They were once considered quite handsome -- those bulky Christmas sweaters adorned with reindeer, shiny snowflakes and even lights. If you grew up in the 70's or 80's your parents probably have at least one picture of you and your siblings all decked out in a matching set. Probably turtlenecks, if your parents were especially cruel. Those hideous sweaters disappeared for a while, but they've made an ugly comeback in recent years. And you can blame Nancy Schloetel, at least in part.
The next time you see someone sporting a Christmas sweater with an Elmo doll, Mariners logo or trio of Christmas ties attached, she is probably the person who committed that fashion crime.
"I could be the responsible person," she said with a chuckle. "And I'm happy about that."
Schloetel scours thrift stores, buying up the ugly and unwanted sweaters for a few bucks each. Then she adds her own offensive touches at her Mountlake Terrace home.
"I don't call them ugly. I call them whimsical," she says.
And business booming. Nancy has sold almost 200 sweaters so far.
"You really are spreading some Christmas cheer when you spread the ugliness."
But her success means cheap holiday sweaters are increasingly hard to find. The ugly sweater craze has people across the country hitting trift stores and buying them all up. A check of the Seattle Goodwill headquarters found just one little rack with slim pickings. Some sweaters are going for as much as $75 on ebay.
The trend has even spread to pets. Amy Cline of Puyallup took her dog Tank on a "walk of shame" today. Tank, barely big enough to warrant a leash, is outfitted in a red and green sweater adorned with candy canes, Christmas trees and snow flakes. Amy bought it at Target.
"I think he's embarrased. I'd be," she says, only half kidding.
Amy says she does have a limit to her tackiness. She adamantly states she will never wear a matching Christmas sweater with her dog. "It's just not happening."
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