Christmas attire is starting to look an awful lot like Neil the psychiatrist’s wardrobe in The Santa Clause. The knitted sweater is back. Not just knitted, though: crocheted, embroidered and sequined sweaters alike have found their way off thrift store hangers and into our closets (and our hearts) this Christmas season.
Sophomore Tori Wilson owns 21 sweaters, “give or take a few,” that she begins wearing on Dec. 1 and continues through Christmas Day.
“They’re the perfect combination of obnoxious, unsettling, cheery, warm, cozy, itchy, jingly and smelly,” Wilson said. “I can’t get enough.”
For fellow sophomore Beth Schleusener, who wears her 15-sweater collection from Nov. 1 until New Years, they are not just for Christmas.
“I think they’re cute,” Schleusener said. “People our age like them in an ironic way, but I genuinely like them.”
Although people like Wilson and Schleusener have been sweater fans for a while, the craze hit colleges only within the last year or so. With consignment stores like Savers devoting entire areas of their store to them, it’s hard for thrifty students to deny the warm fuzzy feeling they get from teal and maroon argyle with a 50-cent price tag.
Those bargains might be going out of style faster than the sweaters themselves, though. Wilson says the demand for “ugly” fashion has driven thrift store prices way up.
“Now they’re always pushing twenty bucks, and it’s a real shame,” Wilson said, suggesting that students search at places like Savers and Ragstock instead of bigger stores.
Schleusener agrees, naming January as the best month to buy next year’s sweater because everyone is making New Years resolutions to clean out their houses. Get your timing right, she said, and you will pay no more than $5.
“Let Savers be your best friend,” Schleusener said.
However, she warns that a small dollar amount doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be picky in the pursuit of the perfect holiday sweater.
“The more colorful the better, but be careful for fabrics like acrylic,” Schleusener said, recommending wool instead because of its warmth and durability.
Wilson also encourages first-time sweater buyers to splurge if they find one too good to pass up.
“An itchy, shiny, wild sweater is priceless,” Wilson said. “If it feels like it is speaking to you, just go with your gut.”
If buying anything just isn’t an option this season, Schleusener says to raid some closets: parents’, grandparents’ or friends’. Once these people know you like them, Wilson added, they’ll scour thrift stores and garage sales all year round to help find additions to your collection.
Schleusener warns to tread lightly when asking to borrow someone’s “favorite Santa sweater,” though. “Ugly” is a word best kept to yourself.
For Wilson, the sweaters are more enticing for these secondhand origins than for their so-ugly-it’s-cute appeal. It provides a connection to other people that students otherwise might not get.
“They have a story behind them,” Wilson said. “They have been well loved and used for celebration by other people as well.”