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Buying guide for Best women’s ugly Christmas sweater

Few things say “holidays” like the ubiquitous ugly Christmas sweater. What began as a tongue-in-cheek fringe movement has now become a widespread phenomenon. A quality women’s ugly Christmas sweater will keep you warm, get you into the holiday spirit, have a garish appearance, and hopefully solicit a few chuckles here and there.

Before you commit to a women’s ugly Christmas sweater, there are some key factors to consider. Colors are a fun place to experiment, even beyond the expected red and green. Also, consider whether you want a sweater with known Christmas figures. How obnoxious of a sweater do you want? Bells, sequins, pom poms, and glitter are all within reach.

women's ugly christmas sweaters
Feeling bold? Trying wearing two ugly Christmas sweaters at once. A red crew neck with a multicolored cardigan, for example, can achieve the perfect color clash for a pleasantly distasteful look.

How to buy the best women’s ugly Christmas sweater

Christmas sweaters date all the way back to the 1950s in the US. With the postwar boom and the advent of television, the commercial appeal of the holiday was just beginning to grow. These mass-produced sweaters were another sign of the times. Soon, an entire family could partake in the then-unironic fun. These 1950s sweaters were called “Jingle Bell sweaters” at the time.

Thanks to a few cult classic films like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Christmas sweaters resurged in popularity during the 1980s. At this time, the Christmas sweaters were seen in a gaudier light (and perhaps on trend with much of the outlandish style of the decade). The ugly Christmas sweater as we know it originates from the early 2000s. In 2002, two Canadians held the first Ugly Christmas sweater party at a Vancouver ballroom, a festive and intentionally cheesy event. From there, the ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon skyrocketed. Now, you can find women’s ugly Christmas sweaters at department stores, high fashion boutiques, and thrift stores alike.


As is the case with typical sweaters, the material is a critical consideration when looking for a women’s ugly Christmas sweater.

Quite a few women’s ugly Christmas sweaters are made from a synthetic material like polyester. Synthetic sweaters tend to be the most budget-friendly. They can be soft as well. Some synthetic sweaters include spandex for extra give. The downside of an ugly women’s Christmas sweater made of synthetic fabric is quality. Synthetic materials break down faster. They may pill after a few washes and start losing shape.

For durability, stick with natural fibers. Cotton sweaters will retain shape better and still keep you warm. They’re also not terribly expensive, are fairly easy to maintain, and aren’t itchy! The downsides are that cotton doesn’t wick away moisture well, nor does it maintain heat.

Wool sweaters are, hands down, the warmest choices. It’s a common sweater material that’s high-quality and long-lasting, if cared for properly. Wool sweaters include sheep’s wool (probably what comes to most people’s minds when thinking of a wool sweater), alpaca wool, and rabbit angora. A wool sweater will definitely cost more than cotton or synthetic, but it will also last for years. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use a wool-specific detergent and gentle washing for the best maintenance.

If you feel like splurging a bit, consider a women’s ugly Christmas sweater made from cashmere. For most of us, cashmere is associated with luxury. A cashmere sweater will be incredibly soft to the touch and incredibly warm. Naturally, cashmere sweaters are quite expensive. Because of the fineness and quality of the fibers, a cashmere sweater is best cleaned by hand or by a professional dry cleaner.


Even if you only plan to wear your Christmas sweater around the holidays, you want it to fit just right. With a well-fitting sweater, the shoulder seams will align perfectly with your shoulders. The arms should be big enough that you can comfortably raise your arms over your head but not so big that the cuffs go past your wrist. The fabric along the chest area shouldn’t pucker at all. It shouldn’t be loose, either. For length, the sweater should sit right at the belt line. Your body should look proportionate in it (of course, if you want a cardigan you may opt for a longer length).

Some may prefer a looser, oversized fit. You’re always welcome to go up a size or two for a relaxed fit. If that’s the case, we recommend pairing it with fitted pants. You can even style an oversized sweater like it’s a dress!

Sweater type

When you think of women’s ugly Christmas sweaters, chances are you’re envisioning a pullover. This is likely the most common ugly sweater type, but it’s certainly not the only one.

Sweater vest styles are also popular for women’s ugly Christmas sweaters. Technically, a sweater vest is a pullover as well. Sweater vests can be easily layered with a long sleeve underneath.

If you’d prefer to remove your ugly Christmas sweater more readily, consider a women’s ugly Christmas cardigan. An open cardigan is great for lounging. If you’re feeling festive, look for one with some Christmas-themed buttons. While not as common as cardigans, you can similarly look into zip-up women’s ugly Christmas sweaters.

Ugly Christmas sweaters extend to sweater dresses, too! A woman’s ugly Christmas sweater won’t be too different from a regular sweater, save for the cut and length. You can go for a fitted bodycon dress or a sweater dress that’s loose-fitting.

You can save money on a cashmere women’s ugly Christmas sweater by opting for a cashmere blend rather than 100% cashmere.


What features do women’s ugly Christmas sweaters have?

Colors and patterns

The classic ugly Christmas sweater colors are green and red, naturally. You can up the “ugly” factor by opting for sweaters that incorporate three colors or more. It’s not unusual to come across women’s ugly Christmas sweaters that incorporate multicolored Christmas lights, for example.


Now comes the fun part. The icing on any women's ugly Christmas sweater cake is an abundance of extras. Think of pom poms and glitter. You should also consider some 3D elements, like a sweater with a big bow tied in front like a present. It’s fun to wear sweaters with recognizable characters like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus, or Frosty the Snowman.

The best embellishments on women’s ugly Christmas sweaters will engage multiple senses. A sweater with tiny bells will be fun at any party.

women's ugly christmas sweaters
Don’t forget to take note of small details. A good sweater should lay flat on a surface. Neither the seams, buttons, nor zipper (if the sweater has one) should curl upward.

How much do women’s ugly Christmas sweaters cost?


The price range for women’s ugly Christmas sweaters isn’t too different from that of regular sweaters. In the $10 to $20 range, many of the women’s ugly Christmas sweaters consist of synthetic fabrics or a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics.


The $20 to $45 range will greatly widen your options. It’s definitely possible to find 100% cotton sweaters in this range. Women’s ugly Christmas sweaters at this price will come with more obnoxious — or should we say, ugly — options, such as pom poms or literal jingle bells.


If you have more than $45 to spend, you may consider a 100% cashmere or 100% wool sweater. Some of these sweaters may be a touch more tasteful in design, while others will be wildly garish. Some well-known high-quality sweater retailers also manufacture women’s ugly Christmas sweaters.

If your budget allows, look for a women’s ugly Christmas sweater made from a single material, such as 100% cotton. These sweaters will hold up better in the wash and won’t pill as quickly.



  • Keep your women’s ugly Christmas sweater in tip-top shape. Check the label for special washing instructions or to see if it’s dry clean only. When in doubt, hand wash with cool water or use the delicate cycle on your washer.
  • Objects can have sweaters, too. If you’re really into ugly sweaters, or you’re the one throwing an ugly Christmas sweater gathering, make your whole home festive. There are ugly Christmas sweaters for beer bottles and for pets, as well.
  • Consider folding your sweaters instead of hanging them. Hangers can cause lumps in the fabric over time.
women's ugly christmas sweaters
The jazzier the sweater, the more upkeep it requires. It’s best to send a heavily ornamented sweater to the cleaners.


Q. Can I wear an ugly women’s Christmas sweater after Christmas?

A. There’s nothing stopping you from doing so. You may get a few looks, but January and February are still winter months for many. And it is still a sweater, after all.

Q. Why are ugly Christmas sweaters considered ugly?

A. What makes an ugly Christmas sweater is its tackiness and poor taste. An overload of designs, colors, and embellishments is enough to assault the senses.


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