History of the Ugly Sweater Trend

History of the Ugly Sweater Trend


History of the Ugly Sweater Trend

When December rolls around, you can’t swing a candy cane without hitting someone wearing an ugly Christmas sweater. And your inbox is probably full of invites to ugly sweater parties. But where on earth did this trend get its start? Why is everyone celebrating hideous Xmas apparel? And most importantly, how can you become a part of this history?

Flash Back to the Eighties

Ugly sweaters have been around for a long time. In the very old days of hand-knitted clothing, most of these hideous sweaters were probably created on accident. Someone forgot to knit one, purl two, and the piece just came out looking wonky. Later on, crafty grandmas probably thought they were doing their grandkids a favor by accenting winter wear with garish decorations. But sweaters that were designed to be hideous on purpose, first came on the scene in the 1980s. The Bill Huxtable character on The Cosby Show offended the fashion sensibilities of American audiences for eight years by wearing oversized sweaters, ornately designed with oddly offbeat patterns. Then in 1989 Chevy Chase added his own Fair Isle twist to the theme, as Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie. It wasn’t long before ugly Christmas sweaters became a favorite holiday apparel item.

Let’s Get This Party Started

It seemed the tacky sweater might die out in the nineties, but the early 21st century saw a resurgence from (unsurprisingly) Canada. Vancouver could probably be considered the ugly Christmas sweater capitol of the world, because that’s where two gents came up with the idea to celebrate the season, with the very first tacky holiday sweater party. Somehow, it wasn’t enough to have people randomly walking around in unattractive sweaters. There needed to be a way to accumulate all that cheesy festivity in one place to exponentially boost its power. The party was a smash hit, and soon similar events were showing up all over the Northern Hemisphere. Ugly sweater parties (and ugly jumper parties in the UK) went from small gatherings to massive events—often put on in support of charity.

How the Ugly Sweater Scene Has Evolved

Once people started attending this type of party, it was natural for the one-upmanship to begin. Today, ugly sweater contests are the highlight of the season, with everyone trying to find the most appalling apparel. The sweaters themselves have gone from almost accidentally tacky in the eighties, to deliberately outrageous today. Specialty clothing companies and major retailers alike have taken this trend to heart and are coming up with the most shocking and humorous designs. To formalize the entire affair, December 15th has been declared “National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day”.

As more people get in on the action, it’s becoming quite a challenge to claim the prize for ugliest sweater (which is why we work so hard to create winning designs!) But regardless of how the trend has changed, it’s still about having the maximum amount of fun and keeping the party going for future generations to enjoy. We hope you’ll join us in making this holiday the most hideously hilarious ever.


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