Christmas Jumpers: Festive Necessities or a Fashion Faux Pas?

Christmas Jumpers? Why not not have the fashion faux pas and donate the money to a worthwhile cause instead?


Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
At the Christmas party hop!
Festive knits there for all to see;
Will this fashion ever stop?

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
Let the Christmas spirit ring!
So many sequins can hardly see;
Makes me question everything!

I will admit something that is, at the very least, slightly scandalous: I have never owned, and never intend to own a Christmas jumper. Many times have I been pressured to purchase such an item for office lunches or charity home clothes days, but each time I resist ever more strongly attending said occasions in my lovely, normal warm clothing, refusing to don a festive knit. I can almost stomach a wintry fair isle, and am not too horrified at the sight of these jumpers within the accepted parameters of Christmas festivities (in my mind, the start of Advent through to Epiphany). Having said that, I really do question what possesses people to purchase jumpers with animals dressed in Santa hats, covered in pom poms, and finished with cringeworthy slogans intended, but always failing, to have a comic effect. We all know the type, think Colin Firth dressed in a goofy reindeer jumper in Bridget Jones’ Diary… the epitome of a fashion faux pas. The mantra ‘the tackier the better’ seems to sum up this trend, and it cannot be denied that these appliquéd green and red jumpers featuring supposedly festive emblems are, quite frankly, hideous. And, as if the Christmas jumper obsession did not unsettle me enough, this year has seen the rise of the Christmas suit — a horrific trend which sees individuals resemble a present wrapped in tasteless, gimmicky paper. What could be worse?

You might, at this point, cast me as a Scrooge, but in actual fact, I am a Christmas-lover. I have always loved decorating the Christmas tree with the sound of ‘Carols from Kings’ filling the air. I religiously make my Christmas pudding in August before I return to university, and cannot wait for the smell and taste of oranges infused with mulled spices. As a child, the annual nativity play of the magical Christmas story was most certainly a highlight of my year and I played many esteemed roles in my childhood including an angel and a shepherd, but perhaps most notably a donkey and a Hawaiian girl dancing the hula (in a play which included children from around the world visiting the stable). The arrival of Christmas lights to the streets of St Andrews brought me so much joy, and the thought of returning home for a family Christmas is blissful. You see, my aversion to the Christmas jumper is not a heartless hatred of others’ joy, but rather it stems from a belief that the obsession detracts from the heart of Christmas. It unnecessarily over-commercialises the wonderful celebration that Christmas is, and what is more it is shockingly wasteful. Indeed, this year an estimated £220 million will be spent on these hideous pieces of clothing, and one in four Christmas jumpers purchased will be worn once and then thrown away with one in three people purchasing a new knit each year. This environmental tragedy highlights the disposable culture in which we live and the fact that many of those who sport Christmas jumpers do not genuinely like the knit that they purchase. We buy these jumpers to engage in a form of societal organised fun which dictates that you cannot wear the same item twice, but rather each year must get a more extravagant and outrageous example for the office Christmas photo. Wonderfully, this year this disposable culture has been challenged by the campaign entitled #GiveaKnit which has encouraged people to give the money to a charity that they would have spent on a new jumper. This simple concept encapsulates the spirit of Christmas — of giving and sharing, celebrating and being thankful for the gifts we have been given. We can but hope that this emphasis upon reusing and recycling will lead to the death of the Christmas jumper and the resurrection of the cosy winter knits in forest greens and deep maroons, a long-term investment which can be worn over several years.

So as I sit writing this article under the lights of a beautiful Christmas tree (whilst inhaling the fragrant smell of fir trees and listening to festive music) wearing a cream knitted jumper adorned with no sequins, pom poms, or cringe-worthy slogans, I exhort you to question whether to invest in another Christmas jumper. Do you really like the tacky print on the front of the jumper? Would you be happy to wear it every day in December for the next three years? With those questions ringing in your ears, I will leave you, and all that remains is for me to wish you a VERY Merry Christmas.


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