If you’re a red-blooded human being between the ages of 20 and 35, chances are you’ll receive an invite to an “ugly sweater” party this holiday season. You know the drill: You’re supposed to head to the local thrift store and dig up the most hideous bargain-bin holiday sweater you can find because it’s so totally ironic to dress like a ‘90s dweeb.
But it’s 2015: Irony is dead. These days, the coolest thing you can do is wear your pop culture pride loud and proud, with high-quality threads custom-made on DIY sites like Etsy.
That’s where we come in. We’re here to steer you to the sleekest geek finery on the Web — ugly sweaters that you’re proud to put on whenever it gets a bit chilly out… or whenever the next “ugly sweater” invite comes your way.
If You’ve Ever Done the Dab
This “Dabbing Santa” sweater from rapper 2Chainz is both topical and philanthropic: 2Chainz promises to donate “a part of the proceeds from each sweater to help families in need this Holiday season.” Which families, he doesn’t say, but let’s gloss over that and focus on the sheer customization options. White Santa or black Santa? Mr. Claus or Mrs. Claus? Marijuana leaves or snowflakes? The possibilities are endless! You can even get Dabbing Santa on a “hoodie dress,” which is a thing I just found out existed. [Buy it here.]
If You’ve Ever Put a Quarter up on a Street Fighter Cabinet
I guess they call ugly sweaters “jumpers” in the UK, but regardless of your dialect, this Street Fighter sweater is utterly fantastic. From the snowflake-as-fireball to the subtle “KO” lettering, this sweater exudes class. Bonus points if you greet everyone at your party with “Hadouken!” [Buy it here.]
If You’ve Spent the Last Four Weeks of Your Life in the Wasteland
This one barely qualifies as an ugly sweater (where are the repeating patterns?), but it’s so amazing I’m including it anyway. This really can be worn any day of the year — as long as you’re cool repping yellow and baby blue in public. It’s subtle enough that uninformed folks will think “111” is a hip new clothing brand, but any Fallout 4 fan who walks past will give you an appreciative nod. [Buy it here.]
If You’re Ready to Bundle up Because “Winter Is Coming”
I’m a little disappointed that this isn’t a true knit sweater with a wraparound design, but if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, this will have to do. And who doesn’t love Game of Thrones? If Jon Snow was wearing this at the end of last season, everyone at the Wall would’ve just had a laugh instead of… well, you know. [Buy it here.]
If You’ve Already Booked a Trip to See Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Opening Night
This sweater is perfect for separating the Muggles (I refuse to use “No-Maj”) from the wizards. To the non-Potterhead, this will look like someone’s cat walked over an Emoji keyboard, but those in the know will be able to decipher your secret signs faster than you can say “Expecto patronum!” [Buy it here.]
If You’ve Ever Played Card Wars in Real Life
This Adventure Time sweater is great because it’s arresting even if you aren’t a fan of the show: “Look at the cute little puppies!” “Are those clouds high-fiving? Awesome!” And the repeating motifs are mesmerizing. I feel like if I stare at it long enough and relax my vision, I’ll see a Magic Eye image of that time Jake got the lumps. [Buy it here.]
If You Know that Gremlins Is Truly the Best Christmas Movie Ever
Now this is how you do a pop culture holiday sweater. You’re paying a premium for it, but look at the details! This is a quality sweater that could last you a lifetime. Just don’t get it wet. [Buy it here.]
If You Want Nothing More Than to Debate Which Doctor Is the Best Doctor
Pull this sweater over your head, plop down on the nearest sofa, and hold court: Whovians will find themselves magnetically drawn to your attire. Matt Smith vs. Peter Capaldi? Tom Baker vs. Patrick Troughton? “Who” will reign supreme?
P.S. It’s obviously David Tennant. [Buy it here.]
If the Force Is Strong With You
There are so many Star Wars sweaters to choose from, but I chose to highlight this one. Why? Because I admire and respect the earnest optimism of creating a Force Awakens sweater before the movie has been released. Sure, you lucky readers in the far-flung future of December 18th already know how amazing it is, but those of us in the past (I’m writing this December 4th) have to rely on blind faith alone. It’s nerve-wracking!
(Seriously, does J.J. really pull it off? Please come back into the past and tell me right now. I need to know!)
So yeah, you could play it safe and get a Vader sweater, or a Yoda sweater, or a weird Stormtrooper/reindeer hybrid sweater. But none of those better convey the fact that, finally, “Chewie, we’re home.” [Buy it here.]