From gift exchange get-togethers to end-of-the-year office soirees thrown by the ever-festive Barbara in HR, welcome to holiday party season. And unlike last year, when you waited until the last minute and spent many frantic hours searching for where to buy ugly Christmas sweaters to wear to your friend's campy-kitsch shindig, you're going to be proactive this year. You're going to nail down your holiday outfits ahead of time, starting with stocking up on the best sweaters (opens in new tab) you can find that showcase your holiday cheer. And the good news: We're here to help.
Ahead, find 12 of the best women's holiday sweaters to sport this season, ranging from evergreen cashmere crewnecks you can wear year-round to super on-the-nose festive turtlenecks that Barbara in HR is guaranteed to love. Oh, and you'll find a few themed styles that prove the best Christmas sweaters don't always have to be "ugly."
What to Look For
- Color and Print
Olympia Gayot (opens in new tab), J.Crew’s Head of Women’s Design, says, first and foremost, consider your winter color palette. She personally loves "bright blues, deep purples, and pinks, in addition to the classic reds and greens" for the holiday season. "I encourage people to have fun with their style and find joy in getting dressed [during the winter season,]" says Gayot on the hues to try with your festive wares. "Just because the weather changes doesn’t mean your wardrobe has to become subdued—beautiful, saturated brights can light up a room in winter!"
This joyful approach, she says, applies to the prints of your holiday sweaters, too. Try a classic Fair Isle option in vibrant greens and blues, or go for something a bit more contemporary and graphic, like swirling candy cane stripes, that "mix complementing colors, such as red and pink."
Materials should always be top of mind when shopping for sweaters of all varieties. Luxe cashmere, extra-fuzzy mohair, alpaca wool—the exact fabrications come down to personal preference, of course, but also depend on what you want and need from your holiday sweater. Opt for a heavier wool if you're hoping for a knit that keeps you warm while caroling out in the snow or curling up on the couch for a Hallmark movie marathon. Or, if you want more of a lightweight sweater (opens in new tab) for when you're hard at work in the kitchen, baking pies and roasting chestnuts (Brussels sprouts) on the open fire (in the oven), try an open-knit cotton pointelle or an airy crochet (opens in new tab).
The best holiday sweaters, Gayot says, are those that you can keep in your rotation long after the seasonal festivities end. "Not only as a designer but as a woman and a shopper, I really live by the idea that I want to get great use out of my pieces," she tells Marie Claire, imploring you to consider the prolonged wearability of your holiday sweaters. She shouts out cashmere sweaters (opens in new tab) as being refined styles perfect for celebratory, seasonal get-togethers (the luscious material feels innately dressy) and that you can continue to reach for throughout the cold-weather season. "Cashmere is such a luxe investment piece [that] I want to wear it for more than just a month or two. They're not only something you can wear through the holidays but into spring and beyond," she details.
How to Style a Holiday Sweater
As for crafting the outfit to go along with your holiday sweater, Gayot advises you to try leaning into a preppy influence. "I would style a holiday sweater with a matching mini skirt and loafers under a collarless blazer or a tux jacket," offers J. Crew's Head of Design. "I also love [a holiday sweater] paired with slip skirts, slip dresses, drapey trousers, or jeans."
In addition, she encourages you to experiment with texture play for your holiday ensembles. "I rely a lot on layering and mixing textures in the winter, as it can look really sophisticated and dimensional," Gayot offers. "I love mixing fuzzy wool with patent leather and metallic accessories or pairing a cashmere sweater with a denim pant all in the same color family and then layering on a collarless top with a topcoat."
Shop the Best Women's Holiday Sweaters
- Best Cable-Knit Sweater: Zara Sparkly Cable Knit Sweater (opens in new tab)
- Best Cashmere Sweater: J. Crew Cashmere Relaxed V-Neck Sweater (opens in new tab)
- Best Fair Isle Sweater: Madewell Fair Isle Mayer Pullover Sweater (opens in new tab)
- Best Turtleneck: Derek Lam 10 Crosby Grammer Fair Isle Turtleneck (opens in new tab)
- Best Wool Sweater: ba&sh Ezio Sweater (opens in new tab)
- Best Sweater Vest: Vince Sleeveless Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater (opens in new tab)
- Best Cardigan: & Other Stories Wrap Cardigan (opens in new tab)
Best Cable-Knit Sweater
Remember Chris Evans's cable-knit sweater (opens in new tab) moment in Knives Out that the internet, understandably, obsessed over a few years ago? Well, this sparkly Zara version would be what his character would wear if he was gifted a bedazzling kit and got really into rhinestone appliques. It's perfect for White Elephant gift exchanges or office celebrations where you want to show your team a sneak peek into your after-hours style. And, bonus: As Gayot mentions earlier, the best holiday sweaters can be worn for non-holiday occasions, too, and this glammed-up cable-knit option absolutely falls into that category.
Best Striped Sweater
Not everyone enjoys the in-your-face kitsch of an ugly Christmas sweater—and that's more than okay. Tommy Hilfiger's Snowflake Striped Sweater makes for a more understated—yet still festive!—option. Classic Breton stripes with a wintery, Frosty the Snowman-approved twist, this crewneck pullover is the ideal holiday sweater for preppy style enthusiasts who wish to show their appreciation for the season's festivities in a way that still resonates with their personal taste. It's made of a lightweight cotton, too, so it's something you can layer without fear of overheating.
Best Cashmere Sweater
This is Gayot's personal favorite sweater for the winter 2022-2023 holiday season. "I can imagine the relaxed fit cashmere V-neck worn with a slip skirt and ballet slippers at home on a cold evening or having friends over for dinner," she offers, gushing over the jumper's multi-occasion wearability. "I can also see it worn to work with a pair of chic trousers and an oversized blazer, out to dinner with jeans and gold jewelry, to a party with a very long or super short skirt and heels, or worn running around the park with kids —it all works!"
Best Ribbed Sweater
If you like your wardrobe to reflect subtle artisanal details without veering too far into a boho direction, this embroidered Boden sweater is the one for you. It also offers a relaxed fit, so you'll be even more enthused if you like your sweaters on the baggier side. And since it's ribbed, you have ample opportunities for some inspired texture play, which, as you know, is one of Gayot's top styling tricks. Try styling this wool-blend sweater with cropped leather trousers and a pair of statement metallic hoops.
Best Fair Isle Sweater
Madewell offers its contemporary tweak on the classic Fair Isle sweater (opens in new tab) with this graphic pink and red style. One happy customer enthuses over its peppermint color palette, sharing, "I love the colors [because] it doesn't scream Christmas, but it's still very festive." Another reviewer adds that "it's a thinner-weight sweater that drapes nicely and"—drumroll, please!—" is not itchy," which is certainly a feat worth celebrating for a wool-blend sweater. For a put-together party look, try teaming it with a red slip skirt and white block-heel pumps.
Best Wool Sweater
“During the holidays, especially through the colder months, there’s nothing like a soft, cozy sweater,” says Gayot. And can you think of a knit more decadently warm and snuggly than one made of wool? Even better, this cozy option from ba&sh is made from ethically-sourced wool—aka wool that’s sourced from a well-treated sheep that lives on sustainably-managed pastures and farms. This is also an option you can wear well beyond the holiday season, as its classic v-neck silhouette and opulent orchid color make it endlessly versatile.
Best Graphic Sweater
Suppose your idea of a great holiday knit is a style with a comedic twist. However, you don't want it skewing into "ugly sweater" territory. In that case, NAADAM's picturesque skiing-goat crewneck will make your heart very happy. With its ribbed collar, a striped hem and cuffs, and white starscape, you're all but guaranteed to have the best Christmas sweater at the function—that is, if your bestie doesn't pull out all the stops like last year when she swept the ugly sweater contest with her light up, jingle bell cardigan.
Best Sweater Vest
Vince's sleeveless cable-knit top is another option to slip on when you have a long day of cooking and standing in front of the stove ahead of you. Furthermore, this cropped and boxy style offers an all-year wear (okay, well, maybe not during the summer months, but it certainly will take you all the way through spring). Style this ultra-soft wool sweater vest (opens in new tab) atop a white button-down (opens in new tab) and with dark-wash wide-leg jeans for a polished yet comfortable outfit to wear when hosting a holiday shindig.
Need a change in perspective? Start with this turtleneck from Derek Lam 10 Crosby, which puts the classic Fair Isle print on a slant. The asymmetrical take on the Scottish style makes the Grammer Turtleneck one of the more unexpected turtlenecks (opens in new tab) on winter 2022-2023's sweater market. And since it's made from an alpaca wool blend, you know the Grammer Turtleneck is uber-warm. Plus, it's offered in both bright green or baby pink, so you have your pick between either a crisp spearmint or blushing peppermint.
Offered in nine (nine!) different colorways, & Other Stories wants you to have an abundance of options this holiday season with its adorable wrap cardigan. The sweater features ribbed cuffs and hems, which add just the right amount of visual intrigue to the otherwise minimal design. However, the retailer does note that this style's oversized fit means it runs large and recommends ordering a size down than your typical size for a more accurate-to-form fit. Styling-wise, how about pairing this number with a sequinned skirt for a high-shine, festive ensemble?
Best Oversized Sweater
The best oversized sweaters are those that boast a comfortable, relaxed fit but don't completely swallow your figure whole. H&M's roomy and ribbed turtleneck does precisely that. One reviewer raves over its fit, saying, "[It's the] perfect length and weight. It can be slightly tucked in without being too bulky." Another shopper calls it "so soft and pretty" and advises to "buy your normal size for an oversized fit or size down to have it more fitted." If red isn't your go-to shade, try the ice-blue colorway, instead.
Best Statement Sweater
The Great is known for its playful takes on iconic wardrobe staples. Case in point: It's Ice Rink Alpaca-Blend Cardigan. Its Fair Isle-inspired graphics, puffy balloon sleeves, scalloped necklines and cuffs, and pom-pom drawstrings make it the perfect statement holiday sweater. Try styling it with basic blue jeans and your favorite ankle boots for a casual daytime look. You can even crank your holiday spirit all the way up by throwing on a warm winter hat (opens in new tab) with earflaps and matching pom-pom ties.
Meet the Expert
Olympia Gayot attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and upon graduating in 2003, began her career painting commissions and simultaneously designing for small brands and assisting stylists in editorial shoots. She first joined J.Crew in 2010 as a Design Director and was with the brand for seven years, followed by three years on the design team at Victoria’s Secret. In September 2020, Gayot returned to J.Crew as the Head of Women’s and Crewcuts Design, where she works with her team to create and deliver seasonal collections and collaborations with partners including, London-based Liberty, Cassi Namoda, and more. Gayot seeks inspiration from all around her; She looks to furniture, interiors, fabric, and New York architecture, along with ongoing research at her favorite galleries and bookstores.
Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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