This holiday season there’s a good chance you’ll have an excuse to don an ugly Christmas sweater. Whether you’re invited to a party or perhaps just want to celebrate National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day to humor yourself, it’s fun to break out the ugly gear. However, if “ugly” (or “tacky” – they go by both) isn’t typically your style, or you’re not sure where to start but want to be a good sport, here are some tips to get you started….
Think thrift store – Thrift stores are the perfect places to begin your search for tacky sweaters, many straight from the 80’s. They’ll be authentic, and the more obnoxious the better. Patterns, sequins, shoulder pads, cheesy phrases, whatever you can find. However, I’ve noticed that these sweaters are getting harder and harder to find at thrift and resale shops. These days ugly sweaters are all the rage, so there’s a good chance someone beat you to the punch and scooped up all the good ones. If your trip to Goodwill leaves you empty handed don’t fret – there are other options.
Borrow – Ask around and I bet one of your friends or neighbors has one lying around. Or better yet, ask a Grandma. You might want to be delicate with this, though. Don’t ask to borrow her “ugly” Christmas sweater. Maybe just mention you have a festive event coming up – then promise to have it dry-cleaned afterwards? After all, nobody wants to hurt Grandma’s feelings. Then again, your cool Grandma may be going to an ugly sweater party herself (sorry, hipsters, it’s not just you!), so she may not be willing to part with hers anyway.
Online – check eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, etc. Or these days there are even websites specifically dedicated to ugly sweaters (now you know who’s cleaning out the thrift stores of these things). Sometimes they can be ridiculously pricey, especially for an ugly used sweater, but you can still find good deals now and then.
“Regular” Stores – Honestly you can find plenty of over the top clothes at “regular” stores. I saw a snowman vest that would certainly work with the ugly theme at Walmart the other day. Or try Stein Mart. They have a substantial holiday themed section that could most definitely produce some, uh, tacky apparel in a pinch (and, um… if you’re currently wearing a Christmas sweater from Stein Mart I certainly didn’t mean you – yours is decidedly UN-tacky, of course). Even Urban Outfitters sells them.
Customize – If you don’t think your sweater is tacky enough, get creative. Decorate with bubble paint, iron-on patches, pom-poms, felt, maybe sew some jingle bells on it? No matter how ugly you think it is, you can always add more. Get a plain red sweater vest and make it your own for very little cost. Bonus – it’s guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind.
“Close enough” to a sweater works, too – Again, if you’re stuck but don’t want to miss out on the fun think outside the sweater. A reindeer turtleneck will pass muster. Or even a cheesy t-shirt that says something like “The most wonderful time for a beer.” I promise if you show up with a denim vest with a snowman painted on the back no one will complain that it’s not technically a sweater. Close enough works, too.
Bottom line… Ugly Christmas Sweater parties are all about fun and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s not Halloween, where many people make it an excuse to get dressed in as sexy a costume as possible. Nope, tacky sweater parties are the opposite. Everyone looks like a dork. That’s the idea. It takes some work to look good in Grandma’s cable-knit sweater and jingle bell necklace (though some can pull it off better than others).
So have fun with it. Add your own personality. Laugh at (er, with) other people’s outfits while looking silly in your own.
Ugly Christmas to all, and to all a good night!