Year round we’re inundated by “novelty” themed clothing items that fall far beyond the realm of fashion and fit more precisely into the category of humorous or in many cases advertorial statement. These would include t-shirts that have snappy comedic slogans like “I’m With Stupid,” while others feature oversized motifs declaring our love for a certain sporting team, place, event or product. But, at this time of year let’s grab a cup of hot cocoa and reflect on the history behind the current craze of wearing and totally celebrating the most garish and hideous holiday themed sweaters you can find. Or in other words, the garment grouping that attacks our senses called the “Crazy Christmas Sweater.”
For those of us of a certain age, we may have fond memories of old-fashioned holiday TV specials where guys like Andy Williams were expected to wear these eyesores as a sign of jolly yuletide fun, making the most of their merry hilarity. During the decade of the 1980s colorful, oversized, and frankly, unattractive sweaters were the norm on network television and popularized in particular by Mr. Bill Cosby. Heading into the 1990s the craze lost some steam and sweaters that were once thought “cool” were looked at as more of an unfortunate joke on the wearer. Remember the scene in the 2001 film "Bridget Jones’s Diary" where she, being rather clueless, decides to wear a sweater that ends up causing her unwanted embarrassment?
For around the last 10 years or so, something of a Christmas miracle has happened with these once derided bits of yarn. They’ve had a serious makeover in the minds and hearts of people all over the world. The deliberately outrageous Christmas sweater has become a symbol of what is called “camp.” A simple explanation for the term “camp” would be an exaggerated and inflated costume, speech or action done for a humorous effect. People actually hold special parties that celebrate the unattractive knitwear! Ironic as this would seem high-end, as well as mass market retailers responded in kind, seeing there was money to be made off of all the holiday flamboyance by producing and selling their own versions to great success. A recent story in the New York Times reported that in 2012, a major venue for sweater sales were independent company websites, that use crazy sweaters as their themes such as TipsyElves.com, and MyUglyChristmasSweater.com.
Your favorite store, Goodwill has climbed aboard the crazy Christmas sweater bandwagon by offering tips from our home décor expert Merri Cvetan, on how to festoon a silly sweater to take it to the next level of crazy. With her tips and a little time, folks can enter their creations by uploading a picture here until December 8th, 2013. You can vote for your favorite beginning December 10th and the winners will be announced on WISN Channel 12’s morning show on December 20th. Four finalists will receive a $250 Visa gift card and one winner will receive a $500 travel voucher, as well as a $250 Visa gift card, and tickets to "Live with Kelly & Michael" in NYC!
So why not get in on all the festive and unsightly fun by shopping at Goodwill? We have a section devoted to all kinds of Christmas décor, and that may inspire you to dress up some crazy sweaters or Christmas themed clothing of your own! Even if you don’t enter our crazy holiday sweater contest you’ve already won something far more precious. With the simple act of your purchase and support of our mission, you’ve won the respect of the people that utilize the community programs that Goodwill provides year round, and there is nothing more beautiful than that!