Ugly sweater trend encourages spirit


Junior Marissa Soumokil showcases her festive sweater.

Jacqueline LeBlanc

Junior Marissa Soumokil showcases her ugly sweater.
On a warm September morning, while many are basking in the season’s last moments of sunshine, the spirit of Christmas stalks the halls of RBHS.
Junior Connor Crabtree charms his peers with a Santa Claus hat, Christmas socks and a festive sweater, eagerly informing those who walk by with the number of days until Christmas’ arrival.
While many Christmas lovers may look forward to sweater arrival early on, the countdown is a year-long event for Crabtree, routinely beginning the day after Christmas. Because of his devoted love for the holiday, Crabtree also wears his tacky Christmas sweaters all year rather than the weeks leading up to Christmas. He believes sights of red and green Christmas sweaters help build his anticipation for his favorite day of the year.
“I’m like that little kid who’s always thinking about Christmas no matter what time of year it is,” Crabtree said. “I wear [my Christmas sweaters] year-round. In the past years, I haven’t really worn Christmas sweaters except like one or two days, but I’m starting to wear sweaters more often because I can just go and easily get one.”
The stereotypical, ‘ugly’ Christmas sweater, a fad famously worn by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show and Chevy Chase in National Lampoon Christmas Vacation in the ‘80s, is seemingly making its way back into closets. Some even go as far as hosting themed ugly Christmas sweater parties, which there was a noticeable uptick for beginning around 2001 according to the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On.
According to Google’s Insight for Search, inquiries into ‘ugly Christmas sweaters’ were at its highest peak search volume of all time last December and are currently continuing to rise. Nikki Pyatt, manager of Maude Vintage, agreed the rising popularity of Christmas sweaters has been true in Columbia, attracting a range of people from young children to older couples. Maude Vintage sells themed Christmas sweaters all year with at least 60 different sweaters in stock.
“We do sell them all year. We kept a rack at the back of the store all year long and then, come about this time of year, we move them up front so we could have a better display,” Pyatt said, ‘We actually draw people into the store [that way], because we see people walk by, and they’re like ‘Oh my goodness, Christmas sweaters!’ It’s unbelievable.”
The Christmas sweaters that Maude keeps in stock usually range from $12 to $35. Pyatt said that last year, Maude Vintage ran out of stock at least two or three times before Christmas, which is why they’ve chosen to make the sweaters one of their more costly items.
“Most of the time, average clothing is less expensive than what we do with Christmas sweaters, since there is such a high demand for them,” Pyatt said. “We had to price them higher so we can actually keep them in stock because we couldn’t keep them stocked last year.”
For many, the excitement of seeing wool sweaters decked in sequin snowmen and garlands sewn in yarn enhances the reality of an upcoming holiday season. Crabtree said wearing Christmas-themed apparel all year allows him to maintain his Christmas enthusiasm.
“Every smile I get [from my sweaters] just makes me more excited, and when people don’t really respond it doesn’t really bother me,” Crabtree said. “Christmas isn’t for everyone and I understand that … It’s just something that’s different.”
Much like Crabtree, junior Bella Gebhardt’s favorite holiday is Christmas, which she celebrates with her extensive collection of sweaters. Gebhardt said the trend, though initially popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s, has understandably made a resurgence.
“They say everything comes back in style eventually,” Gebhardt said. “I guess because our parents wore them, a lot of people already have [Christmas sweaters] at their houses, and someone somewhere started a statement by wearing one, and it must have caught on because they are so easily accessible. They’re popular because they’re easy.”
Some sweaters that are part of Gebhardt’s collection include a red one with green stitching and a blue sweater with a snowman and snowflakes. Her favorite is the one that says “Snow in Love.” Gebhardt said that although she never particularly looks for a new Christmas sweater, she often comes across them in random stores.
Even though Gebhardt wears her sweaters frequently and finds the trend to be entertaining, she eventually believes the fad, like most, will cycle out of style. She said once the trend has faded, she will most likely continue to wear her holiday sweaters, but not in public.
“The holidays only last so long,” she said. “It’s kind of a challenge to find a really good one, and you don’t want to look crazy. When people literally laugh at you, then you’ve crossed a line.”
Regardless, for most Christmas sweater-lovers alike, the aspect of holiday sweaters only enhances the joy and spirit of the upcoming holiday season. Crabtree firmly believes that as he grows older, his enthusiasm toward Christmas and holiday sweaters will stick with him and inspire those around him to love the holiday just as much as himself.
“I like [the trend]. I like the whole Christmas year round because it makes me happy year-round,” Crabtree said. “Even when I’m maybe in a bad mood or something, I can just think about it. It’s kind of like my safe place; I can think about it and be happy.”
 By Jacqueline LeBlanc
What is your favorite Christmas sweater? Tweet @RBHSBearingNews. We want to see what you are wearing this holiday season.