clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The History of the Ugly Christmas Sweater

Turns out millennials didn’t invent them.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

The “ugly Christmas sweaters” trend may evoke millennial internet culture, but the habit of wearing ugly holiday sweaters has been around for decades.

Cozy sweaters featuring reindeer and Christmas trees first got big in the 1950s, when they were viewed as an entirely charming, non-ironic fashion choice. It was in the 1980s that the flashy, boldly tacky versions we know today emerged, then referred to as “jingle bell sweaters.” They were still seen as uncool, though, worn mostly by dorky dads.

It wasn’t until the 2000s, unsurprisingly, that young people reclaimed them and, with a heavy dose of irony, started throwing Ugly Christmas Sweater parties. Eventually, because of course, mainstream retailers like Forever21 and Nordstrom caught on.

So now you don’t have to sift through a thrift store bin or your parents’ closets to get a sweater suitably humiliating for your next Ugly Christmas Sweater party...

Follow Racked on YouTube for more videos | Like Racked on Facebook to never miss a video