Sizing up dogs, cats and holiday sweaters

The current issue of Dogster magazine has a two-page spread on holiday sweaters for both canines and their human companions.

This paragraph caught my eye: “Whether it’s for a holiday party or lounging around the Christmas tree, as long as your holiday sweater includes a furry friend on it, any sweater is pretty spectacular to us!”

And it got me wondering how the whole crazy Christmas sweater phenomenon got started in the first place.

Seems it began in the 1950s, when stores offered “Jingle Bell Sweaters,” likely a sign of the holiday’s growing commercialization. The patterned sweaters weren’t as tacky as today’s, and they found little popularity, although a few singers of the time such as Val Doonican and Andy Williams were known for wearing “festive” sweaters.

It took about 30 years, until the 1980s, before Christmas sweaters made a comeback. According to the uglychristmasparty.com blog, the garments fit nicely with shoulder pads, neon and oversized hair.

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By the 1990s, the sweaters’ popularity started to wane. The “bejeweled” dazzlers were worn by grandmothers and kids, but not the high-fashion minded.

In the 2000s the Christmas sweater saw a resurgence with a little re-branding as “ugly” Christmas sweaters started popping up everywhere, thanks in part to the emergence of parties that celebrated them.

The first documented ugly Christmas sweater party occurred in Vancouver, Canada, in 2002, according to the uglychristmasparty.com blog, which notes, “The ‘un‑cool’ factor of the ugly Christmas sweater was exactly what made them trendy, as kitchiness became something to embrace rather than avoid. As the internet became a powerful tool, the idea for ugly Christmas sweater parties spread globally.”

And, of course, the concept eventually filtered into the dog fashion market.

Our dogs have never worn holiday-specific sweaters, but we don’t let them freeze, either. Mocha, our first, was a Miniature Schnauzer who wore a sweater when she was out and about on cold winter days. Lucy, our second, a multiple mixed breed, had a beautiful coat of thick, lush hair. She never wore a coat. Teddy, our current dog, wears a sweater or coat when he and my husband, Ed, take long walks on cold winter days.

Teddy does wear bandanas celebrating holidays. Two years ago, when COVID-19 was rampant, we weren’t able to take our usual Christmas card photos, so we ordered holiday bandanas on Etsy — not for us, but for furry family members Teddy, Pip, our domestic short hair cat, and Wednesday, our daughter Jordan’s Tiffany Chantilly feline. The photos of the three decked out in their Christmas bandanas made for a cute and festive Christmas card.

We do have one family pet who has donned a Christmas sweater. To say Jordan loves Wednesday is an understatement. She adores the 5-year-old “queen,” and the feeling is mutual. Wednesday helped her get through law school and was a good inspector of all potential boyfriends, recently giving her seal of approval to Jordan’s fiancee, Alex.

Our first Christmas with Wednesday as part of the family, Jordan had seen matching holiday sweaters for owners and their pooches in all types of catalogs, but none for cats. So she found a sweater for her and a matching small dog one for Wednesday. I’m not sure the cat was thrilled, but we did get a cute photo for our Christmas card that year.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in Greene County with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at spicerkarin@gmail.com.

HOW TO BUY

Companies that create personalized dog Christmas sweaters:

Knitwise

Crown and Paw

Printful.com

SOURCE: Dogster magazine

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