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It's Christmas Jumper Season! Why Ugly Is The New Cool!


Blue Christmas jumper

by Irene Feeney Steele


When it comes to annual Christmas jumpers, beauty is most certainly in the eye of the beholder! Over the last decade, the ugly Christmas jumper has firmly embedded itself in yuletide culture. You know the type – it’s usually woolly or other questionable fabric, in loud shades of white, red and green,

with at least one Christmas-inspired motif on it – e.g., a snowman, reindeer, Santa, or candy canes – not forgetting random pieces of tinsel or pom poms hanging from it. Extra points if it has lights that resembles a Christmas tree or bells that jingle all the way!


Christmas jumpers have become an essential part of the holidays. They are tacky, loud and almost obnoxious but also fuzzy, joyful, wholesome and spark childhood memories – the fashion equivalent of a Hallmark Christmas movie and let’s be honest, for a lot of us that is a guilty pleasure. Right?


Personally and those who know me – will know I am a massive Christmas jumper fan. In fact, I actively seek out the controversial garments around about this time of year – every year! The tackier the better in my festive book and if it matches my sequins (they always do!) – even better.


It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Christmas jumpers hit the mainstream. The shift came thanks to pop culture and comedies with goofball dad characters like Chevy Chases’s Clark Griswold in ‘National Lampoons Christmas Vacation’ turning the ugly jumper into an unexpected but endearing expression of cheer. After experiencing a period of uncoolness in the 1990’s and referred to as the

jumper only older, old-fashioned relatives would wear – the Christmas sweater enjoyed an almost trendy resurgence and evolved into a new festive holiday tradition. The turning point came when Colin Firth’s character Mark Darcy got shamed in the 2001 hit film ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ for wearing ‘that’

ugly knitted jumper featuring a giant red-nosed reindeer. Comical it was for sure – but also heartwarming. It wasn’t long after that until luxury fashion houses such as Givenchy, Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabbana followed suit releasing their own gaudy Christmas jumper designs.


2012 saw the launch of Christmas Jumper Day, a fundraising event by British charity – Save the Children – which encouraged people to don their most cringeworthy sweaters. Since then, there has been no stopping the frenzy that is the ugly Christmas jumper and its popularity has snowballed. In the

US, talk show host Jimmy Fallon even started running a regular segment called ‘12 Days Of Christmas Sweaters’ which still airs today whilst ugly Christmas jumper runs, pup crawls, office parties and festive events are an annual occurrence. But more than anything, it has been the rise of social media that has heightened the ‘It’ status of the Christmas jumper. Today, we compete to show off our Christmas jumper love and purchases on Instagram – be it matching sets with our family and friends or finding the most obscure, tacky garments.


The fashion doesn’t stop at sweaters though; you can now find ugly Christmas earrings, socks, pyjamas, cushions and so much more. The tacky list is endless! Retailers have also honed in on the whole Christmas family- matching phenomenon on jumpers and pj’s in particular, with some even including the family dog! Personally, I love a matching Christmas – jumpers and pjs, it’s one of my favourite holiday traditions and I adore the fact that you can don an ugly sweater throughout the festive period and it is now (finally) seen as a trendy and cool fashion statement.


Remember…one person’s ugly Christmas jumper, may be another person’s exciting nod to the holidays.



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