"Best $2k I Ever Spent!" The Ugly Holiday Sweater Style Guide

by Alex Gilman · December 16, 2010

It's getting cold everywhere, even here in Los Angeles, forcing some of our colleagues to flee for warmer, sweatier, more humid places, like the basement of any bar in Manhattan. Luckily, there's a simpler solution for this strange, uncomfortable feeling of being cold that we're waking up to lately. LA residents, it may be time to cover our bare forearms. But don't stress out, hipsters, you can do it in your own ironic way!

So what separates a great ugly holiday sweater from a merely standard one? Let's see how some research and photos from the annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party helped us find out!



Ugly holiday sweaters, more than anything, are about the tableau: unlike a boring, regular sweater, your ugly holiday sweater should seek to represent as many holiday themes as possible. Obviously, this is a lot easier if nothing has to mirror or match. Our guy on the left here is rocking a classic example, a sweater that looks like a 1st grader's sketchpad: a snowman here, some trees over there, a patchwork heart in the corner- the more, the merrier. Meanwhile, as wonderfully out of place as the weird Red Robin patch is, our man on the right is rocking a sweater that could otherwise conceivably be sold at the Gap or something- taking it immediately out of contention for a truly classic UHS. Also, note the detail work on the guy-on-left's sweater: the zipper attachment, the pastel buttons, the collar stitching. If it doesn't belong on a sweater, it belongs on your holiday sweater. [Photo via]

Deep Cuts

Regular crew-neck sweaters are for your dad and people who hang out at the front room of Trousdale. Again, the goal is to stand out, so don't be scared of the deep-V party cardi, the turtleneck, the poncho, or any other style that will only serve to accentuate the uniquely bizarre features of both your sweater and your body. Now if only we had a photo with a better look at the sweater behind the guy shooting. It has serious potential. Still, bonus points for matching molestaches!

PS- Captain Goatee in the background is a prime example of how you can look more like a douche when you're afraid to just sack up and get a truly ugly sweater. There's an Old Navy mannequin somewhere missing its sweater. Remember ladies, always keep a drink-testing kit with you when you go out! [Photo via]


Sure, 99% of Ugly Holiday Sweaters are red, and they probably ought to be. But that just means you've identified an opening in the market. Like this skinny Drew Carey-looking gentleman on the right, wearing a color that you only see on Christmas if you've poisoned Santa's cookies. And it doesn't stop at pukey green, check out the teal and orange on that bad boy, to say nothing of the sparkles.

Look, it's really simple when you get down to it. The only way to embarrass yourself during an Ugly Sweater party is to worry about embarrassing yourself, and half-ass it. It's the holidays. Embrace the ugly.

Sad final note: as a Jew, I would love to see ugly Hanukkah sweaters (or any non-Christmas tradition) represented in photographs. Unfortunately, extensive internet searching has revealed that they make several varieties of Hanukkah sweaters for dogs, but tragic few for human beings. If you know of a good source for non-Christmas Ugly Holiday Sweaters, don't be shy. Let us know.

[Bottom three photos via facebook]