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For 11 months of the year, it’s probably tucked away on a shelf in your closet.  As soon as December is in full swing, it frequents your wardrobe more. It’s a staple for holiday parties, and family dinners. It’s bright, cheerful and very seasonal.

It’s your ugly holiday sweater!

The tradition of this sweater began in the 1950s. These knitted pieces mostly featured Fair Isle patterns, or cheerful depictions of snowy landscapes. They gained popularity and soon everyone was wearing them during the holiday season. During this decade, they were referred to as “Jingle Bell Sweaters” (Lauer, 2016).


The 1980s was the time when “Jingle Bell Sweaters” officially became “Ugly Holiday Sweaters”. Due to influences from the media and several popular television shows and films, these loud, outlandish sweaters made their mark. In the 80s, this holiday wear often featured pompom details and felt applique; they boasted holiday themed symbols, such as reindeer or snowflakes (Berry, 2011).

Who wouldn’t want to incorporate one of these sweaters into their collection after watching Chevy Chase play his iconic role as Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?

The millennial generation absolutely fell in love with this sweater. An obsession with nostalgia and also an ironic sense of humor was the perfect environment for the sweater’s resurgence. Parties that encouraged all the attendees don their “ugliest” holiday attire exploded after two Canadians hosted a themed event in British Columbia (Lauer, 2016). Now, not a season goes by without one of these parties.

High-end designers have also experimented with the trend on the runway.

This sweater can now be seen every holiday at large retailers, and their design gets more creative each year. In the year 2018, you can find ugly sweaters often featuring puns, and references to pop culture.

The tradition of the holiday sweater only seems to be gaining more traction, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. It’s the ultimate piece to make any outfit fun and festive.

It truly is the sweater of the century.

Written by Lindsay Kalliokoski

All links/sources can be found by clicking on the photo.

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