It's Ugly Christmas Sweater Season — Share Your Best (Bad) Attire

Dec 13, 2014
Originally published on December 14, 2014 9:56 pm

Looking for a stylish sweater for the holidays? Forget cashmere. Instead, go for the light-up, dancing Santa.

This season, holiday shoppers are demanding the ugliest, gaudiest, tackiest sweaters out there. They need them for ugly sweater parties, ugly sweater fun runs — even an ugly sweater party cruise.

All that demand has had an impact on stores large and small. On the national level, Wal-Mart, Kohl's and Target all sell vintage-looking sweaters with all the bells and tinsel you could want.

And at Re-Love It consignment in Purcellville, Va., last year, shop owner Michael Oaks had 120 sweaters that quickly sold. This year, he stockpiled more than a thousand for the Christmas rush.

His customers on a recent day included a Southwest flight attendant shopping for the perfect sweater to wear over her uniform — "it's gotta be really, really gaudy," she says — and holiday party-goers who hope to out-tacky their competition.

So far, Oaks has sold 800 sweaters — and he just received an emergency shipment of 200 more.

Share Your Tacky Sweater: #NPRuglysweaters

Do you have the perfect ugly holiday sweater? Can you out-tacky Re-Love It owner Michael Oaks?

Post your photos with the tag #NPRuglysweaters on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and we'll pull together some of the highlights for a post Sunday night.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Looking for a sweater this holiday season? You know, cashmere is apparently so last year. This season, holiday shoppers are reportedly demanding the ugliest, gaudies, tackiest sweaters. NPR's Eleanor Klibanoff tells us more.

ELEANOR KLIBANOFF, BYLINE: Customers paw through racks and racks of Christmas sweaters. Strangers bond over the gaudy and the grotesque.

JOSHUA SMITH: Every one of them always is like, which do you think is worst one? I think I've heard that question more within the last month than I've had in my entire life. They all trying to win a contest.

KLIBANOFF: Joshua Smith works at Re-Love It Consignment in Purcellville, Virginia. Last year, shop owner Michael Oaks had 120 sweaters that quickly sold. This year, he stockpiled over a thousand for the Christmas rush.

MICHAEL OAKS: And, Josh, when I bought all these Christmas sweaters, what did you think I was?

SMITH: Crazy. I didn't think they were going to sell, I didn't. And I was wrong.

KLIBANOFF: There are ugly sweater parties, ugly sweater fun runs, even an ugly sweater party cruise. Wal-Mart, Khols, Target - they all sell vintage-looking sweaters with all the bells and tinsel you could want, which is apparently a lot.

KARI ANDERSON: That right there is a cardinal sang. They're furry. One, two, three, four - four velvety red cardinals, holly leaves, sequins - wow.

KLIBANOFF: If you're flying Southwest this season, you might see a sight coming down the isle. Flight attendant Kari Anderson has been shopping for the perfect tacky sweater to wear over her uniform.

ANDERSON: I figured that I would treat our passengers on the airplane to the tackiest sweater I could find. It's got to be really, really gaudy.

JENNIFER BECKER: It's a fun way to not feel like you have to keep up with the Jones' when you come to a Christmas party. So you can just be the tackiest, and we can definitely do that.

KLIBANOFF: That's Jennifer Becker. She's about to spend almost $200 on ugly Christmas sweaters. For these customers, there's no such thing as too tacky. Ten dollars gets you a slightly cheesy dollar, while the truly absurd go for up to $40. And people are happy to pay. Oaks has sold 800 sweaters this season.

OAKS: I had to beg one of my suppliers, go dig through your warehouse.

KLIBANOFF: The begging and the digging paid off. Yesterday, he received an emergency shipment of 200 more sweaters. Eleanor Klibanoff, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.