There is no accounting for taste. And this the season for a showy display. Wearing garish kitschy Christmas sweaters has become a significant fad and the theme for many holiday fêtes. Contests to find the ugliest and most obnoxious has even influenced several youth-focused apparel labels to oblige the demand. However, putting on a Christmas sweater doesn’t need to be a conspicuous act of irony. Maybe it’s time to transcend the vulgar and embrace subtleties of pastiche with a sophisticated style.
Knitting is a domestic art and picking up the needles often meant a practical objective. It conjures images of grandmothers with chunky yarns and olden days of homespun materials. In Ireland, the wool sweaters from the Aran Islands has its history with handmade garments for fisherman keeping them warm when out on the cold sea. The thick textured pullovers typically knitted vertical patterns of repeating diamond or rounded and characteristically kept the natural color of the wool. With rugged vernacular charm, the style became a classic design that is still popular today including as a holiday gift. It is the quintessential sweater. It’s not hard to envision oneself in front of the fire with a hot frothy drink while donning the wooly knit. Today, avant-garde designers recall the icon by deconstructing and accentuating the texture of the cable, some even keeping with the natural neutral color, a testimony to the notable pattern. The overall relationship to the original is clear and the humble becomes dramatically chic.
The all too familiar so often offers inspiration for a fresh approach. Another repeating diamond pattern is the iconic argyle. The distinct angular design originated in Western Scotland with the Clan Campbell of Argyll and later popularized by the Duke of Windsor in the 1920s. The versatile geometric scheme can be kept to its preppy look with darker or neutral hues or pumped up with brighter and more saturated and provocative color combinations for a funkier revamp of the old-fashioned. For the season combinations of red and green shades is a prime holiday choice. For a tinge of irony maybe show off some matching, or clashing, socks.
In the 1970s, knitted pieces became quite fashionable, particularly spurred by the craft and counterculture movements. Numerous knitwear designs of rich or contrasting color, patterning, and more structured silhouettes graced the pages of fashion magazines such as Vogue. Knitted sweater sets and dresses with chevron and stripe patterns became an enduring signature design of the Italian fashion house Missoni proving pizzazz doesn’t mean tacky. Knitted clothing eclipsed the fisherman’s wear and tartans to become party clothes.
A classic holiday argyle pattern. (Public Domain Pictures)
Winter and holiday celebrations call for festive attire and sweaters can provide both cozy comforts without sacrificing fashion. Creative interpretations have refreshed old modes by playing with proportion, color, and technique. Holiday and winter motifs such as snowflakes, poinsettia, stars, and reindeer don’t require gaudy means. I particularly admire a design by Chinti & Parker showing Rudolph rendered in white simple lines on a black sleek sweater. The refined cut and length of the seater are reminiscent of 1920s fashions. Markus Lupfer takes an otherwise kitschy image–a beaded and sequined puppy perched inside a Christmas stocking or a panda with a Santa hat–and reinvents it by placing it on an understated, finely woven neutral sweater. Along with classically and swanky accessories, it makes for a superfly stunning ensemble. Low culture charismatically becomes a high class. A little glitz can go a long way. For the holidays, some appliqué with sequins and satin can add just the right amount of glamour without getting too flashy. Aran sweaters are a gorgeous and long lasting alternative to traditional Christmas sweaters. Our selection of Aran sweaters is unique and you can easily find the perfect option for you.
Home and comfort is a significant part of the holiday season’s mood as well as some glitter and splendor. Celebrate in style!
Do you think the ugly sweater trend should be left in the past? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to shop ShamrockGift.com’s men's Irish Aran sweaters and women's Aran sweaters now for a perfect update to your holiday party wardrobe.
Initially published on Dec 12, 2019