Everything You Need to Know About Ugly Christmas Sweater

Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Once the Ugly Christmas Sweater makes an appearance, that’s the signal that the holidays and the party season are about to begin. It’s a phrase people often say to each other when December arrives. You can feel the Christmas atmosphere approaching on every street, whether it’s rows of sparkling decorated Christmas trees along the road or unique window displays from famous brands. Your outfit, including your sweater and pants, can easily immerse you in a lively Christmas party.

Holiday outfits can be any modern and stylish item. You can choose sequins, metallics, glitter, or combine the characteristic red and green colors from Santa Claus’s wardrobe with materials like wool, feathers, or knee-length coats to join the Christmas festivities. However, one item has always been in your (or your parents’) closet for a long time and never goes out of style – the “Ugly Christmas Sweater.”

The History of Ugly Christmas Sweater

When you mention colorful, vibrant sweaters adorned with Christmas-themed patterns all over, you’re talking about ugly sweaters. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this quirky idea originated. These sweater designs are believed to have been mass-produced starting in the 1950s when Christmas began to be commercialized. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that these sweaters gained popularity. 

Originally called “Jingle Bell Sweaters,” they were famously worn by comedian Bill Cosby. During that time, he consistently wore a wool sweater in his popular TV show called “The Cosby Show.” This item quickly became his signature look and gained public recognition. Koos Van Den Akker, a renowned American fashion designer known for striking patterns, is credited with being the force behind this Christmas sweater trend.

The ugly sweater also had its moment in the spotlight in American cinema when it continuously appeared in the classic Christmas movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” which premiered in 1989. Popular culture and comedy films changed the approach to the Jingle Bell sweaters. Since then, as the year-end festivities approach, people continue to choose ugly but humorous and somewhat adorable wool sweaters.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Nowadays

Nowadays, Christmas sweaters are no longer widely popular. They had become somewhat of a vintage gift that grandparents often chose to give to their relatives. However, it was only at the beginning of the 2000s that ugly sweaters made a comeback. In 2001, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” was released. 

During the family’s year-end party, Colin Firth wore an unattractive reindeer-themed outfit with a red nose, startling Bridget but potentially bringing a smile to viewers. Around the same time, Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch introduced the book “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book,” sharing that they had organized a Christmas party featuring colorful Jingle Bell sweater designs. This event unexpectedly became a cultural phenomenon shortly afterward: If you didn’t have a Christmas sweater, your year-end party would be considered the dullest!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties

Created based on the idea of having the ugliest and most uncomfortable Christmas sweater, these parties uniquely celebrate the holiday season. The winner of the party is often the person with the ugliest sweater, determined through a vote by party attendees.

During these parties, people enjoy Christmas karaoke, Pictionary carols, or even word games. They may also try their hand at the ugly sweater game: each guest is given a decoration (unbreakable) to hang on their sweater upon arrival. If someone says “holiday” or “Christmas,” the person who catches them saying it gets to take their decoration.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Fashion Trends

Ugly sweaters have made their mark on the fashion runway. In 2010, Riccardo Tisci introduced a dark, knitted sweater for Givenchy. Similarly, Dolce & Gabbana incorporated wool and Christmas patterns into snowflake-adorned clothing in the Fall 2010 season. Dior, Stella McCartney, Maison Margiela, Tommy Hilfiger, and other fashion houses joined the trend. Various retail brands such as H&M and Macy’s continued to make this item a staple every holiday season.

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Whether priced in the thousands for a high-end ugly sweater opting for a more affordable version available at retail stores on the streets, or even discovering hidden gems at the bottom of your closet, you can have a timeless and meaningful gift that exudes the festive Christmas spirit.


In conclusion, the ugly Christmas sweater, once considered a quirky and outdated garment, has experienced a remarkable resurgence in popularity, becoming a symbol of festive cheer and a cultural phenomenon. From its humble origins as a vintage gift to its transformation into a fashion statement embraced by renowned designers and fashion houses, the ugly sweater has woven itself into the fabric of popular culture.