Christmas is Getting Uglier: Decoding the Ugly Christmas Sweater Trend

09:11 December 12, 2019
By: Kimmie Tubré

The last two decades of holiday seasons have been filled with ugly sweater party after ugly sweater party, ad nauseam. From office parties to friendly holiday celebrations, it seems as if what started as a holiday fashion choice has turned into a full-on Christmas trend-a trend that doesn't seem to be ending any time soon.

The History

Of course, Christmas sweaters aren't a new phenomenon. In fact, these sweaters were quite the trend in the late '70s and into the '80s. It was a common site to see unattractive sweaters all over sitcoms throughout the '80s and early '90s. While worn all year round, the Christmas sweater is specifically ornamented in the customary holiday colors and with a traditional style and flare. They generally include holiday images, such as Santa, reindeer, snowmen, evergreen trees, and just about anything that represents the holidays. It's normal to see these sweaters elaborately decorated in multiple colors, including mixtures of red, white, green, gold, and silver.

This style of sweater is usually produced by knitting and can come in several different styles. The pull over (jumper) is one of the most common, along with the open cardigan and the button up, but let's not forget the sweater vest, which has also become a regular Christmas wardrobe accessory.

These knitted garments have been around for quite some time. Knitting is the process of using needles to loop or knot yarn together to create a garment or piece of fabric. It produces a warm material that is perfect for the usually cold holiday season. While this is an original method, today's demand for holiday sweaters has become so large that these sweaters are being made by several companies and in a variety of materials. It's not unheard of to see cotton holiday garments along with unconventional t-shirts, crazy socks, pants, and dresses.

While these sweaters were not originally meant to be made fun of, it became inevitable during the age of social media, when everything is up for ridicule.

Today's Christmas Sweater Craze

The resurgence of the "holiday sweater" seemed to pop back up in the early aughts and has become a trend that just won't die. During the holiday season, it seems as if every major store is filled with holiday attire. While the sweaters are now unacceptable to the norm of what's deemed as appropriate to wear. They have taken on a new set of titles such as "tacky holiday sweater," "ugly sweater," and perhaps most famously known as the "ugly Christmas sweater." These sweaters started to become popular on the holiday party scene, because dressing up in nice holiday outfits just wasn't fun or zany enough.

While there is no concrete proof of when these parties or terms began, the first official "Ugly Christmas Sweater Party" was held in 2002 at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, Canada and was put on by Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch and has become an annual event-the Commodore's Annual Ugly Sweater Party. Though Birch and Boyd have trademarked the phrases, "ugly Christmas sweater" and "ugly sweater party," but that only applies in the Great White North. Though they have taken claim to its origin, one can be sure that people have been celebrating Christmas in ugly sweaters
since long before 2002.

Why so Trendy?

If you have friends, a job, a family, a neighbor, or simply just know a few people, then it is highly likely that you have been invited to an Ugly Sweater party in your lifetime. They have become so normal that it is hard to avoid them. When it comes to the trendiness of these goofy holiday events, it's easy to know where to place the blame. Like everything else in the 21st century, social media seems to have had the heaviest influence on trendy festivities. Every year's holiday season is slammed with photos of and invites to Ugly Sweater parties.

The big question is: Will this trend fade away, as it did in the '90s? Or is it here to stay with us as a Christmas tradition for generations to come? Either way, the trend is currently stronger than ever. So grab your ugliest holiday sweater and simply join the fun.

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