You know how every holiday you have that one relative/coworker/friend planning an Ugly Sweater Party? Hello, it’s me, I’m that friend, here to give you options that will make this year’s gathering (or let’s be real, Zoom call) geeky and fun.
Editor’s note: I received one of Fun.com’s ugly sweaters to review, but the opinions are my own.
I unapologetically love Ugly Sweater parties. There’s something joyful about giving people permission to wear something ridiculous – something that doesn’t need to look cool or chic, something that just makes you happy to wear. Even better, there are scads of geeky options that really push the boundaries of what it means to be an ugly sweater.
Some of my favorite ugly sweaters this year are from Fun.com – but they’re not all winners. Here are five awesome fandom sweaters and one I would love to burn on a Yule log.*
Five Ugly Sweaters that will make you smile…
Full disclosure, I watch very little anime. That’s mostly because I have major trouble sitting through secondhand embarrassment which seems to be a Thing with most anime.
Sailor Moon gets a pass. Always has. It was one of the very first shows I downloaded way back when you had to set up your downloads to run overnight. (I’m old, is what I’m saying.)
There are a lot of places online to get Sailor Moon sweaters, but I’ve run into sizing problems. Even larges are narrow and short. I’m recommending Fun.com because their ugly sweaters have a decently wide range, so you can expect something actually wearable up to around US size 22 in the 2XL.
This specific sweater has endeared itself to me for its design. If your ugly sweater isn’t going to actually be a hideous horror to behold, it should at least be Way Too Busy like this one. I love how there are planetary symbols just crammed cheerfully in under her hair and on the sleeves and wherever they fit. Perfection.
This doesn’t exactly fit in the “fandom” category, but I showed this to a Jewish friend for a sensitivity check. She loved it. I guess there aren’t tons of options if you’re stuck at a company party and you don’t celebrate Christmas?
It really checks all the ugly sweater boxes, too. Oversized holiday décor? Front and center. Bright colors you can see from across the lawn? Yep (though they’re almost tasteful which could be considered a drawback if you’re really going for the gold). Repeating patterns that fill up every available inch of fabric space? Nailed it.
It’s a good sweater, y’all.
Plus, there are a few different Hanukkah designs on the site. You have options if you’re worried Grandma might take offense to menorah jokes.
There are a bunch of Star Wars sweaters at Fun.com. Some of them are a little too classy to really count as an ugly sweater, though. You’d wear them to a party and catch flak for “not getting in the spirit”.
Besides, who doesn’t love BB8? Even fans who don’t really like the Star Wars sequels harbor a small soft spot for a certain rolling droid. (If you doubt that, check out which droid model sells best at Galaxy’s Edge.)
What I like about this sweater is how much it looks like woven fabric when it’s actually dye sublimation. Weaving a pattern like this would price the sweater out of range for a lot of us, but the woven aesthetic is vastly superior to obvious prints.
This is the sweater I was sent as a sample. Skip to the bottom of the article if you want a quality check (I put it through some testing).
How awesome is it to find a grown-up Care Bear sweater?
I don’t even care that it’s more cute than properly tacky. The Care Bears fandom gets skipped over way too often, especially considering how much adults with disposable income still love them. We actually have one staffer (not me!) who has a curated drive full of Care Bears art that she’s collected over the years.
If you head to the site there are 3 adult options: Tenderheart Bear, Grumpy Bear, and a Hi-Lo sweater that’s definitely too bright and happy to be included in an ugly sweater roundup. (The kids’ zip-up hoodies are cute, too, I guess.)
Bonus: wearing this sweater is sure to inspire quality conversation. Instead of, “I’m so tired of video calls” and “Hey am I frozen? Can you guys hear me? Why is your camera off?” you can enjoy, “Oh my gods, Care Bears! I LOVED that show! Which Bear would you be?”
Fraggle Rock is something I was scared to revisit as an adult because I was afraid it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered. It wasn’t – it was better. It uses Muppets, so there’s no issues with outdated special effects. The stories are basically all about music and resolving interpersonal conflict, but not in a preachy way. It’s such a relaxing show.
I use the theme song as my alarm clock ringtone for mornings I need to wake up stupidly early. Dancing your cares away is a great way to start your morning.
This sweater is top of my list because it manages to capture the spirit of the show while also fitting nicely into the ugly sweater category. It’s probably the best choice on this list when it comes to showing up well on a webcam and making people smile.
If you do happen to be somewhere it’s safe to party (or you’re celebrating with your bubble) the back is just as interesting as the front. That gives it longevity, too – you could wear it next year and people who just saw the front can see something different.
For perspective, I want you all to be aware there’s a sweater with Donald Trump on it and I still chose this as the worst sweater on the site. Brace yourself. Here it is.
Oh no. No, no, no, no, no.
Look, I’m ex-Army so I get the love of immature humor. But this is wrong on so many levels. Let’s break them down.
- It’s going to make most of the people who see you in it uncomfortable. This sweater is sartorial sexual harassment. Maybe you could wear this in a group of friends who were all specifically going for the worst possible sweater, but odds are high that at least one person at your party will be seriously weirded out even if they don’t say anything.
- Awful people are going to take it as an invitation to touch your “ornaments” – and those are almost certainly not going to be people you want to touch you. I’m not victim-blaming here. It’s fully not okay to grab other people not matter what they’re wearing. Just be aware that many people don’t regard clothing as part of your body and will feel okay just reaching out.
- The “punchline” of the joke is what? You’re telling everyone you would really like to have more amorous attention but just can’t make it happen? I guess a good self burn is always appreciated?
- It doesn’t play well on a webcam. You’ll have to stand up to show it off and then you’re basically pelvic thrusting at your assembled coworkers or family. Not a good look.
Please, don’t wear this sweater. 90% of the time it’s not funny, and people will just roll their eyes and downgrade their estimation of your wit. Plus, those ornaments mean it’s hand wash only and you know you’re gonna get eggnog on it.
A quick note on quality after giving mine a test wear…
I had some concerns about these. I knew the actual garment quality would likely be solid for the price point because the jackets we reviewed last winter are still in great shape for use this year. However, dye sublimation can look cheap if it’s not done right. I couldn’t tell from the website if these were going to be as fun in person as they are online.
To my relief, this BB8 sweater is really cool. The design is crisp without being too crisp, if you get my drift. Here are some close-ups so you can judge for yourself.
I wore the sweater around all day, including going outside with my dog. Because it’s fleecy inside, I threw it on over a tank top in case I got overheated. I did not. I would say it’s suitable for hiking around in 45 degree (Fahrenheit) weather if you don’t mind being chilly until you get moving. Any colder and you want to layer up.
You could wear this in a warm holiday gathering if you wanted, just don’t put anything too heavy under it.
The close-up pictures you see above are after a wash cycle. I kept the water cold but wasn’t super picky about what else I threw in with it, because I know most people don’t sort their laundry. (I was also just too lazy to make a dedicated test wash cycle.) I didn’t notice any shrinkage or damage to the color afterwards.
Bottom line: As far as I can tell in 2 days, this sweater is going to hold up as well as the jackets did. SO…. if you’re ready to get an ugly sweater to liven up that Holiday Zoom Call we’re all going to pretend is just as good as visiting home, why not get something that will actually make you smile?
*Did I use a fanfic trope to nerd out about sweaters? Yes, yes I did. If you’re surprised you’re clearly new here, so welcome aboard!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology being published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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