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Inspiration for the Perfect Ugly Sweater
Inspiration for the Perfect Ugly Sweater

Ugly sweater parties are are great way to celebrate the winter holidays. Not only are they tons of fun, but they get everyone into the holiday spirit. It’s not often that everyone gets together with the goal of looking silly and having a laugh. The question is: what makes a sweater ugly? Thankfully, there are lots of simple things you can do to ensure that your sweater is the best — and by that, we mean the worst.

01

The perfect tinsel tree

tinsel tree sweater Zoltan Tarlacz / Getty Images

When it comes to ugly sweaters, the tinsel Christmas tree is a classic. Not only is it the perfect level of tacky, but it’s also super easy to DIY. If you mess up applying tinsel to the sweater, you’re simply making it even uglier. Feel free to throw on some small ornaments or other decorations to take your sweater to the next level.

02

Embrace some terrible puns

pun christmas ugly sweater Dominique Oliveto / Getty Images

You’ll know you’ve made a great ugly sweater choice when people greet you with laughter or groans. Why not go for both with some truly terrible puns? Don a sweater with a salt and pepper design and you’ll have “seasonings’ greetings.” What about a snowman exclaiming that he's the “best in snow”? You can even get meta, proclaiming "Christmas puns sleigh me." The more groan-worthy, the better.

03

Keep it busy

couple busy ugly sweaters RyanJLane / Getty Images

It’s surprisingly difficult to find a sweater that most people will agree is ugly. Sure, you can find some gauche or goofy sweaters. For actual ugliness, you need to go a step further. Overwhelm the senses with visual noise. The more ornaments, patterns, and designs in that small space, the better.

04

All the wrong patterns

clashing patterns mix sweater timnewman / Getty Images

A classic choice for ugly sweaters involves intentionally mixing clashing patterns. Few things are as hard on the eyes as houndstooth next to camo or gingham next to animal print. Make sure to go over the top, because some fashionable aesthetics actually rely on clashing patterns. If you don’t go far enough, your sweater may look odd-but-chic rather than truly ugly, which is great for the mall but not contest winning-worthy.

05

Try on some chaotic colors

bright clashing color sweater richellgen / Getty Images

Just like adding clashing patterns or excess decorations, you can make sure your sweater is a jumble of horribly distracting colors. This isn’t just about contrast. You want hues and shades that make for offensive combinations. Play with different saturations, too. You’ll surprise yourself with how ugly some color combos can be. If you can't find a suitably terrible sweater, layer with a vest or undershirt to complete the eyesore.

06

Pick the wrong fit

man ugly large sweater ideabug / Getty Images

Most people are aware of how to uglify sweaters by adding objects or colors. However, almost everyone skips over one of the best things you can do for an ugly sweater: choose the wrong size. A shirt that is way too small or way too big can be the cherry on top for an ugly sweater reveal. You’re sure to get some laughs, and your friends and family definitely won’t be expecting it.

07

Attach garish ornaments

couple ornaments sweaters RyanJLane / Getty Images

Sometimes it’s not about the sweater itself, but what’s on it. Start simple with a massive, garish ribbon. Attach some dangling ornaments, sparkly tinsel, or even some flashing lights for additional flair. If you have some spare Christmas stockings laying around, you can stick those to your sweater and fill them with even more decorations.

08

Show up as a pair

couple elf ugly sweater svetikd / Getty Images

What’s better than one ugly sweater? Two ugly sweaters! If you're going to the party with a partner or pals, show up in matching apparel. Maybe you’re tinsel twins, or perhaps both sweaters come together to make one big, awful image. Some groups even take it a step further and just wear one massive sweater!

09

Do more with texture

sweaters texture elf svetikd / Getty Images

Ugliness isn’t just visual, it’s also tactile. Some fabrics have textures that look and feel legitimately awful. For example, maybe you have a sweater that looks like someone’s old shag carpet. If you aren’t lucky enough to possess such a garment, you can always add texture yourself. Tons of craft stores sell pom-poms, fringe, and similar attachments that you can harness for the perfect ugly sweater.

10

A terrible recreation

ugly sweater dog design Tristar Media / Getty Images

Ugly sweaters are also a great way to show off something that you love. Maybe you’re a big fan of dogs, so you want to have a dog design. There’s just one issue: dogs are cute. However, you can easily make a sweater ugly by using a dog design that’s not quite...right, or maybe just a smidge inappropriate. Pick the right one and you’ll have everyone else howling with laughter.

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