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The good, the bad, and the ugly… Christmas sweater

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Tis the season for holiday cheer, family, friends, cocoa by the fireplace, and… ugly Christmas sweaters. I could not pass up writing on the topic of ugly Christmas sweaters. Truthfully, I have been curious to find out how these sweaters came to fruition and how the craze began. So after a little research I have come to a few conclusions as to how and where these holiday gems originated.

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First, we saw ugly sweaters in general rise to popularity by the comedian Bill Cosby in the early 1980s and 1990s. Bill Cosby wore these ugly sweaters on his television show, The Cosby Show. Digging further into this matter I learned that the designer of the sweaters worn by Bill Cosby was KOOS VAN DEN AKKER. KOOS is a NYC designer who is famous for his “collage-type” designs. Clearly these sweaters are a piece of art in some fashion and form and they are quite unique; they should not go unappreciated. After all, these sweaters potentially started a holiday party trend decades later.

Fun Fact 1: KOOS has the honor of being the only designer to sell over one million dollars in merchandise in one hour on QVC, the television shopping network.

Continuing on this topic, I stumbled on the Urban Dictionary term, “Cosby sweater.” I hope I do not offend anyone by sharing these definitions but they are pretty hilarious.

def. COSBY SWEATER
A: An oversized, hideous looking sweater with ugly patterns and colors, often worn by old men or hipsters with no taste.
B: A sweater a senile, colorblind person would pick out.

A few years later we see more love for not only ugly sweaters, but we actually see the ugly Christmas sweater. We can thank another comedian, Chevy Chase, for showcasing these sweaters in the 1989 Christmas comedy, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Although these sweaters faded in the 90s, they have recently resurfaced as a “must have” for holiday parties known as “ugly Christmas sweater parties.” So in hopes of not being too uncool, one might ask, “Where can I get my ugly Christmas sweater?” I have the easy answer for you, and I state this with true Hoosier pride, UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com. This website was created by three Indiana State graduates, Adam Paulson, Brian Miller, and Kevin Wool.

The trio decided to make a website because they noticed an increase in ugly Christmas sweater parties in the mid-2000s; and at the same time they also noticed that people were having a hard time finding ugly Christmas sweaters. By 2009 the three men had their website up and running. Their inventory was first purchased at a local Goodwill store -- 50 sweaters for $75.00. Adam Paulson was sure that the $75.00 had been wasted. However, by the next day, all of the sweaters had been sold online. Today the website has roughly 15,000 sweaters ready for purchase.

Now that you know where to buy an ugly Christmas sweater, the next step is finding the ultimate ugly Christmas sweater party. I have another answer for you, Vancouver, Canada.

Fun Fact 2: The city of Vancouver, Canada claims to be the birthplace of the first ugly sweater party in 2002. Every year at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver a party is held and the dress code is ugly sweater attire.

As I wrap up my article, it is clear that ugly Christmas sweaters have a vintage Christmas appeal. These sweaters remind us of our childhood -- when Christmas meant going to bed early so that Santa could bring us presents. It means stringing Christmas lights outside with your dad and grandpa; baking holiday treats with your mom and grandma; sledding; making snowmen and snow angels; and snow days. These sweaters take you back to another time. Let’s face it, these collage-like designs remind us of our homemade elementary school ornaments and paper mache projects. The pixelated designs on these sweaters may even remind you of the first couple generations of video games.

It is probably for these reasons, the nostalgia of past Christmases, that we all wear goofy holiday sweaters. Ugly Christmas sweater parties allow us to be silly and giddy with the holiday spirit, as if we were all kids again. These sweater parties not only create new memories, but they let us reminisce about old memories.

So I urge every single one of you to splurge this holiday and buy an ugly Christmas sweater. Enjoy the holidays in style with battery-powered lights on your sleeve, and jingle bells on your collar. Don’t forget, Christmas only comes once a year and you do not want to miss out on the holiday cheer.

Please take a glance at my slideshow; compliments of mom's closet. Love you mom and no offense!

For more information on this topic check out the websites below:

http://www.vice.com/behind-the-seams/koos-and-the-cosby-sweaters

http://koosvandenakker.com/

http://www.uglychristmassweaterparty.com/

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