The Ugliest Ugly Christmas Sweaters Of The Season

The Ugliest Ugly Christmas Sweaters Of The Season

This is one of the ugliest Christmas seasons in recent memories -- and that's the way some clothing retailers want it.

Sales of Christmas sweaters purposely designed to be ugly are looking pretty good at this point, according to the companies that make them., which started making off-color holiday jumpers in 2009, claims it will sell tens of thousands of sweaters this holiday season, while is predicting sales of 30,000 ugly sweaters. Meanwhile, San Diego-based Tipsy Elves expects to beat the $3 million they had in sales in 2013.
As in all things, not just Christmas sweaters, ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. But there are certain standards that ugly Christmas sweaters must adhere to, according to Tipsy Elves CEO Evan Mendelsohn.
"If you are trying to go truly 'ugly, it's all about the embellishments -- the more garland, bells, balls, lights, and sequins you can attach to your sweater, the better," he told HuffPost.
Mendelsohn's company and Festified take the accepted ugliness standards and add a touch of tastelessness. Along with the garlands, bells and garish red and green patterns come subtly shocking pictures, such as a reindeer threesome or Santa Claus showing his butt crack.
Some people find the ugly sweaters amusing. Others, like fashion expert Bryce Gruber, think they may have gone too far."My brother-in-law told me how he saw some old lady in her 70s at a sports bar wearing a sweater that showed a snowman with a carrot in his crotch and two Christmas ornaments dangling below," she told HuffPost. "If the sweater is just ugly -- like too many rhinestones or sequins -- that's fine, but the holiday is not supposed to be about sexual snowmen."
Ugly Christmas Sweater parties first became a trend around 2001, and snowballed from there, according to the Atlantic.
"It started like any hipster movement. It was so ugly, it's cool," Gruber said. "It was hip in Brooklyn four years ago, but really only went mainstream last year."
Tipsy Elves
For every person like Gruber who is not a fan of the trend, there is someone like Lindsay Williams, a social media expert in Denver, who is obsessed.She has around 15 ugly Christmas sweaters -- everything from old ones that could have been worn by a cat lady back in the 1980s to the newer styles that are more fitted and cut.
"It's really fun wearing them," Williams told HuffPost. "You get weird looks or laughs. Everyone here in Denver has at least one for an ugly sweater party, but I wear them otherwise."
There is a limit to what Williams will wear."I won't wear any with bad words," she said. "My friend has one of Jesus that says 'Birthday Boy.' I'm not sure I'd wear that."
Tipsy Elves
Mendelsohn's company makes the "Birthday Boy" sweater, but says he hasn't heard too many complaints about it or any of the other edgier sweaters he sells."Every year, we get tons of positive feedback on our humorous designs. There will of course be the occasional person who gets offended, but it's usually the people that are looking for an excuse to be a grinch," he said.
John Keplar, the founder and CEO of, admits that some of his company's sweaters do push the envelope, but returns are rare."We did have a grandmother order our Red Rocket Rudolph sweater, and when she received it she called us immediately and told us that when she ordered, she did not understand what a red rocket was," he said. "She quickly returned it to us."
Fashion stylist James Cornwell says that even though ugly -- and edgy -- sweaters are in fashion, context is everything. What works at a party with friends might not work at a gathering filled with conservative relatives."You won't get as much criticism if you make fun of Santa or the reindeer as you might with Jesus," he said.
This might seem to be the "Year of the Ugly Christmas Sweater," but Cornwell thinks the fact that the sweaters go back on the shelf come Dec. 26 means the trend might not get played out for a few more years."We have not reached the peak," he predicted. "They are here for a while. People are even renting sweaters."

However, daring fashionistas who want to push the style envelope may want to take the advice of Tricia Eichler, the director of merchandising at, which sells T-shirts that look like ugly Christmas sweaters, but without the itch.

"If you really want to be a maverick of ugly Christmas sweaters, wear one for Christmas in July," she told HuffPost. "Now that’s true pioneering."

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