Not Hideous Holiday Sweaters: A Shopping Guide

So, here's the thing -- I like holiday sweaters. Sorry, but I do. It's a holdover from the life I used to live -- one that involved owning more than two sweaters.

My Yankee yearnings for wearing heavy knitwear are rarely satiated here in Houston, so recent cold-like temperatures have been welcome. Digging through That One Shelf where I keep All My Shirts With Sleeves, I reminisced about snow days, cozy Christmas mornings, and the three or four drawers of sweaters and long-sleeve tees I used to have. Such nostalgia may seem odd, but I have it on good authority that I'm not the only Northerner living in Houston who longs for cold days bundled in warm cotton, wool or (preferably) cashmere.

No celebrating the Ugly Christmas Sweater for me; not when there are so many pretty, pretty sweaters to wear in a completely non-ironic way.

J.Crew Holiday Sweaters Do Not Cost $500

Imagine my surprise when I found that J.Crew has some beautiful vintage-inspired holiday sweaters that do not cost as much as one pair of Gwyneth Paltrow's pajamas! J.Crew's "Skier Sweater" and "Vintage Holiday Sweater" are an affordable $98 each.

Sartorial subtext: The Vintage Holiday Sweater is sold out online, which proves that godless heathens love J.Crew.

Madewell Winks at Christmas

The sweaters at Madewell evoke the feeling of Christmas, rather than putting it on display. The Modern Slope Sweater ($98) is a geometric take on a classic design; done in neutrals, it just needs a red scarf to get you all the way to "Christmas." Ditto for this red-and-tan color blocked sweater ($98) -- the color blocked sleeves give the impression of "arm warmers" and it's impossibly cozy. If you can't do Christmas without "cable knit" or "cowl neck," Madewell has those, too.

Sartorial subtext: We don't want these sweaters making appearances at Ugly Sweater Parties in 2045.

Anne Taylor: Gift Wrap You, Baby

Anne Taylor's approach to holiday sweaters involves making you look like a sexy present. What's black, white and red all over? Yer mom in her Anne Taylor holiday Bow Sweater. Burn! And then there is the inexplicable "Lace Overlay Sweater" ($80), which is just a white sweater with what looks like black lace corset stitched onto it...until you view the back of the sweater, which is plain white. You look like a fancy gift from the front and a hospital patient from the back.

Sartorial subtext: Go to bed, or risk seeing Mommy get all up on Santa Claus. Meow.

Aspirational Fibers at Nordstrom

Why shop one single brand when I can shop department stores and see many designs, I thought to myself, and then went to Nordstrom-dot-com, and then searched "sweaters," and then laughed and laughed because the first one I found costs more than my entire electric bill for a year. Medium-size women with eight hundred dollars are in luck, because the Burberry Prorsom Soldier Cashmere Sweater is on sale for $777 marked down from $1,295.

Slow down your heartbeat by shopping Nordstrom for patterned sweaters for men, where Christmas-y sweaters start at around $80, and include this amazing design featuring dueling polar bears. As someone who is opposed to the anthropomorphization of bears for decorative (or any other) purposes, I feel it's important to see these majestic beasts depicted in a more accurate state -- that is, wild and bloodthirsty. (If not two-dimensional and in yarn.)

Sartorial subtext: Time to stop shopping and go make some money.

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