How to Complement Your Ugly Holiday Sweater.

We all get them at some point in our lives ... the hideous holiday sweater. Whether it’s a sincere gift from a well-meaning relative, or a gag gift from your friends, it’s hard to throw them away. They are just so hideous, you feel obligated to keep them to prove their very existence. But you’d never be caught wearing them in public. Right?

If you feel compelled to wear one, here are some tips to help you make the most of your look.

The bottom.

The sweater itself is the showpiece of the outfit. So, it’s best to pair it with an understated pant or skirt in a darker color. If the sweater is particularly shapeless and oversized (as many are), leggings would work for the ladies. But understated does not mean well-fitting, or even fashionable. As long as it isn’t a burlap sack, you’re probably ok.

The shoes.

It’s key that you add a splash of color or sparkle on your shoes to bring the eye down from the shock-and-awe of the sweater itself. The pant or skirt provides the visual break as a spectator views the entire outfit, but then the gazer’s eyes should be rewarded with some shiny diversion by the floor to punctuate the look.

So ladies, find some heels in a bright color, or better yet, a metallic. Ideally there’s some sparkle in the form of fake jewels or bows. Men, replace your laces with colorful ones (preferably with snowflakes on them). Loafers are another acceptable choice.

The hair.

For men, there are really only three options. If your hair is on the longer side, leave it as unkempt as possible. The bed-head look is a great complement to an ugly sweater. If your hair is well-trimmed, add a splash of gel. Make it as helmet-head-y as possible. Think Lorenzo Lamas’ character in “Grease.” If you are balding, or have some hair, please go for a comb-over. Comb-overs are the “crowning” jewel to an ugly sweater. No matter which option you choose, never wear a hat unless it’s a red Santa hat with a white snowball on top. Any other hat is off-limits.

Ladies, ugly sweaters really need big hair. Your head could literally disappear in the eye of the viewer due to the blinding quality of the sweater itself, so we need the hair a bit on the larger side to balance the effect. Don’t be shy ... get your crimping iron out too for additional holiday cheer.

If your hair doesn’t do big, then go the complete opposite and be as limp as possible. Just apply some blue eyeshadow or thick glasses to compensate.

The jewelry.

For ladies, big, shiny earrings are a must. No necklaces please, though if you must, make sure it’s a charm-type necklace in gold with pictures inside so you can bore other guests as you fumble with the latch to show off pictures of people they could care less about.

Men, all you really need is a watch. A very large watch on your left wrist. The bigger the better.

The bag/purse.

Bags and purses are not required. Your pants or skirt should have unshapely pockets large enough to hold all of your crap, and the mens’ wallets should be shoved into the back pocket in as unsightly a way as possible. You really want to keep your hands free from carrying bags in order to keep the deluge of spectators away as they come forth to embrace you in your holiday splendor.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user betsyweber under the Creative Commons Attribution license.