To get in the festive spirit, it helps to dress the part. And for us, that starts with our top half. Enter a Christmas jumper, whether that’s something overtly kitsch or one that’s a little more paired back.
While Christmas jumpers have adopted a bad reputation for many reasons – some may say the Marmite of the fashion world – there really is something for everyone.
We’re relieved to say that there’s never been more choice when it comes to seasonal knitwear – you no longer need to go full-blown Rudolph if you don’t want to.
For something more understated and timeless we’d advise opting for a classic Fair Isle print, which will also work to cheer up a dreary January afternoon when the festivities are well and truly over. Of course, there’s also ample opportunity to go unapologetically bold, while still avoiding novelty sweaters that only get worn once a year.
With all that in mind, cast aside your aspersions of Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy-inspired knits, because, in our opinion, these are some of the most stylish Christmas jumpers out there.
How we tested
Owing to the environmental implications of novelty sweaters, we paid close attention to whether it transcends the festive period and whether it would last year after year.
This was a joint team effort, with every jumper being tested for comfort, its high-quality feel, and of course for its ability to spread festive cheer, after all, ‘tis the season to be jolly.
The best Christmas jumpers in 2021 are:
Best charity Christmas jumper – Big Wild Thought unisex Christmas ocean theme jumper: £45, Bigwildthought.co.uk
Best light up Christmas jumper – Next men’s red light up Christmas jumper: £36, Next.co.uk
Best for cosy chic – Marks & Spencer women’s fair isle crew new relaxed jumper: £29.50, Marksandspencer.com
Best understated jumper – Marks & Spencer men’s bear Christmas jumper: £19.50, Marksandspencer.com
Best fair isle knit – Kitri women’s Elliott fair isle sweater: £125, Kitristudio.com
Best roll-neck – Asos design men’s knitted Christmas jumper with fairisle stag in red: £25, Asos.com
Best for the cryptocurrency fanatic – Notjust unisex merry cryptmas cryptocurrency knitted Christmas jumper: £37.99, Notjustclothing.co.uk
Best family Christmas jumper – Joules men’s the cracking novelty intarsia jumper: £44.95, Joules.com
Best starry design – Monsoon women’s Stacy star knit jumper: £60, Monsoon.co.uk
Best for alternative festive colours – Asos Design women’s foundation Christmas jumper: £28, Asos.com
Best slogan jumper – Chinti & Parker women’s navy merry and bright wool-cashmere sweater: £250, Chintiandparker.com
Best for grown-up glamour – All Saints women’s star jumper: £159, Zalando.co.uk
Best for traditional design – Joules women’s Miranda festive intarsia crew neck jumper: £59.95, Joules.com
Best patterned jumper – Boden women’s Christmas jumper: £95, Boden.co.uk
Big Wild Thought Christmas ocean theme unisex jumper
Best: Charity Christmas jumper
With four new festive designs for this year, Big Wild Thought’s Christmas jumpers are undeniably cute – making it hard to choose just one. One of our favourite things about this brand is its "wear and care" ethos, with 10 per cent of all sales going to relevant animal charities. In this case, it is WDC, the whale and dolphin conservation. Away from the usual festive scenery of reindeer or penguins, we love how the brand has thought outside of the box and come up with this ocean-themed jumper. Our favourite character is the narwhal, as well as the little clownfish and turtle both carrying a present, too.
It’s made from 85 per cent organic cotton and it’s vegan approved. It’s a cosy thick sweater that’s fleecy on the inside, with decent length in both the body and arms. We’ve also got our eye on one of last year’s designs, the duck in a Christmas hat and scarf. Each one of the sweaters comes in three colours; bottle green, burgundy and natural raw. Available in six sizes from extra small to 2XL, all jumpers arriving in plastic-free packaging too.
But don’t forget, a festive knit is not just for Christmas, as according to research from environmental charity, Hubbub, one in three adults under 35 buy a new Christmas jumper every year. In a bid to encourage wearing these jumpers more than just during the annual festivities, Big Wild Thought is offering a £5 gift card to anyone who can show evidence (either on social media or by email) of themselves wearing a BWT jumper from 1 November 2022 onwards. Challenge accepted.
Buy now £45.00, Bigwildthought.co.uk
Next men’s red light up Christmas jumper
Best: Light up Christmas jumper
Treading the line between naff novelty sweater and chic Christmas evening wear, this attention-grabbing light-up jumper from Next features a cheeky little doofus of a reindeer. You might expect the nose to flash red here, but Next defies convention by festooning the deer’s antlers in twinkling Christmas lights. Strokeable artificial fur and a tidy little scarf around the beast’s neck complete the look.
Buy now £36.00, Next.co.uk
Marks & Spencer women’s fair isle crew new relaxed jumper
Best: For cosy chic
Just slipping on this bright and beautiful jumper from M&S instantly made us feel like the stars of our very own Netflix holiday romcom – it somehow manages to hit “Christmassy” without resorting to reindeers and snowmen, giving it a slightly more sophisticated edge. You could definitely get away with going down a size if you’re between two, as the cut is quite boxy, and while the recycled polyester fabric may not sound super swanky, it does a really excellent job of keeping you warm. At under £30, it’s a very welcome addition to our winter wardrobes – keep things simple with jeans and a pair of ankle boots for effortless Christmas chic. And if Santa red is not quite your thing, it’s also available in grey.
Buy now £29.50, Marksandspencer.com
Marks & Spencer men’s bear jumper
Best: Understated jumper
Christmas jumpers don’t always have to be a garish novelty item that you wheel out once a year and throw into the back of your wardrobe once it’s had its fun. This jumper from M&S features an understated bear design that’s cosy, warm, well-woven, and won’t have you feeling embarrassed when you wear it into the office several times a week. It features comfy ribbed trims and a smart classic crew neck, plus it didn’t too feel too tight or suffocating when we were wearing it, giving us enough room for that extra mince pie.
Buy now £19.50, Marksandspencer.com
Kitri Elliott women’s Fair Isle sweater
Best: Fairisle jumper
It simply couldn’t be a review of Christmas jumpers without a Fair Isle design, and this one is right up our street. It has a slightly cropped, vintage-style cut, and to make it a festive party-ready, we’d wear it with a pair of black leather trousers (£39.50, Marksandspencer.com) or a sequinned midi skirt (£49.99, Zara.com). We’re obsessed with the pink colour and the fact the pattern has been drawn in-house. It’s also available as a V-neck vest (£89, Kitristudio.com), which we love equally as much. This sweater is a definite must-have for winter.
Buy now £125.00, Kitristudio.com
Asos Design men’s knitted Christmas jumper with Fair Isle stag in red
A soft, chunky-knit Christmas roll-neck that’s smart enough to wear the moment the thermometer drops into single digits, this cosy jumper from Asos sports all of the classics of the genre. You’ve got your reindeers frolicking in the snow. You’ve got your snowflakes all lined up in a row. You’ve got your pointy trees. This subtly festive, red and white sweater whispers Christmas rather than screaming it.
Buy now £25.00, Asos.com
Joules women’s Miranda festive intarsia crew neck jumper
Best: For traditional design
This super soft, sustainable yarn offering from Joules definitely put our tester in the Christmas mood. With a crew neck design and slim fit, it’s super wearable and easy to tuck into a pair of jeans or, indeed, pyjamas if you don’t plan on getting dressed. The little sparkly robin is a classy nod to the festive season rather than the typical Christmas chintz you see around this time of year.
Buy now £59.95, Joules.com
Monsoon women’s Stacy star knit jumper
Best: Starry design
A great option for those wanting something festive yet not overtly Christmassy, this Monsoon jumper boasts a rich red colourway and is given detailing with two large pale and dusty pink stars that are decorated with silver gems. The turtleneck gives it a cocooning level of comfort and it is soft to touch. We’d recommend getting a larger size for an oversized fit and throwing it over a black mini dress or jeans on Christmas day. It gets extra kudos for being more eco conscious too, thanks to being part of the brand’s sustainable range.
Buy now £60.00, Monsoon.co.uk
Asos Design foundation women’s Christmas jumper
Best: Alternative Christmas colours
If you’re after novelty, but a little more outside the box, this is the jumper for you. Forget traditional festive colours, here Asos has thrown out the rule book and gone for baby pink and blue and we are so here for it. It has kept the very traditional Fair Isle-style print, however.
It’s not the best quality jumper we’ve ever worn, but here we’re more into the design, and for less than £30, we think it’s a great buy. Plus, we know it will certainly be more than a one hit wonder with our festive wardrobes, and will no doubt be brought out year after year to revel in.
Buy now £28.00, Asos.com
Chinti & Parker women's navy merry and bright wool-cashmere sweater
Best: Slogan jumper
Founded in 2009 by Anna Singh and Rachael Wood, this brand is known for its quality pieces and bright and bold designs, and its Christmas range is no different. Since its concept, the brand has strived to do better than the average Joe clothing company, by using quality materials that are built to last. And that doesn’t mean you should only save your Christmas jumper for just the festive season, as when they look this good you can wear them anytime.
This one is one of the best slogan designs we’ve seen in a long time – the “merry and bright” message in the rainbow colourway is an instant mood-booster. For us, we can’t help but smile when we read it, and of course, wear it. The wool and cashmere blend makes it super soft, too. We’re teaming it with sparkly wide cropped trousers for the ultimate festive get-up. It comes up a little small (although not short on the arms), so if you want a more oversized fit, size up. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s a jumper you’ll reach for year after year.
Buy now £250.00, Chintiandparker.com
Notjust unisex merry Cryptmas cryptocurrency knitted Christmas jumper
Best: For the cryptocurrency fanatic
If you’re as bullish on crypto as we are, and aren’t afraid of no bear market, then you’re going to love this Cryptmas jumper from British independent clothing company Notjust. With this knit, you can wear your Bitcoin on your sleeve – literally – as you sing the praises of decentralised finance over the Christmas turkey.
It’s intricately stitched, featuring bulls, rocket ships and acronyms that only a cryptoHODLer will know. It’s made from a nice, soft recycled yarn, which has kept us warm over the colder nights, and we particularly enjoy the thick padded collar. Notjust notes that 50 per cent of the profits are donated to supporting mental health charities. This initiative features across the company’s Three Lions (£37.99, Notjustclothing.co.uk), David Attenborough (£49.99, Notjustclothing.co.uk) and Princess Diana-inspired (£37.99, Notjustclothing.co.uk) jumpers too. And, of course, you can pay with crypto.
Buy now £37.99, Notjustclothing.co.uk
Joules men’s the cracking novelty intarsia jumper
Best: Family Christmas jumper
Available in men’s, women’s, kids’ and dogs’ sizes, this popping red knitted jumper by Joules threatens to take your next Christmas family photo to unprecedented levels of cheesiness. This is a neat, boxy, slim fit starring a cheeky little festive pup knitted into the sweater, just above the waistline. He’s perfectly located to just about peep out above the dinner table while you’re reaching for the brussel sprouts. An infinitely pleasing sight and a premium, well-constructed jumper.
Buy now £44.95, Joules.com
All Saints women’s star jumper
Best: For grown-up glamour
Not all Christmas jumpers have to be colourful and cheesy, as this classic number from All Saints proves. The crew neck and black and grey colourway give it a timeless feel, and it’s made from a super soft wool alpaca blend, which we found wasn’t remotely itchy (a coup for a festive knit in and of itself).
The fit is pleasantly slouchy – perfect if, like us, you like to squeeze in multiple mince pies with no fear of constrictive regret – and while the price tag isn’t cheap, it’s stylish enough to wear post-December too, which we feel maximises cost per wear. If you’re in the market for something just a smidge glitzier, we also liked the All Saints sparkle jumper (£119, Allsaints.com), which is just as elegant and £40 cheaper to boot.
Buy now £159.99, Zalando.co.uk
Boden Christmas jumper, festive Fair Isle
Best: Patterned jumper
If there’s a jumper that screams a jolly good Christmas, then this is it. The design features all the classic things you associate with the festive season: gingerbread, snowmen and robins, along with a fun Fair Isle pattern. The snowmen and robins are also adorned with embroidered hats – a lively extra touch. The colours make it a little bit different from your traditional Christmas jumpers, and it’s made from a wool-blend (ie it’s super soft and cosy). If you like a more baggy fit for your festive wear, we’d recommend sizing up once, if not twice. And, if you want to match with your mini-me, it’s also available in kids sizes (£40, Boden.co.uk).
Buy now £95.00, Boden.co.uk
The verdict: Christmas jumpers
Christmas jumpers get a bad reputation, but we hope our round-up of the best has proved that they can be anything but dowdy. The one that stood out to us the most was of course Big Wild Thought’s unisex jumper, which is your classic festive sweater reimagined. With a sustainable and charitable focus, you really can’t go wrong. And in the unlikely event the ocean-themed design isn’t your favourite, there are plenty of others to choose from, including Christmas tree elephants and a mallard duck dressed up with a festive hat and scarf. There really is something for everyone.
For discounts on festive fashion, try the links below:
Looking for gifting inspiration? Read our guide to the best Secret Santa gifts under £10