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Ugly Christmas Sweaters Are Actually REALLY Cute – A Cozy History of The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Sweaters featured with snowflakes, Santa Claus, and reindeer have been rocked by more and more people on Christmas and holiday season. Whether you’ve been invited to an ugly Christmas sweater party or you’re just looking for some laughs this holiday season, ugly Christmas sweaters are a fun clothing piece. If you’ve ever been to an ugly Christmas-sweater party, then you know the way is “go big or go home”. How much do you know about the story behind the joyful sweaters? Let’s get right into it!

Left:Skiing Sweater; Right: Knitwear Poster

Although the ugly design and the Christmas motif played an important role in ugly Christmas sweaters, the earliest version of this gaudy knitwear was not intended to be “ugly” at all, and it was not even related to Christmas. It had been suggested that the origin of knitwear traced back to hand-made pullovers for Scandinavian fishermen at the end of the 19th century. The traditional fishermen’s sweaters usually adopt two or more colors that are knitted with geometric patterns representing local areas. The humble winter kit quickly drew the attention of wealthy visitors who came for vacation and became a popular souvenir of their Europe trip. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Christmas-themed sweaters were produced on a large scale because of the mass commercialization of Christmas. The early Christmas sweaters were referred to as “Jingle Bell Sweater” that featured Christmas elements like reindeer, Father Christmas, snowman, you name it.

Left: The Huxtable family; Right: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

However, it might be the poor taste of fashion, the mass-produced Christmas sweaters saw decades of modest popularity. The shift came in the 1980s, thanks to the ‘80s TV shows and popular culture, ugly Christmas sweaters met a revival and hit the mainstream. The Cosby Show aired in the ‘80s was believed to be one of the triggers that facilitate the rise of ugly Christmas sweaters. Cliff Huxtable, the patriarch of the Huxtable family in this show was exactly an enthusiast of knitted sweaters with bright colors and fancy patterns. His passion for knitwear even led to a trend called Huxtable at that time. Comedies like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) also left an impression to the audience that outmoded sweaters were bonded with the cheerful vibe of Christmas Day.

Unfortunately, the heat of wearing an ugly sweater as a fashion piece didn’t last for a long time. By the 1990s, ugly Christmas sweaters became eyebrow-raising fashion mishaps and were abandoned by the younger generation. If you’re living in the ‘90s and received a Christmas sweater as a present, it almost can be assumed that ugly knitwear came from your unfashionable older relatives.

While people take off the sweaters to welcome the new millennium, the wheel of fashion runs around and brings back the ugly Christmas sweater, again. As suggested by the authors of “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On”, the resurgence of ugly Christmas sweaters in the new century was started from the first-ever ugly Christmas sweater party held by Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch at Vancouver, British Columbia in 2002. Since then, everyone from celebrities and politicians to whole families is wearing Christmas-themed knitwear, and the stupider the better. In recent years, some ugly Christmas sweaters distributors also collaborate with charities and organizations to raise money for people who need help, it made simple knitwear carrying more than joy, but also kindness.

In the new Hilarious Game collection of Cape Clique, we created a lot of different options of knitwear that can bring bright colors and warmth, come on and enjoy your shopping now!



Lauer, J. (2016) The History of the Ugly Christmas Sweater.

King, A. (no date) The Rise of the Christmas Jumper: A Brief History.

Cerini, M. (2020) A cozy history of the ugly Christmas sweater.

Santalla, V. (2020) The History Behind the Ugly Christmas Sweater.

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