7 Classic Holiday Sweaters That Aren’t So ‘Ugly’

Source: J. Crew

Source: J. Crew

Ah, the iconic holiday sweater… its rich, festive heritage all but compromised by the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party trend. But, if you’re anything like us, you might just be looking for a more noble piece of knitwear to wear this season — that is, when you’re not channeling the “tipsy elves” look.

Often decorated with Nordic-inspired designs of pine trees, reindeer and snowflakes, the classic holiday sweater boasts a handsome vintage charm. Updated versions hold fast to the traditional roots while featuring a variety of sleek styles, luxe fabrics and designs. Making them well-suited for a range of occasions, whether you’re bringing a jolt of holiday cheer to the office, heading out for a casual weekend of Christmas shopping, or even attending a non-ugly holiday soiree.

There’s a time and a place for those hide-your-eyes sweaters strewn in poms-poms, frou-frou, and NSFW Santa jokes. So, save the reindeer games for that party. Instead, up your sweater cred with one of these options steeped in old-world nostalgia yet thoroughly modern appeal.

Lambswool Fair Isle sweater

Source: J. Crew

Source: J. Crew

The Fair Isle is the consummate classic for sweater weather. Yet the traditional roots of the look get a contemporary upgrade with J. Crew’s lambswool gray patterned sweater that pairs beautifully with navy pants. We also have our eye on the buffalo plaid sweater with a statement red-and-black checkerboard design that gets top billing, especially when paired over a shirt and tie.

Fair Isle sweater

Source: JackThreads

Source: JackThreads

JackThreads also has a revitalized take on what is traditionally a multicolored, Fair Isle knitwear piece, offering a sleeker, monochromatic-inspired interpretation. While it’s hearty enough to keep you warm, the slim fit of the piece works solo or layered. And the neutral palette ensures that this Fair Isle makes a fine pairing with just about anything, from dress chinos to distressed denim and off-duty joggers.

Kefla jumper

Source: Kefla

Source: Kefla

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow in the Kefla navy jumper from British brand, Bellfield. The abstracted snowflake print is sophisticatedly artsy without going overboard and the toggle detailing at the neck is a small detail that adds big character to the design.

Snow print fleece zip sweater

Source: American Stitch

Source: American Stitch

You will be forgiven if all of a sudden you’re craving a day on the ski slopes upon seeing American Stitch’s snow print fleece zip sweater that reflects the brand’s signature blend of timelessness and modernism. The wintry spirit of the cozy fur-lined piece, featuring grey or navy colorways and contrasting prints, simply begs for a lodge and a roaring fire. But its classic American styling keeps it appropriate for a casual day at the office or some holiday cheer at the local pub.

Crew neck geometric motif

Source: Brioni

Source: Brioni

Luxe is the code word when it comes to Brioni’s five-color wool, silk, and cashmere crew-neck sweater that features a Vienna-inspired geometric design. The patterning creates an intriguing movement while the richly saturated palette is tailor-made for the holidays. Wear it with a dove-gray pair of pants to make the colors pop even more. Wrap yourself in this jewel-toned sweater before heading out for the next party — like all good style investments, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Patterned reindeer sweater

Source: Ralph Lauren

Source: Ralph Lauren

Leave it to Ralph Lauren, the bastion of classic Americana, to serve up a number of traditionally-inspired holiday sweaters. Here, the reindeer come out to play in this cotton-blend crewneck that’s also knit with the signature RL pattern on the front. Team it with a slim pant and lace-up boots.

 Red and pink stripe sweater

Source: Paul Smith

Source: Paul Smith

We couldn’t round out a list of must-see holiday sweaters without a candy-cane-inspired option. Paul Smith’s red and pink striped merino wool sweater is finished with tonal ribbed cuffs, collar, and waistband for a structured fit. It’s basically like wearing a fashionable peppermint, and we strongly recommend it. For added panache, you could even layer this lightweight sweater with a suit, dress shirt, and tie.

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