Ugly Sweater Weather

Tina Lernø, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
lots of ugly sweaters

It’s December, which means it's ugly sweater weather!

Do you have your ugly sweater ready? Will you wear it to a family dinner or the office holiday party? Why on earth did this happen in the first place? It seems no one really knows for sure; maybe elves or pom pom manufacturers are to blame, but once it started (somewhere around 2001), it had no sign of stopping with retailers in the US fueling the trend with an ever growing ugly supply.

There are game shows dedicated to the ugliest holiday sweater and segments on late night talk shows, and holiday movies usually include a scene or two with cringe worthy fashions. (Check out Bridget Jones’ Diary for a prime example). There are even books on the subject of course.

Animated GIF from Bridget Jones Diary

Some people are wearing them ironically and others may not even realize it’s a thing and just feel extra festive and fancy. We went digging through our Vogue Archive to see what we could pick out of fashion’s history for the ugliest sweater around.

Back then no one really used the term “ugly” so we suppose it’s up to us to debate who gets that honor.

painting of sweaters in frames
Vogue Archive: Vol 92, Dec., 1938
two women wear light blue sweaters
Vogue Archive: Vol 128, Nov., 1956
women wearing a hooded orange sweater
Vogue Archive: Vol 140, Dec., 1962
women wearing a vest with gold stars
Vogue Archive: Vol 169, Nov., 1979
women leaning on weather wood fence in ugly sweater
Vogue Archive: Dec., 1983
women wearing a red hat and herringbone sweater
Vogue Archive: Dec., 1988
photo of hands grabbing a sweater in different directions
Vogue Archive: Vol 180, Oct., 1990
women wearing patterned sweater and long skirt
Vogue Archive: Vol 206, Nov., 2016

Check out our Vogue Archive for yourself where you can search through 125 years of fashions some beautiful, some trendsetting, and yes, some just plain ugly!