Where to get those ugly holiday sweaters
Jacquie Moore, Swerve
Aside from Colin Firth, clad as he was in a reindeer jumper at the turkey-curry buffet in Bridget Jones’s Diary, nobody has ever looked miserable in a holiday sweater. From skating polar bears to strings of lights and the classic Santa-smoking-by-the-tree pattern, the seasonal pullover is the very definition of warmth and good cheer—an all-ages hot toddy. Some of us may even recall a time when it wasn’t worn with a smidgen of irony.
Ashley Witts co-owns one of the most impressive holiday-sweater collections in the land. Since opening Hello Vintage in Canmore (717 10th St., hellovintageshop.com )four years ago, she and her business partner, Sherry McEwen, have spent weeks each year combing the country for the most festive pullovers, vests and cardigans; this year, they netted upwards of 600 seasonal gems (as of press time, there were fewer than 300 left; better hurry).
As befits a devotee of vintage clothing, Witts sees exquisiteness where others see only goofy party wear. “In the 1980s, holiday sweaters were a status symbol,” she says. “They were handmade and cost hundreds of dollars. It was quite elite to be able to afford a sweater to wear only once a year.” Generally speaking, Hello Vintage stocks those hand-knit beauties, rather than the mass-produced, worn-with-irony modern-day variety. “That expression ‘They don’t make them like they used to’ is so true of these sweaters,” she says.
But while she takes the sweater search seriously, Witts does have a sense of humour about contemporary reindeer jumpers. “The line between irony and fashion blurred a long time ago,” she says, adding that she likes some of the newer hipster styles, but finds their workmanship wanting. “They’re nostalgic and cheerful and wholesome—well, except for the ones with swear words on them,” she says. Witts and McEwen can’t get down, however, with fast, disposable fashion. “If you’re buying a holiday sweater from, say, Forever 21, it’s not necessarily going to make it through the night.”
Categorised in: Canadian News