like many clothing items considered over-the-top by the modern masses, the ugly sweater was popularized in the 1980s. It was famously donned by a number of sitcom legends of the time and repeatedly engrained into the minds and hearts of viewers.

The 80s were also the first time a Christmas element was added to the sweaters popularized by the television icons. This new marriage was, perhaps, symbolized best by Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which was ranked the second best Christmas movie of all time by Esquire in November, finishing only behind It’s a Wonderful Life.


As one of the decade’s biggest stars, Chase’s embracing of the style was an ultimate stamp of approval for those brave 80s souls who sported the garment unironically. Today, the popularity of Christmas Vacation brings the holiday classic to televisions and streaming devices across the world, further exposing one of the Ugly Christmas Sweater’s finest moments to audiences young and old. Those audiences, however, are laughing for different reasons.

The 1990s world of style appeared to have shunned the garment out of existence, but the current resurgence was born in the early 2000s, when it was embraced ironically and officially dubbed “ugly” by the court of public opinion.

According to a blog published on ThoughtCo. by Mary Bellis in November, the city of Vancouver claims to be the birthplace of the ugly sweater party after hosting an event in 2002. They have hosted the ‘Original Ugly Christmas Sweater Party’ every year since.

The phenomenon would then blow up with the advent of social media and soon reentered pop culture with appearances in films such as The Santa Clause and Step Brothers as well as some of the early 21st century’s most-watched television programs like How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family.

After wasting hours of quality, last-minute holiday shopping time combing the endless Ugly Christmas Sweaters online, one could conclude that the fad’s diversity is one of its most appealing selling points. Whether you wish to hideously represent your favorite brand, sports team, television show, historical figure or animal, there is an Ugly Christmas Sweater out there for you — and your options are growing rapidly.

According to Fox Business, Poshmark’s Christmas sweater listings skyrocketed in 2019 with a 44 percent increase from Oct. 1 to Dec. 10 compared to the same period of time in 2018. This is the case for a number of high-profile retail companies that have hopped aboard the bandwagon.

Locally, residents of Madison County could have stopped by the Madisonville Buc-ee’s to purchase their intentionally ugly souvenir for the first time in 2019. The convenience store chain has upped their game and entered the trend by popular demand.

“There has been a large request for us to bring those to market,” said Jeff Nadalo, general counsel at Buc-ee’s. “We have answered their requests and we think it is a great product that shows the spirit of our environment. A lot of very popular Texas brands have had sweaters like this come out recently and are we very excited that we are able to offer something that is fun and festive for the holidays.”

If the demand for the product continues, it is possible that we will see even more ugly sweaters from the company in the future, as we have with countless other brands who got in on the action. Considering the ugly sweater’s clear popularity, this could be a safe bet.

“Everything that we make, we try to make it fun and pertinent to what our customers are looking for,” Nadalo said. “There is a certain element with holiday sweaters and an expectation that they will be more playful and fun.”

The craze has reached a point where there is now a National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, which is officially the third Friday in December. It is celebrated nationwide with parties and charity events. The holiday within a holiday was established in 2011.

Whatever your age or style, retailers are bound to have an Ugly Christmas Sweater to fit your wildest and hideously-brilliant desires this holiday season.

Comments