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According to research conducted by Voucherbox, we spent over £260 million on Christmas jumpers last year alone. Why is it, therefore, that something which not so long ago was considered to be decidedly naff has now achieved a timeless classic status?

Back in the Fifties the humble Christmas jumper was already beginning to make an appearance, although this quirky piece of festive clothing did not really weave its way into fashion for good until the Eighties, with popular celebrities at the time such as Andy Williams and Bill Cosby making the knitwear famous, there is no denying its presence in previous decades.

1950s appearance
You may be surprised to hear that the idea of Christmas jumpers has actually been around since the late 19th century. However, the jumper was originally used as a more practical than fashionable piece of clothing to keep people warm during the cold winter months and the first designs were not necessarily inspired by Christmas, but actually from the tradition of Fair Isle knitting.

Nevertheless, the Fifties sparked the initial festive theme on jumpers, as this was when Christmas started to become “marketed” and the idea of everyone sitting around the dinner table in their family-friendly knits was a memory to be cherished forever.

But what happened when the jumpers really solidified their name in the world of fashion in the Eighties and beyond?

1980s Revival
As previously mentioned, the likes of singer Andy Williams and Irish crooner Val Doonican really brought Christmas jumpers into the limelight once and for all, as these family favourites were known for their wacky festive fashion.

Along with fake snow and decorated sets, the appearance of both stars on TV and record sleeves was a reassuring sign that the Christmas period had begun.


Sadly, the Christmas jumper then became unpopular for a time throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Did the new generation see vintage Christmas jumpers as something only their grandparents would wear? Maybe the extravagant and garish designs were what made the chunky pullovers become labelled as ‘ugly’ throughout these years.

Modern Popularity
Fast forward a few years and picture Colin Firth standing awkwardly with a reindeer-emblazoned chest. In 2001, Bridget Jones’s Mr Darcy epitomised our feelings about the classic Christmas sweater, picked out or knitted by an elderly relative. Although a source of embarrassment in the film, audiences still warmed to the jumpers worn by the love-struck couple, caught up by their humour and endearing qualities.

At the same time, cinema once again brought the vintage knitwear to our attention, enchanting the younger generation in Harry Potter. Who could forget Mrs Weasley’s lovingly produced jumpers worn by some of the most famous wizards in children’s literature? As a result of this, scores of people sought to emulate their fictional heroes in a bid to become part of the magical world.

Since then, Christmas jumpers increasingly form part of our winter wardrobe, brought out once a year for a host of Christmas parties or charity days. The vintage classics have been promoted from comedy attire to festive essential.

Cover image: The Christmas jumper is out.” (CC BY 2.0) by isaacashe