The 12 Best Holiday Sweaters Offer Plenty of Festive Flair

Far from the "ugly" Christmas sweaters you're used to.

Two women wearing J.Crew's holiday sweaters
(Image credit: J. Crew)

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 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, 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."

  • Material

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 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.

  • Wearability

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 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

Diane Batoukina wears a red women's holiday sweater.

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

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

Meet the Expert

Olympia Gayot
Olympia Gayot

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
Fashion Features Editor

Emma Childs is the Fashion Features Editor at Marie Claire, who writes trend reports, long-form reported features, and style guides. 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 fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage and perusing HBO Max (in her heart, it'll always be *HBO* MX).