How many Ugly Sweater Parties have you been to over the last few years?
It occurred to me while attending my third Ugly Sweater sweater themed party this season, I needed to do a little research about this tradition.
Who really started this trend?
In the 80’s, according to an Urban Dictionary, a “Cosby sweater” is an oversized, hideous looking sweater with ugly patterns and colors, often worn by old men or hipsters with no taste, and named after the actor/comedian Bill Cosby. He wore a lot of ugly sweater while acting on ” The Cosby Show “.
Now, I don’t think we all gathered around the TV in our big 80’s sweaters and idolized Bill Cosby—and his iconic sweaters…but I can see the connection.
Koos Van Den Akker was the designer behind the wild collaged sweaters worn on TV that established Koos’ reputation with the rich and famous. Soon after Bill Cosby was seen sporting Koos’ vibrant and inspiring sweaters, famed notables such as Chuck Norris and Richard Simmons.
For years, I have thought this tradition was started with the age-old tradition of Grandmas and Mother-in-laws gifting itchy wool sweaters. Finally one day someone decided to throw a party to show off their ugly sweaters!
When did the parties start?
Vancouver, Canada claims to be the home of the first ugly Christmas sweater party in 2002. The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver holds a ball each year where ugly Christmas sweaters are the mandatory dress code. This year marks their 13th annual party… who’s going this weekend?
The best ugly sweater’s have a story behind them. I seriously have a few including a turtle neck that has belonged to my hip 80-year-old Grandmother.
Most friends will buy from a Goodwill or gently used store that stocks them on purpose and marks them up for the season. The newest trend this year is making your own or buying sweaters and vests 3 times too small and adding accessories such as fun glasses or ties and hats to the look.
Whatever the reason, Tis the Season to be silly with friends, slightly awkward with the buddies, laugh with strangers on the bus and most of all, celebrate gathering as friends to celebrate the love the Holidays.
Jimmy Fallon is even throwing an Ugly Sweater give-a-way to his fans. Tweet a photo of yourself in your best (worst) holiday sweater with the hashtag #12DaysOfChristmasSweatersContest and mention @FallonTonight in the tweet, between now and December 19th. Here is his “fine print” …The failure of Sponsors to comply with any provision of these Official Rules due to an act of God, hurricane, war, fire, riot, earthquake, terrorism, act of public enemies, actions of governmental authorities outside of the control of Sponsors (excepting compliance with applicable codes and regulations), or other “force majeure” event will not be considered a breach of these Official Rules… Will you win?
My prediction is this trend will go away some day. But for now—keep an over the top Holiday sweater, a snowman sweatshirt and that jingle bell vest hanging in your closet to dust off for those December parties. Now when someone asks at the party “when did this Ugly Sweater thing start?” You will have a few random facts to announce to the slightly intoxicated group.
Stay stylish and be kind this Holiday Season,