Once Upon an Ugly Christmas Sweater

by Amanda Murray December 17, 2015

Once Upon an Ugly Christmas Sweater


Ah, the ugly Christmas sweater. Along with grandma’s secret eggnog recipe, aunt Myrtle’s stale fruitcake, and the 400 th pop cover of Last Christmas, nothing quite defines the holiday season like a garish, oh-so bold and bright ugly Christmas sweater.

Everyone has one buried deep in the back of their closet that makes its unheralded return to the spotlight every December for an office holiday party, or a family photo shoot, or simply on a dare. The brighter, the more festooned, the better.

Here’s the thing. Back in the 80s, ugly holiday sweaters were just…sweaters. Warm and comfortable and festive sweaters yes, but just sweaters. They were worn earnestly and joyously, setting the tone for the season and adding a touch of holiday cheer to any occasion.

Only in hindsight do we recognize the iconic sweaters of Cliff Huxtable and Clark Griswold as being irredeemably ugly. And yet the fashion still endures (albeit ironically) even as we stand on the brink of 2016. In fact, ugly holiday sweaters are becoming even more coveted as the years pass, with the advent of ugly Christmas sweater parties and contests and feats of one-upmanship.


The History of the Ugly Holiday Sweater

Unfortunately, there is no definitive or simple timeline of the ugly Christmas sweater. People speculate that the trend dates back to at least the 1950s, when knitting patterns of Christmas trees, snowscapes, and other imagery of the holiday season come into fashion. Sweaters became more bedazzled and glittering as the years passed, but in full earnestness. It was only towards the 2000s that people began to poke fun at the garish fashion choices in celebration/horror of the tackiness - the first ugly Christmas sweater party took place in Vancouver, Canada, in 2002.

What Makes an Ugly Christmas Sweater Beautiful

If you’re going to embrace the ugly holiday sweater trend this holiday season, we say commit to it fully! You can’t call it an ugly Christmas sweater unless it has the following characteristics:


  • Color . Ugly holiday sweaters should be bright, vibrant, and reflective of the spirit of the season. Bright reds, greens, and blues are usually standard, but pops of white and yellow work too. Think of holiday colours (white snow, green pine trees, red Santa’s suit etc.) and you’re on the right track.
  • Imagery . A plain red sweater is a good start, but it doesn’t quite qualify as an ugly holiday sweater. To really make the cut, it should have some degree of holiday imagery – Christmas trees, Santa hats, reindeer, snowmen, snowballs…
  • Charm . Finally, to earn its rightful place as an ugly Christmas sweater, it has to be charming. It should bring a smile to the face of anyone who comes across it and instantly brighten their holiday season.


From JNCO to you, we wish you and yours a warm and happy holiday season!

Amanda Murray
Amanda Murray

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

News & Updates

Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more …