Thursday 27 April 2017

Christmas jumpers: go naff or go home

Ahead of Christmas Jumper Day tomorrow, Sophie Donaldson asks whether we need our festive knits to carry a designer label

Elf yourself: Ryan Tubridy wears a festive jumper while hosting the 'Late Late Toy Show'
Elf yourself: Ryan Tubridy wears a festive jumper while hosting the 'Late Late Toy Show'
Chic: €185 - Markus Lupfer
Kitsch: €25 - Debenhams
Kitsch: €19.99 - H&M
Kitsch: Penneys Christmas jumper €18
Chic: €505 - ChitiandParker.com
Chic: €40, Marks and Spencer

This festive season Gant is doing a lambswool-blend jumper with two elegant reindeer prancing across its front. Isabel Marant offers a slim fit knit in red lurex and for the boys, Saint Laurent has a traditional Fair Isle sweater embellished with seasonal sequins. This latest crop of designer gear begs the question - are Christmas jumpers made to be naff or is it high time they got a high-end makeover?

Let's get one thing straight here: Christmas time is not a time to be fashionable. After the annual sequin-encrusted office party, December should be suspended into aesthetic limbo. Otherwise chic apartments should be invaded with garish tinsel, high heels discarded in favour of novelty slippers, and it is essential your knitwear features a badly drawn Santa/reindeer/snowflake. If you ask me, the only thing more embarrassing than wearing a hideous poly-knit festive jumper is 'investing' in a cooler-than-thou designer version.

Tomorrow marks Christmas Jumper Day, and if you are going to honour the tradition, then you might as well fling yourself into the most hideously scratchy viscose blend you can find because you are not going to get a chance to do this for another 11 months. Just as you have one night in October to dress like a smutty kitten, there is a very small window of opportunity in December to eat, drink and be merry with sickening gusto.

And herein lies the true joy of Christmas - the confines of the real world, in which we deny ourselves gastronomic pleasures, pedal slavishly in the gym, suit up for the office and make pleasant small talk with strangers, are swept to one side.

Christmas time is our green card to revel in gluttony, sit in comfortable silence with siblings rewatching 'Home Alone' and forget entirely about our appearance. Christmas is laden with familiarity and comfort, hence the same food, the same people, the same films and the same decorations. And what's more comfortable than not giving a toss about what you are wearing?

Do yourself a favour and don't try to break the mould with that cashmere Bella Freud knit - this is your one chance to indulge in both bad food and bad clothing, plus you'll save yourself around €400, money that would be much better spent in the January sales.

Christmas is a quagmire of traditions that are tolerable just once a year. Only in December do we ingest mulled wine with such enthusiasm and suddenly have an ear for Cliff Richard. Likewise, our penchant for tacky festive jumpers can be put down to this limited time only appeal.

If in doubt when purchasing a Christmas jumper, the tackier the better. The double-person knit, which fits two people with one armhole each, is the creme de la creme of Christmas jumpers, while the light-up variety with a built-in battery pack is a serious contender for the silliest of silly season knits.

For those still not convinced that all we really want for Christmas is a delightfully gaudy jumper, consider the controversy around Ryan Tubridy's outfit on this year's 'Late Late Toy Show'. A now-established part of the nation's most-watched programme, his outlandish Christmas jumper has become just as anticipated as the show itself. This is the one time he can appear on television in a purposely ridiculous piece of clothing and we look forward to it with relish.

Year on year, Tubs doesn't disappoint, until this year's show when he opened the programme wearing a button-down shirt. Sure, it was covered in an eye-sore print of tiny Christmas trees, presents and elves but the absence of knitwear had the country collectively holding its breath - until the appearance of a fabulously ugly Christmas jumper soon after allowed us to heave a collective sigh of relief.

Can you imagine if he decided to don a bespoke Burberry knit instead? For an entire nation, Christmas would have been utterly, unquestionably ruined.

Irish Independent

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