The tacky sweater phenomenon started out innocently enough. In fact, once, in the early 90’s, for about a week they were quite fashionable. Ladies in their mom jeans, white Keds sneakers, and turtle-necks slipped into their newly purchased holiday apparel and were the envy of every family gathering, neighborhood party, and book club around.
Now we find ourselves in a curious time. The twenty-something crowd has discovered this fashion must have from a decade gone by, and have embraced it with parties thrown for the sole purpose of displaying their thrift store finds. Held in tension to this hip crowd is the 40+ bunch that can’t wait to pull out the annual favorite replete with santa, trees, snowmen, and actual jingle bells. I would say the common thread between the arguably opposing groups is love. That’s right…love. Love for the sweater, love for the season, love for friends, love for family, lots and lots of love. Now the adjective “tacky” has been ascribed to these holiday hits but I would argue it is a term of endearment that we should embrace and celebrate.
So that is what this site aims to do; celebrate the tacky holiday sweater. We will post photos we find as often as we can. What we REALLY want is you to submit your favorite real-life tacky sweater moments. We hope you will. Here is our email, your photos and brief descriptions are welcomed: firstname.lastname@example.org
(we do reserve the right not to publish if the level of tacky is not what we’re looking for.
All-time, worst-ever, made-me-wanna-barf award goes to:
Things you need to know about this sweatshirt:
- It is 23 years old.
- It came from my mother-in-law’s closet.
- I made it.
The Christmas of 1989 my wife and I had been married for a total of four months. I was a junior in college working as a part-time youth director at a great United Methodist Church. My wife was a college graduate, but worked at Woolworth’s Department Store as the receiving manager. She made $4.11 an hour and I made less. We were broke.
It was also a time in history where fabric paints were the range among crafters and broke people. Woolworth’s provided an employee discount and payroll deduction benefit to their employees: we’ll pay you, sell you stuff at a slight discount, and then deduct the cost from your paycheck…brilliant, the money never leaves their store. Anyway, white sweatshirts were cheap and tubes of slick fabric paint were plentiful. We probably made 10 that year, including personalized ones for our young nieces and nephew – which their parents NEVER let them wear. I am still bitter. But we’ve come full circle. My oldest niece was searching work some tackiness to wear to a holiday party and what better place to look than her grandmother’s closet? Seriously, her closet represents fashion from more decades than the Smithsonian Museum owns – except her’s stop at about 1990. I digress. My niece finds this work of art and her fashion savvy husband snags it immediately. He knows quality when he sees it. I think he wears it well.
This was a fun one for me. I had completely forgotten about the sweatshirts of 1989. It is humbling to know that while I may be documenting the holiday sweater phenomenon, I too have made contributions. Perhaps in some small way my creations made a real difference to the world. I hope so.
Merry Christmas Adam (Adam comes before Eve).
I want you to see it first.
This picture perfect Christmas scene is complete with tree, lights, gifts, and schizophrenic sweater vest. Now schizophrenic does not necessarily mean dual personalities (although this sweater fits that bill), it actually means a break with reality. I believe both describe this sweater perfectly.
If you’ll notice, it is a patriotic santa sweater vest. As American as egg nog, ole’ Saint Nick, and the Fourth of July. So, when do you wear it? Christmas? The Fourth of July? Memorial Day? Presidents Day? I say ALL of them. We definitely could use a little Christmas time in the summer months, so why not some fireworks and flag waving in December? However, it does concern me where this might go: easter bunnies carrying jack-o-lanterns, Thanksgiving turkeys handing out Valentines, little green leprechauns wishing you a happy new year? Seems like a slipper slope to me…proceed with caution.
*special thanks to Laura for sending me the photo, Ashley for wearing it like a champ, and to Ashley’s mother-in-law for purchasing it (why, why, why?).
This is a dear friend of mine. Her tacky Christmas sweater (TCS) parties are what all other TCS parties aspire to be.
Rumor has it that she is a thrifty/creative soul too. This year she made her own party stemware: mason jars attached to dollar store crystal candlesticks = redneck wine glasses. I call them brilliant.
Now for her choice of apparel. I wouldn’t call her choice as much tacky as it is cheesy. One a scale of cheesy, the designer of this sweatshirt knocks this one out of the park. Our Lord and Savior has been cheapened, commercialized, and co-opted by nefarious types for years. My friend here is NOT one of those types. She is a church worker, as am I, and that gives us special permission to reclaim the cheesy, ironic, and sarcastic as our own and make it something positive and even virtuous. So, you go girl! Rock the cheesy! Raise your mason jar wine glass high and own who you are. You are an inspiration to us all.
As for those folks that have her that camo-nutcracker, you know who you are…bad form…bad, bad, bad.
Okay folks, I hear of epic tacky Christmas sweater parties happening in all corners…where’s the love? Send me some photos. Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com, now get to it, seriously, right now…send me photos.
Poor dogs…it’s one thing to make a personal choice to wear a tacky holiday sweater; it is another thing all together to subject your loyal four-legged companion to such ridicule. ALL the other dogs are making fun of these two, and the cats…the cats are all high-fiving each other as their campaign to humiliate dogs has been joined by the human race.
Poor dogs…this photo could serve as a PSA, “Please spay and neuter your pets, or have them wear tacky sweaters, the effect is the same”.
Really? Is that even a dog? It looks more like E.T.’s second cousin once removed. And who puts a photo of their dog on a holiday sweatshirt willingly? I’ll bet the rosy-cheeked vixen on the left made it for him and he feels obligated to wear it…with a smile, a creepy, creepy smile. Poor guy.
Another Grandma, but this one is scary. I am sure she didn’t purchase this sweatshirt this way. It had been modified..or overhauled. In fact, I believe the purpose of the shirt has changed completely. It is no longer a garment designed to keep one warm and celebrate a holiday, but has been altered to be a device used to blow up shopping malls, Walmarts, and Targets…or at least strike fear into the hearts of other shoppers so that they’ll move away from the modern-day Tickle-Me-Elmo and Grandma can walk our with her prized purchase with smug satisfaction. I’m scared of her just seeing the photo. If you see her pin real life, move to the side and do not make eye contact…perhaps you’ll be spared.
This one hurt my eyes…actually it hurt my brain. I think I have PTSD (PINK traumatic stress disorder). I have two beautiful, talented, smart, caring, and certainly better than I deserve daughters but they ruined the color pink for me.
I’m a pretty progressive guy. I wear pink dress shirts, ties, and occasional t-shirts. However my daughters were/are girly girls and our house glowed Barbie pink for most of their early childhood’s. You would not need GPS to find our house, just look across the horizon and follow the pink aura. It was kind of like radioactive cotton candy. Thankfully we have moved beyond that stage and my daughters have broadened their favorite colors to a more diverse color palate.
Grandma here apparently is channeling her inner Barbie. Pink and white in excess. If Stacy and Clinton were available they would trash this ensemble for sure as a prime example of what no to wear. If the pink and white weren’t enough (or too much), the silver bow sends it over the top. Is she a gift? If so, I hope she comes with a gift receipt. The pink Prada purse…it’s fake. Grandma bought it at the World’s Largest Flea Market at exit 57. Her granddaughters tried to talk her out of it to no avail.
If you look in your closet and find a pink reindeer sweater hanging next to a pair of white pants, do us all a favor and use them as kindling for your next holiday fire.
If Joey Tribbianni, a character on the 90’s hit show Friends, were to wear a tacky sweater…the result might be similar. Slightly inebriated, overly confident, with a style all his own, our modern-day Joey is working the same magic called upon by male party goers throughout the ages. But this dude has missed the mark.
Look in the background, this doesn’t appear to be one of those hip, ironic, and sarcastic parties I’ve heard so much about. This guy is rocking his ensemble all by himself…it’s quite possible he also made it all by himself. Here is how it went…”hmmmm, I have a red sweater, what to do…I know I have that check-list stocking that Aunt Betty gave me (what was she thinking?). I could attach it to my red sweater. Oh…and wait, I have a Rodney the reindeer; it would look awesome stapled over my kidney and my sister left her kid’s Santa bib here last week…that is definitely going around my neck. Watch out ladies, here I come”.
My response…fail. He went home alone for sure.