18 November 2012

Ugly Christmas Sweater Competition

I'm not a joiner when it comes to company activities. I shun the salsa contest (I don't cook), take vacation during Bring Your Child to Work Day, and schedule dentist appointments to coincide with the all employee meeting. My company is great, don't get me wrong, many employees enjoy the time and effort spent to put on these functions, but they're not really my bag.

So when the email went out inviting participation in an Ugly Holiday Sweater competition I deleted it out of instinct, but then I got to thinking. This could be something...

I love awesomely bad taste. I love the movie Mommy Dearest, I love the Chicken and Waffle Cone, and I love William Shatner singing cover songs. Finding just a sweater that's totally wrong in all the right ways really appealed to me. Also, it gave me a reason to play around with Pinterest.

A Brief History of the Ugly Holiday Sweater

What began as a homemade gift from your favorite aging relative became an industry unto itself -peaking in the 1980's (blame Cosby). After going into remission for the better part of the 90s (when ugly sweatshirts had their time in the sun), Ugly Sweater Parties became a "thing" starting in the early 2000's (The Atlantic.com, 2010). By the end of the decade, an Ugly Christmas Sweater sold on eBay for nearly $300.

In 2011, a how to book called Ugly Christmas Sweater Party was released, and the concept jumped the shark. Now, at last, it's come to Orange County.

Next let's discuss the various species within the modern Ugly Holiday Sweater genus. 

The Traditional
I actually kind of like this sweater. If I wanted to impersonate a Scandinavian person I'd get one of these.

Think of four objects that remind you of the holiday season.
Start knitting.

The parallel design is most commonly found in cardigan-style sweaters. The example pictured below also includes fringe, an element disturbingly common in Ugly Holiday Sweaters. 

Obnoxious Pattern
If you look at this pattern long enough, a 3-D Dinosaur will appear.

Zee Goggles, Zey Do Nothing!

Wall Street wasn't the only industry to OD on technology in the 1990's. 

Winter Scenes
Why stick to one color for your sweater when you can use all of them?

Applique and Objets d'Art
I think the candy cane neckline on the green one (below) kinda works. As for the second sweater, it just makes me want to breathe into a paper bag.

While the sweaters shown above are arguably hideous, I would not consider any of them competition-grade. For the big day, I need a sweater that combines bad taste and sincere effort into a marriage where the whole is greater than the sum of its applique parts. 

It's important that the sweater isn't trying too hard, or worse, that it's been modified to deliberately create a gag (see below).

Nor is it fair to get a purpose-made ugly sweater, in my opinion. The humping reindeer sweater is funny, but it seems like cheating.

Because the ugly sweater competition will happen after this post goes live, I will not reveal the sweater I ultimately chose. Please stay tuned...

I'll leave you with some thoughts on the genius of hideous from the guy who designed the Cosby sweater.

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