The rise of ugly Christmas sweaters began in the late 80s when sitcom televisions stars like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’s Chevy Chase rocked oddly patterned sweaters. The recognizable trend slowly trickled into the 90s, but had a boom in 2001 that lead to a steady incline of popularity to date. Celebrities, TV hosts, and department stores are some of the many partakers in this festive tradition.

The Obsession

The obsession with ugly Christmas sweaters originated with the idea of nostalgia. The vintage patterns, bright appliqués, and sewn-on adornments remind us of how it felt to experience the magic of Christmas through a child’s eyes. Americans are obsessed with nostalgia – as well as fashion aesthetic – and ugly Christmas sweaters are a solid combination of both.

The ugly Christmas sweater is a step away from typical fashion trends. The garment is actually viewed as a rebellion against fashion norms, and now ugly Christmas sweaters are celebrated internationally and even have parties dedicated to their unique appeal. In fact, the first ever self-proclaimed “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” was hosted in Canada in 2002, and it continues to this day at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Ever since then, you will likely attend at least one ugly Christmas sweater party every holiday season.

Sweaters Today

Due to the expanding demand for these festive frocks, more and more retail stores release new designs and patterns each year. The sweaters range from classic holiday icons, to Llama-related jokes, to even LED-infused jumpers (batteries not included). There are ugly Christmas sweater inspired leggings, sweatshirts, hats, and even scarves.

Will YOU be wearing an ugly Christmas sweater this holiday season?


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Sarah Viens
Written by Sarah Viens
A twenty-something-year-old learning how to navigate life’s paths through Spotify playlists and her fashion blog. Sarah is a Jr. Copywriter and the voice behind our social media as well as the ALEX AND ANI blog.