Man, That’s Ugly!


Reindeer, ornaments and snowmen knit right in … it’s Ugly Sweater Party Season!

With Michigan’s lake-effect snow creating a winter that seems to last longer than all other seasons combined, sweaters are an essential and highly practical article of clothing during the holidays. But, what went wrong at the North Pole that moved Santa to put that first dreadful pullover under someone’s tree, and turn this wonderful time of year into the official season of the Ugly Sweater?

As the story is told, the ugly holiday sweater trend dates back to the 1950s, when Christmas became increasingly commercialized. Originally mass-produced under the name, “Jingle Bell Sweaters,” these elaborate winter-scene garments were not meant to be worn sarcastically. Why have only basic sweaters in your wardrobe when you could have that one, special knitted creation that you proudly wear just once a year?

RTimages /

RTimages /

In the 80s, pop culture influence brought the ugly sweater back into the spotlight, when a popular television sit-com about the loveable Huxtable family featured a patriarch with an interesting taste in sweaters. The popular comedy film, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, released in 1989, became a cult classic, with scenes of Clark Griswold and his family sporting some truly ugly holiday sweaters.

The Ugly Sweater almost died, thanks to the 90s, only to be reborn bigger than ever around 2002. This is when the Ugly Sweater Party trend is said to have begun, which snowballed from simply borrowing an aunt’s garish holiday sweater for the one-night festivities, into swanky themed soirees that have further elevated the celebration of such attire.

Chalk it up to nostalgia, to breaking every rule of fashion – if only for one day – to irony in the best way, the Ugly Sweater may be here to stay.



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