When it comes to holiday parties, ugly is the new hot. In case you haven’t heard, ugly Christmas sweater parties—to which revelers wear their tackiest holiday sweaters, and sometimes hats, vests, and accessories too—are all the rage in certain pockets of the United States.
If you already own a laughably ugly holiday sweater—one adorned with frolicking reindeer, giant snowflakes, oversized candy canes, or any other Christmas icon commonly found on holiday wrapping paper—you’re good to go. If the sweater in question is adorned with flashing lights, bells, or sequins, that’s even better.
But if all your holiday clothing is just too nice, a wide and possibly itchy selection of ugly Christmas wear is just a click or two away at e-tailers like uglysweaterstore.com, myuglychristmassweater.com, buyuglysweaters.com, and uglychristmassweaterparty.com, the latter operated by “Team Ugly,” a trio of twenty-something guys from Crown Point, Indiana—Brian Miller, Adam Paulson, and the aptly-named Kevin Wool—who purchase sweaters from thrift shops and re-sell them on their site, typically for $20-25 each.
“We’ll go into a thrift shop and drop $500 on sweaters,” begins Miller, who says business is brisk enough that he’s currently spending 25 hours a week photographing merchandise and filling orders.
According to Miller, the sweaters that appear on uglychristmassweaterparty.com need to meet two criteria. “Obviously, they have to have a Christmas theme,” he begins, and they have to be funny. “Typically, if a sweater makes us laugh we throw it in our shopping cart,” he continues.
But it's a mistake to assume that all ugly sweater vendors keep the emphasis on ugly. For instance, the California girls at baadsheepuglysweaters.com use sex appeal to sell—and possibly acquire—their merchandise, quipping that they get their “woolen delights from old people too frail to defend themselves and grammar school teachers they have seduced.”
In fact, the Baad Sheep site is not only filled with pictures of scantily-clad Baad girls Amy, Brandy, Melissa, and Natalie, who have taken it upon themselves to model the merchandise (in sunny and oddly un-Christmaslike locales), almost all of their sweaters—which sell for $30-45—are identified by sexually suggestive monikers. For example, there’s Santa’s Huge Package, Frosty the Ho Man, and My Candy Cane is This Big. The girls don’t even seem to mind if you have no interest whatsoever in sweaters or parties, as “you may still find something here that inspires exciting nights.”
Of course, it remains to be seen whether sites like these can continue to thrive long-term, as ugly Christmas sweater parties may be nothing more than a passing fad. But Miller is confident that the mix of alcohol and comically-bad outerwear is a winning formula. “We think that ugly Christmas sweater parties will someday be as big as Halloween parties,” he concludes.