Ugly Christmas Sweaters

December 25, 2011 by staff 

Ugly Christmas Sweaters, If tacky holiday apparel is any indication, the secret to selling people something unattractive might be to tell it like it is. Which might explain why ugly Christmas sweaters — it’s all a matter of perspective, of course — have been disappearing rapidly from the racks of local thrift stores.

For the past several years, the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party and concept behind it have been picking up in popularity to the point that secondhand stores are struggling to keep the prized gaudy articles in stock.

“I went to one Goodwill store and they were literally picked clean,” said Newark real estate agent Aaron Parks, who was fortunate at the second stop in his hunt to find a “diamond in the rough”: an emerald green sweatshirt with a puffy snowscape, covered bridge, horses, bows on the sleeves and “glitter all over it,” Parks said.

He wore it to an office party and to Walmart, where “the amount of attention and conversations and reactions I got from people was almost overwhelming,” he said.

Locals are finding the parties — or just the unexpected seasonal donning of a tacky, loud and oh-so-gaudy relic of yesteryear — are a great way to rustle up some laughs and even a bit of competition as to who has the ugliest.

So what makes a truly ugly Christmas sweater?

Selections on — one of numerous websites devoted to the sale of the prized articles, not counting eBay — fit into a number of categories: Ugly 1980s, celebrities, lights and Holy Grail, a category whose subsections include features such as “bling,” “3D,” “fringe” and “vest.”

It’s true: many of the items wouldn’t have gleaned a second glance in 1987. And because not everyone might understand the intentionally humorous nature of the trend, thrift store staff have to be careful about how they broach the subject with customers.

In other words, “Is this for an ugly sweater party?” is a question salespeople usually avoid until the buyer admits to his or her intentions.

“There’s the occasional one that’ll come in and they don’t say anything, and you don’t want to ask,” said Kathy McLaughlin, owner of The Pink Poodle Consignment Boutique in Heath.

She recently sold a sweater with holiday-adorned flamingoes and intends to host an ugly sweater party in 2012 at the store, which carries mostly name-brand and high-end consigned items.

For ugly Christmas sweaters, however, she’ll make an exception.

“We actually have lots of people come in and buy them,” she said.

Kyle Fancher, Internet director at John Hinderer Honda in Heath, said he and several co-workers were planning to wear ugly Christmas sweaters all day today at work — “Just to have some fun,” he said.

Fancher will sport a women’s vest he found at Walmart with “a snowman, some Christmas trees and some sparkly snowflakes,” he said.

He’s hoping his co-workers will join the fun.

For Parks, the humor in his newest favorite holiday fashion accessory is too good to pass up.

At a church Christmas party, he said, “there was a scavenger hunt for ugly items, and everyone put my name down.”

For the shirt, of course.

As for his family?

“They think I’m crazy,” he said.

One thing that can be said for the hard-to-find ugly Christmas sweater: It puts a new spin on stressing about what to wear to a holiday party.

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