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Ugly Christmas Sweaters Spread Far and Wide

“Ugly” Christmas sweaters have been around for decades, but their popularity has been soaring the past few years. Many people are dressing up in festive knits throughout the winter holidays; some because they think it is “ironic” to don the garments of yesteryear, others because they just like the way they feel in them.

With bright colors and bold designs, it’s no surprise that ugly Christmas sweaters can be a lot of fun. Most popular in the U.S., the trend is also spreading through Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and even reaching into some developing countries.

Original vintage tacky Christmas sweaters from decades past are now highly sought after, and many sell for around $200 on eBay. Historically, many people scoured thrift stores, estate sales, and rummage sales for ugly finds, but those sources are increasingly picked over.

As a result, several companies have popped up online to offer an increasing array of ugly delights. And in the past few years, some of these designs have taken on epic proportions. Many have added lights, 3-D ornaments, and even sound effects and moving parts (mostly through modification of motorized stuffed animals).

People are donning ugly sweater-style dresses, jackets, and vests. Many are also making their own festive holiday apparel, by adding fringe, sequins, garland, or other items from their craft closets.

An ugly sweater-making party can be a great way to get the family together for a holiday craft. Various ugly sweater Christmas parties are also sweeping the globe, put on by friends, families, and many organizations, from churches to companies and charities.

There’s even a campaign that raises money for cancer research…by asking people to don ugly sweaters.

Ugly sweater mania has spread beyond Christmas, to HanukkahKwanzaa, and even Thanksgiving and Halloween.

See many more hilarious photos of ugly Christmas sweaters in my new book Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater and on my website.


Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.


  1. Kim
    October 10, 2014, 12:58 pm

    Great post and love the candy cane sweaters!! Ugly sweaters are one of my favorite things about the holiday season. I usually get a new one every year at http://www.ugly-sweaters.com as they have a HUGE selection of new ugly sweaters every year.

  2. Juku
    Austin, Texas
    December 13, 2012, 12:03 pm

    wow, these are verrrrrrrrry ugly sweaters!! great job

  3. Andrew M
    December 11, 2012, 12:46 pm

    And now there are tees for those having trouble finding sweaters. http://www.sweatertee.com

  4. Brian Clark Howard
    December 10, 2012, 9:48 am

    Ha, good one Ima Ryma!

  5. Ima Ryma
    December 8, 2012, 7:17 am

    The ugly Christmas sweater craze
    Intensifies more each yuletide.
    Tiz the season to don this phase,
    And spread the ugly far and wide.
    I’m selling sweaters on eBay
    For two hundred dollars a pop.
    Colors and lights and sounds that say,
    “C’mon all you suckers and shop!”
    But nothing nasty or obscene.
    I sell sweaters that only be
    All biodegradably green,
    As in ecofinancially.

    My ugly sweater sales abound.
    I’m gonna sell them all year round.