We’re willing to bet that everyone has a Christmas sweater memory. Like that one you “ironically” wore for a week in high school to prove that you were too cool for Christmas sweaters. How about that teacher you loved in grade school that blew your little naive mind when she wore a sweater with a blinking Rudolph nose? Or that scene you love between Bridget and Mr. Darcy in your favorite Christmas movie of all time.
Love them or hate them, Christmas sweaters have definitely become part of our holiday traditions. But how have these festive – if not always attractive – articles of clothing become such a big part of our American Christmas? Pour yourself a cup of cocoa and read on for a few fun facts about the history of Christmas sweaters (and why we love them so much).
Believe it or not, when Christmas sweaters first hit the holiday in the 1950s it was not done with ironic intentions. In fact they quickly became a Christmas fashion trend that the whole family could get behind – especially those hip, sock-hopping teenagers. It’s also no coincidence that Christmas sweaters emerged in the 1950s – about the same time the holiday became increasingly more commercialized. These holiday faves of the 1950s styled a more “muted” version of some of the Christmas sweaters you’ll find today but they still had all of the necessities like snow covered pine trees and oversized reindeer.
Christmas sweaters may have been around at holiday events since the 1950s but they didn’t really hit the mark as a “trend” until the ’80s when they started to show up in pop culture. Lovingly referred to as Jingle Bell sweaters by the 1980s, film and television shows started dressing their adored characters in overly festive (if not gaudy) Christmas sweaters for the audience’s amusement. Essentially it was the 1980s that planted the seed that Christmas sweaters were something to laugh at – a joke that seemed to fizzle out by the 1990s, when people lost interest in wearing sweaters as a punchline.
Christmas sweaters reportedly reemerged on the party scene in 2001 when two guys in Canada – nostalgic for the Jingle Bell sweaters of their favorite ’80s movies – hosted a big Christmas Sweater Party in Vancouver where everyone had to wear a classic Christmas sweater. Needless to say, people did not disappoint and the party trend began to spread. It wasn’t long before Americans were on board with this whole Christmas sweater holiday party theme and people were rummaging through thrift stores and attics for the perfect party attire.
By 2010 the Christmas Sweater Party trend was still going strong, and by 2011, major fashion designers were unveiling their take on an old classic as part of their much anticipated fall collections. Now thanks to two guys who really enjoyed a good inside joke, Christmas sweaters are a staple in our American holiday tradition and it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon. Struggling with what to wear with them? Try a pair of our velvet dress pants or corduroys to complete the holiday look.