4 Tips to Avoid Ugly Sweater Season
There’s something about the holidays that can bring out the ugly in sweaters. And this isn’t about the festively abrasive, ornamented-with-bells-and -garland-and-blinking-lights number that wins you a bottle of wine at your holiday office party.
This is about sweater fundamentals. It’s about the bits and pieces that can separate the “best sweater ever!” category from the “are you trying to torture me?” group.
How to Avoid Being the “Ugly Sweater Giver”
Just in time for gift-giving season, here are four essential tips to consider when you’re out shopping for this year’s round of sweaters.
Both cut and fabric blend play a role in how a sweater fits, but we’ll stick to cut here because we cover fabric further down.
When it comes to fit:
– Avoid: awkward lengths, boxy shapes, bunchy hemlines, constrictive cuffs or hems
– Double check: sleeve lengths (unnecessarily long, way too short), arm holes (too tight, too loose, borderline batwing), neck hole (too open, too tight, too low)
– Look for: well-placed seams and darts, the correct size for the person you’re buying for
Prana Lucia Sweater is comfortably hip length, with a flattering silhouette and on point princess seams, $126
A scratchy acrylic sweater that makes your skin break out in welts or a weird fabric blend that starts a chemical reaction in your sweat glands is not going to top anyone’s favourites list.
– Fabrics can be deceiving so do a cheek-rub test with the sleeve — even try it on if you have time — to double check that the hand feels okay against your skin, and not like a scouring pad.
– Err on the side of soft – no one is ever going to complain about being too comfortable
– Read fabric labels and stick with textiles you know
– Fabric blends with spandex tend to have better shape retention
Patagonia Lambswool V-Neck Sweater is soft to touch, and blended with nylon to increase its resilience $126
Oh, this is a slippery slope. Things can go from so good to so bad so quickly. Be wary of the following:
– Because of the repetition, really bold or busy patterns can end up wearing the wearer
– Super bright and chaotic designs can blind passersby, and a frenzy of fluorescent vectors is no reason for an accident
– Mixing patterns is fun, but the tipping point between fashion and clown is a blink (which may also just be a defense mechanism that your senses deploy against assaulting patterns)
Find a non-jarring striping pattern in the MEC CB Sweater, made from a cozy cotton-wool blend, $55
There’s ornamentation (see the Santa Claus sweater at the top of this post), and then there’s notions (think buttons). While the difference between a sequin and a snap may seem insignificant, it actually represents the difference between bling and function. This isn’t to say that someone in your life can’t love a little bedazzling or a clip-on camellia, but that you need to know they’re that type of person before springing a faux-fur cowl neck on them.
With buttons and a draw cord, perhaps the Patagonia Ranchito Hoody can serve as a middle ground, $156
And just by considering these four simple elements, you’ve elevated yourself from “Ugly Sweater Giver” to “Sweater Style Expert.”
Shop sweaters and long-sleeved t-shirts for men, women, and kids, or check out our ultimate Gift Guide for our top holiday picks.
Whistler GranFondo: Humbled, Fitted, Tuned Up, and Ready
What my training has largely taught me is that road cycling is an exercise in humility. One day your legs feel amazing and endless and you find yourself flying up 1500m of elevation. And then the next day, you get passed by a man on a derelict BMX, who’s wearing rubber boots and a backwards helmet.
Whistler GranFondo: I Got MAP’ed
There are some marked differences between my previous goal – a flat, 60km course where the emphasis was on it being a community, not a competitive, ride – and my current goal, the Whistler GranFondo. The GranFondo is a 122km route with 2000m, give or take, of elevation gain. And it’s definitely a race. People can win money, for Pete’s sake.
Whistler GranFondo: Here We Come
I can’t say for certain what caused this.
Maybe it was that the Tour de France started, or that I came away from the Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t Hide 60km fairly unscathed. I’m not sure,
Ride Don’t Hide – Where Rubber Hits The Road
Two more sleeps until the race.
The miles are logged, the hills have been climbed, and (with complete elation) the speed work is over. So now, with race package in hand, it’s just the waiting game until the start line.
Ride Don’t Hide – The Pack Mentality
June 2–8 was Commuter Challenge week. As one might imagine, this is an event in which MEC staff are creative and willing participants. The group I hooked up with for our epic commute to work met at 7am, and proceeded to ride for 31.5km and gain 348m of elevation*.
Ride Don’t Hide – Go Away Injuries, and Stay Away
Overall, I feel like things are really starting to click with my training schedule. Last weekend, I did my 50km long ride in a pair of chamois shorts, arm warmers, and a jersey, and it was amazing. I felt fast and light and was acknowledged by at least three roadies. Granted, it was three very subtle nods, but I know they were saying “Welcome to the club, friend!”
Ride Don’t Hide – Somedays, It Feels Like An Uphill Battle
The thing about training in Vancouver is that hills are inevitable. My quads have confirmed that. And the further you ride, the more you seem to encounter. Thankfully, the Ride Don’t Hide 60km route doesn’t have any crazy climbs in it, but much like the speed work that my training program calls for, I’m sure that incorporating a hill or two into my training will help build strength and endurance.