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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas sweaters show spirit of season

By Julie Hinds
Detroit Free Press

Christmas sweaters are the fruitcake of fashion. They don't get respect from the style-conscious, who consider them a tradition best left to schoolteachers and grandmothers.

But like fruitcakes, they've endured. More than that, they've gained the respect of some fashionistas, who bow to the power of the sweaters to spread tidings of comfort and joy.

"I would never wear them, but I think it shows a lot of spirit when someone does and I admire that," says Julie Halpern, owner of Becca Belle Gifts, a Detroit boutique.

"When I see one, I don't say, 'Look at that cheesy look.' I think it's wonderful if they have a lot of spirit. It shows a lot of confidence."

You won't see famous New York designers covering their cashmeres in green trees and red sleighs. But that doesn't mean style mavens don't appreciate a knit with a holly-jolly twist.

Dannielle Romano of Daily Candy.com, a popular Web guide to the hot and hip, describes Christmas sweaters as "the best and boldest way to let your Christmas flag fly." She'd never mock a woman for wearing her love of the season on her sleeve.

"Christmas sweaters are not trying to hurt anyone. They are not an offense to our sensibilities," says Romano. "For those brave souls, those pioneers, those stalwarts who haul out, year after year, the snowmen, the reindeer, the snowflakes, we should hold them in high esteem."

In their own way, Christmas sweaters are an act of self-expression. They're a conversation starter in a society that often hides behind e-mails and BlackBerrys. A way to reconnect with childlike wonder hence the conventional wisdom that they're OK for teachers.

As corporate cutbacks and global conflicts pile up, they're also a whimsical break from stark realities.

"They're kind of cherished. It's a very personal thing," says retail consultant Fred Marx. "They walk into the room and it's, 'Wow, the sweater has arrived.' The person is there, too."