Guest Blogger Shaunya: Ugly Is The New Cool

Starting in the 80’s, an unusual trend swept over the country between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This coincided with the typical Holiday parties, both at work and among friends. Zealots, who really wanted you to know they were into the holiday spirit, wore a highly decorated Christmas sweater. These people, most often women, also decked everything and everyone in their homes with seasonal Santa themed knickknacks and bedazzled their lawns with so many lights that people could see them from miles away. The sweaters appeared to be an extension of their homes and lawns. These jolly patrons take their holiday cards seriously too.

Well, I’m happy to report that this trend is well and alive in 2013! And we now turn to these Holiday mavens for inspiration while we search eBay and trove the racks at our local Goodwill for a specific item we come to now refer to as the Ugly Christmas Sweater.

Parties are themed around them, local thrift stores can’t keep them in stock, and social media news feeds are fueled with the witty epic of holiday tacky. Throwing style out of the window for one day and channeling your inner tacky geek all in search of making ugly cool for a family photo or a geeky gathering is what it’s all about. The rules are pretty open, but the uglier the better. Some go for vintage looks, from the golden era, usually the early 1980s. Others have a more DIY approach, channeling their inner crafter and working from a blank canvas they put a glue gun plus tinsel to use.

I scored my sweater, seen below, in my local Brooklyn Goodwill over a year ago. Although my grandmother was very puzzled, she saw the humor in it. In the necessary Ugly Christmas Sweater fabric, acrylic, my red, green and white cardigan symbolizes all things Christmas.

I’ve already started my hunt for next year. I want something with lights and definitely three dimensional. How does that sound?

photo credits: Shaunya Hartley,

Native New Yorker Shaunya is the owner and curator of VintageShaun, a collection of vintage clothing with a contemporary vision that has been featured in NBC’s The Today Show. She is a longtime Goodwill fan and style expert. Last May, Shaunya collaborated in Goodwill’s Spring Fling the Excess, our Earth Day/spring cleaning promotion. Most recently, she styled models for Goodwill Suits You, a fashion show to mark October, National Disability Employment Awareness month.

You may also read her blog: or follow her on Twitter @vintageshaun

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