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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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In Holiday Guide Commentary

Ugly Christmas sweaters: still fun or just done? (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Social Circle: Thoughts on the "ugly Christmas sweater" trend?


Welcome to a weekly segment called "Social Circle." It's a group effort between readers, social networkers and the OnMilwaukee.com editors. Every Monday, we ask a question via Facebook and Twitter and then post the responses from our Facebook "likers" and Twitter followers in this column. Well-known Milwaukee movers and shakers will contribute, too.

The trend of wearing an "ugly" Christmas sweater is believed to have started around 2001. Sweaters that people used to wear for real were sported in an ironic way. You know, as a joke.

People started throwing "ugly sweater parties" which inspired guests to comb thrift stores in search of the most hideous holiday cardigan, V-neck or pull-over that they could find.

Many of the sweaters are red-and-green overload and have way-too-whimsical versions of Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees or ornaments.

Pom-poms or felt appliques get extra points in the ugly sweater game that some believe was originally started in the '80s by Bill Cosby's character, Cliff Huxtable, in "The Cosby Show." Because of his seemingly-never-ending collection of brightly-colored, mostly acrylic sweaters with a curious mix of geometric shapes and patterns, Cosby unintentionally became an ugly sweater icon.

Today, you can buy new ugly Christmas sweaters at numerous stores, including H&M and Nordstrom.

This week, OnMilwaukee.com asked the Social Circle for its thoughts on this trend that is now more than a decade old. Are the yuletide yarns still fun or do they make you want to shoot your eye out?

Brian Brehmer: "It only hurts those who gave the sweater with sincere feelings not thinking it's ugly, but it's a fun game."

Maggie Cain: "I think it's silly to buy ugly clothing. I agree with the French: buy only clothes that make you feel sexy and sophisticated, or boho chic, or sporty, or whatever you want to be. Buying clothing that is ugly on purpose is just bizarre to me."

Christina Casiano-Novakovic: "Happy its only two months out of 12."

Eric Dohr: "I prefer the Cousin Eddie turtleneck, dicky, skinny pants and white fake gator shoes look."

Diane Hardy: "I was at an event and wasn't sure if a guy was wearing an ugly sweater on purpose or not. Then his wife walked up and I realized she was also dressed in one. After I chatted them up, I realized they did it for fun. It's silly but I think the sweaters are hilarious."

Susan Higgins-Larkey: "Wishing I had saved some of those awkward gifts I received in the early '90s. They would be big sellers at the resale shops."

Baba Jean: "Love it."

Paul Kennedy: "Baby Jesus started the trend with his ugly swaddling clothes."

Marilyn Mee: "I'm all for anything that helps out places like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Aside from that aspect, the funniness has pretty much run its course."

Sheila Neumann: "I'm over it."

Bjorn Olaf Nassett: "I think it's fine for the party aspect. I did a piece on a kid here in town that's making big bucks re-selling them online. Paying for his college education that way! Plus when you buy them from Goodwill, or wherever you are supporting your community. Hideous holidays begin!"

Mattheau Recht: "So five years ago. Get a new idea for a party!"

Nina Schmidt: "It was funny the first time. Are people still doing it?"

Trevor Smith: "As a hipster, I was wearing ironically ugly Christmas sweaters long before it was cool. Now it's just too mainstream so I'm celebrating the holidays in new ways that you've never even heard of."

Stephanie Soltes: "Some people won't get the irony of it. And you're still wearing an ugly sweater."

Velia Tarnoff: "Enough already. That 'trend' is more than a decade old."

Ruth Weill: "I guess it's cute but some of the sweaters are SO ugly!"

Shelly Willems: "Love it! We do a bar crawl every year! Plus ugly sweaters that would not sell well at Goodwill fly off the shelves. So, to the trend I say, 'Thanks for supporting our mission.'"

Caitlín Zhenotdel: "I'll take all your unwanted ugly sweaters and re-knit them into one large sweater for my house."


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