One person’s “ugly” “Christmas” “sweater” is another person’s treasured forever purchase. I, for one, am keeping these in rotation, for as long as Hong Kong temperatures will allow for layers beyond singlets and cotton jersey.
What makes a sweater “Christmas”? More than that, what makes a Christmas sweater “ugly”? As a fan of the oversized and occasional lumpy knit, it’s a quandary I consider often; my Everest! If your NYR from last year includes becoming a shopper that’s a little more conscious or a little more considered or a little more another synonym that makes you feel better about your purchases, a wear-once-a-year design might be something you can no longer justify adding to cart. Same! Me too. As a Person Living In Hong Kong, I, too, do not have space in my very small wardrobe for a throwaway piece that might be considered too “ugly” — or, really, too season-specific — to wear on a cold, un-festive day.
So, here’s to sweaters and cardigans and sweater vests that switch out elves and reindeer and mistletoe for vaguely festive lines of argyle. Maybe a Fair Isle yoke that’s lost its rigid patterning. A colour palette beyond maroon red and forest green.
Dress Code: Ugly Christmas Sweater, But Make It Trans-Seasonal
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- AMI Paris's Ami de Coeur sweater
- Burberry's Jacquard-Knit Cashmere-Blend Sweater
- Ganni's Slogan Jacquard Recycled Wool Cardigan
- Rag & Bone's Annalise Faire Isle Wool and Cashmere-Blend Sweater
- Stella McCartney x Ed Curtis' Patchwork Jacquard-Knit Wool Cardigan
- The Vampire's Wife's Velvet-Trimmed Intarsia Merino-Wool Sweater
- Versace's Fringed Patchwork Wool Sweater
- Twenty Eight Shoes' Retro Winter Christmas Cartoon Sweater
- Chinti & Parker's Slogan Intarsia Wool-Cashmere Blend Sweater
Look, it’s forest green, garnished with a touch of AMI Paris’s signature red. The classic Christmas combination; the kind that feels either “much too early” or “much too late” when worn defiantly in the context of months that are very much not December. But this version, with its ratio very heavily leaning towards verdant, merely whispers “festive”. It barely sounds! So, wear it year-round. Or, at least, through winter.
A Fair Isle knit is, for all intents and purposes, graphic shorthand for all things cosy and festive. Not this from Burberry, though. Not quite. Cast in the brightest of yellow and ocean-spray blue, this sweater is a delicious feast for the eyes — and will wear just as convincingly through the dead of winter into spring. Summer, even, in a glacial, air-conditioned room.
Now you wouldn’t expect a humdrum, no-nothing jacquard knit from Ganni — Danish superbrand with hands in some of the coolest prints on the RTW roster at the mo’ — would you? Of course not. Racing in lined stripes of festive-adjacent graphics that exchange jingle bells and Santa Claus for smiley faces and paisley swoops, this Ganni knit can be worn home for holidays — then back again after; to uni, to work, on vacation. Choose your own adventure!
Rag & Bone’s Annalise sweater understands the assignment. Thank you for your participation, Annalise. With Fair Isle striping stripping off like remnants of acrylic from a yet-to-be-restored painting, this sweater is festive-plus; festive — and then some. The off-white colourway of the rest of the piece makes it pretty much a neutral. Almost!
Like a bauble-strewn Christmas tree or a toiled-over honey-glazed ham, some things are just poised to take centre stage. This Stella McCartney wool cardigan — made in collaboration with multi-disciplinary artist Ed Curtis — has all the trimmings of a Main Character design, with its very loud colours and very loud mish-mash of patterns. And in the spirit of the season, share and share alike. The piece is, as are all cardigans (?), unisex. Gift for him and her.
The kitty-cat on this The Vampire’s Wife sweater — if you must know, is based on an illustration from the 1910 children’s book Twice Three is Six — is wearing a warm, velvet bow. Festive! She’s snarling, yes, but who’s not a little on edge during the holidays? Add to the festive kitsch with your very own velvet green bow in your hair. And maybe wear a smile, instead. A wan one. There you go.
Officially, this sweater is cast in a close-to-neon orange, but for the sake of this particular season, let’s say it’s red. It looks red! Bright red. There are even frothy cuts of fringing and arbitrary swatches of tartan to really hit home: “Winter ‘Fit”. Then, come January post festive jamborees, it’s orange once again.
There’s no denying it; Christmas has detonated across this Twenty Eight Shoes sweater — it’s only missing tinsel-accented sleeves and a little mistletoe dangling at the nape of the neck. This piece, however, introduces a colour palette beyond red and green, with colours like cornflower blue and orange injected to make it a more… inclusive design. For those who don’t celebrate. From far away, it’d even look like a Fair Isle jacquard.
Whether you’re Team Ski or simply someone who’d, really, prefer everything avant- and après-ski (see: warming glasses of mulled wine permanently attached to fingertips), this Chinti & Parker sweater is vaguely festive with its fun rainbow-striped cuffs, but mostly just black, sleek and winter activity-related. Go full Chalet Girl with ski goggles for the party, then, to brunch in this with jeans. Easy.