Ode to the Joyously Ugly
Ever get a bright, showy holiday sweater as a gift from your mom or great-aunt? Maybe your grandma knitted you something "festive"? Ever browse the racks in a discount store during Christmas madness?
To many, nothing says cheer like snowmen, Santas and bells in appliqué, yarn and sequins. Especially if the ensemble practically outshines the Christmas tree.
If you're like us, you probably have an old Christmas sweater or two hidden in your closet. Don't let it miss another excuse-filled holiday! Or, if you're feeling obligated to wear that sweater you got as a gift, flaunt it! So showy they're now ironic, "ugly Christmas sweaters" are sweeping the nation in the newest trend, bringing conversation and laughs to parties, bar crawls and office get-togethers. Not just for trendy guys, even young women are getting in on the fun.
The Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater Guy
Every movement needs its mascot. For the tacky holiday sweater crowd, this could be him. He's featured on the cover of Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater
Save the Sweaters!
By giving a second chance to your old Christmas sweaters, you'll be reusing something you already have. There's no need to buy any new fancy outfits, or drive to any stores. It's like toasting the Spirit of Christmas Recycling.
Pair your ugly sweater with a festive accessory or retro shades and you'll be cooler than a snowman.
Thumbs Up for Ugly
Crafter Anne Marie Blackman has made a cottage industry in Vermont refurbishing, embellishing and reselling ugly sweaters. She says all of her wares are "pre-worn, which makes them uglier." She adds, "Best are the sweaters from the '70s or '80s that have padded shoulders or bat arms or a wide waist band."
Blackman has made custom-ordered creations, as well as a range of designs from more traditional to more outlandish. Many contain lights, bells, faux antlers and various holiday knick-knacks. Blackman says those looking to suit up for an office party tend to prefer more conservative sweaters, while those who are anticipating a lively bar crawl tend to ask for the works. Some families also ask for "cuter" sweaters for holiday photos. Sweater dresses for ladies, sweater vests and dickey-style garments are all popular.
"I look at yard sales with a new eye," says Blackman. "I look at old holiday decorations that no one wants, and wonder how they would look as an accessory on a sweater." Now that some groups offer prizes for the "ugliest Christmas sweater," Blackman is often asked to push the limits of taste.
Blackman says she got into ugly sweaters after seeing some for sale a few years ago, and thinking she could do a better job. "Ive always loved creating costumes for event parties," she adds.
From Santa to Elvis
Dig Through Those Closets
This festive photo composite was made by Southern California-based pro photographer Tim Wheaton, who wanted to showcase his mother's impressive sweater collection. She could easily host her own ugly sweater party!
The Happiest of Holidays
Sweater Tie and Muffs
Alex Fleisig and friends had a great time at a recent ugly Christmas sweater party, and they got the photos to prove it. We love the creative way they reused old fabric! With a little thought, it's not too difficult to "recycle" other materials and turn even the most banal garment into an ugly holiday masterpiece.
The Sweater-Tie Combo
Shutterbug Angie Eason snapped this photo of her brother-in-law, and says this photo makes the rounds every holiday season. If you want your loved ones immortalized in a similar way, break out those festive sweaters!
Friends Let Friends Wear Them
If you don't already have an ugly Christmas sweater handy, don't fret -- there's a good chance one of your friends or family members has one in a chest or attic somewhere. Or, get to know your local thrift store. You never know what interesting neighbors you might meet on the garage sale circuit.
If you're like this guy, you can get a nice big teddy bear hug at the end of the day.
The Sweater Vest
Ah yes, the sweater vest. Classic! What better time to rock it than during the happiest time of the year?
Seldom Are Two Alike
Which do you prefer: a chorus of cats and dogs or an urban sleigh ride? When it comes to holiday cheer, the possibilities are truly endless. If sugarplums, then why not singing pets?
Contributed by A Guy Called Nick.
The Ultimate Sweater Party
Miles of brightly colored yarn make for one great evening with friends.
Abstract Christmas Tree Sweater
If appliqué Santas don't leave enough to your imagination, consider a more abstract design.
Mugs and Sweaters
It can also be fun (and warm!) to wear your ugly Christmas sweaters around the house, even if it's just you and your family (or pets, but we'll get to that). Even if you live alone, why not enjoy a little holiday cheer? No one's looking!
This fun image from an ugly sweater party by XDNR reminds us that you needn't necessarily hew to a strictly traditional imagining of "festive." At ugly sweater parties, in fact, almost anything goes. Especially if it's vintage (and obnoxious!).
Don't Sweat the Ugly
Think an ugly sweater will cramp your style on the dance floor? No way! Go ahead and cut the rug, you look great.
Toast Your Own Ugly
Raise a glass to ugly ingenuity.
Make the Most of 'Surprising' Gifts
Got an ugly sweater as a gift like Amancay Maahs? Cheer up: it's ironic!
THE Christmas Sweater
This one is called simply "The Christmas Sweater" by the photographer. We think we understand the source of this man's expression. It's hard to make out, but the ornament around his neck reads: "Oh Fiddlesticks!" Indeed.
Sweater Santa and Friend
The hat makes the man. But the sweater makes the ultimate festive man. Now that's a party!
Add your own great memories to the Ugly Sweater Project pool.
Three Sweater Amigos
There's nothing to see here... Just three friends in their finest.
A self-portrait from the administrator of the Christmas Sweater Round-Up Flickr photo pool. Upload your own?
Get Your Own Sweater
One of the best things about ugly sweaters is the chance to reuse a piece of clothing that might otherwise languish in your closet, or to patronize your local thrift store. But if you wait too long even the ugliest sweaters could get picked over.
In that case, we won't tell if you order your own from Alicia L, like this bold aqua blue number. ($138)
You'll be sure to turn heads around the punch bowl.
Brighten Up Your Day
If you're out doing holiday shopping with the kids or friends, why not pop over and check out the selection of sweaters? Even if you don't buy, you can get inspired to put together your own ensemble.
Who says ornaments are just for trees?
Hot Pink Sweater
Stand out among the crowds of red and green in this original Nutcracker sweater from Alicia L. Oh yeah, that's hot pink. ($138)
Jonathan Wakuda Fischer creates unique art that juxtaposes modern sensibilities with the pop expressions of 18th-century Japan. Applied to ugly sweaters, this was the result.
See what sticks to you.
All Hail the Snowman
Mike and Darci had a great time in their ugly Christmas sweaters. Make your own memories to last a lifetime.
Deck the Halls
Portland, Oregon-based Flickr user katiedills is passionate about Christmas. And sweaters. Luckily for us she's shared many of her seasonal ensembles in her photo collection. She knows how to work the holiday magic!
Don't Forget Dog Sweaters!
Nobody has to be left out. Ugly Christmas sweaters even look dashing on your furry best friends. These cheerful pups in Whitesboro, New York, agree.
Have a Happy, Dapper Holiday!
Judging by the fun photos, we're guessing "Christmas Sweater Fest 07" was a huge hit. Have a Happy Holiday this year too!