Beyond Retro Presents: History of Christmas Jumpers

Beyond Retro Presents: History of Christmas Jumpers

December 25th. The year? 1AD.

A fresh little baby Jesus, kicking back in his crib. Mother Mary is wiped, and after nine months preggers, she’s well up for an eggnog.

She tries in vain to catch her hubby’s eye, but not a chance. Why?

Three Wise Blokes, who just turned up to watch that baby get born, are showing off their gifts… a truly holy knitwear selection, which they are modelling for maximum effect.

Staff at Beyond Rero Brighton Modelling their Knitwear.

The first Shrewd Dude has a sparkly number, glittering under the night sky, a fabulous bright gold. The second Knowledgeable Guy is wearing a classic red and green, with ‘Talk To Frankincense’ emblazoned on the chest. The third and final Sensible Chap’s torso is entirely occupied by a woven picture of Olly Murs. With antlers.

Joseph doesn’t know who Olly Murs is yet (though by God he will), but he doesn’t mind. Cos these lads showing up has changed his festive wardrobe, and his life, forever. And also, he’s chuffed because his wife had a good baby.

Of course, we all know that story. The tale of how the Christmas jumper came to be. The weird thing is though, that no one wore them again till basically the 1950s. Which is mad, ‘cause they’re tremendous.

Some Randoms in the 1950s.

History of the Nordic Knit

Perhaps inspired by that tale - but more likely by the thick, geometrically-patterned, woven-hygge Scandi knits, worn from the 19th century onwards by everyone from ice-cold fishermen to Ingrid Bergman - decorated woolly jumpers found their way to the UK in the 1950s.

Woolly jumpers, hats and cardigans (and of course socks, the Christmas jumper’s evil little twin brothers), led a knitwear revolution that gradually started to replace dresses and suits as the winter gifts of choice.

The ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ itself, with festive designs such as snowmen, reindeer and X-Factor runners-up, found its way into popular culture over the next couple of decades, adorning such style icons as crooner Val Doonican, presenter Timmy Mallett, and w***er Gyles Brandreth*, very much the Three Wise Men of their time.

Andy Williams Christmas Jumper

When Christmas Jumpers Went Downhill.

The rebirth of the Christmas Jumper

Then something very sad happened. Despite such trailblazing, youth-culture icons flying the festive flag for the Xmas weave, they started to be seen as basically a bit naff.

However, on 13th April 2001, nearly two millennia later, a saviour was born.

Colin ‘Sexy Lake Man’ Firth, playing the emotionally-constipated heartthrob Mark Darcy, showed up at Bridget Jones’s mum’s mate’s party, in cinemas across the world… wearing a massive woolly reindeer on his tummy. Hallelujah.

Mark Darcy Christmas Jumper

The Jumper in Question.

From then on, ‘Ugly’ Christmas jumpers rose again into the mainstream.

Not without a good helping of humour and more than a smidge of irony, of course, our favourite yuletide pullovers found their way onto the high street like never before, onto high-fashion catwalks, melting the hearts of designers such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry and both Dolce AND Gabbana.

They even prompted an alternative range produced by thrash metal veterans, Slayer.

Slayer's Christmas Jumpers.

Our Favourite Vintage Christmas Jumpers

Nowadays, the Christmas jumper is a must-have in the winter wardrobe.

Practical, adaptable and ugly-cute, they pair well with almost any personal style. Whether you’re going for the ice-cool-at-Christmas vibe, getting swept away by the Yuletide, or going full-out ho-ho-ho, a vintage knit is a versatile and fun feature piece.

Vintage Nordic Knitwear

One of the jolliest things about vintage knitwear is the perfect opportunity it offers to help support change, as the world moves towards sustainable fashion. Shockingly, in 2017, one in four high street-bought Christmas jumpers were discarded after the holiday period. What the Dickens?!

For a more sustainable option, cosy up in a retro Nordic knit from Christmasses Past, that still looks great Christmas Present, and will just get better for Christmasses Yet to Come.

They pair perfectly with a port red lipstick, ankle boots, and a 70s wide-leg trouser for timeless tidings. God bless us, every one!

Vintage Christmas Jumper Beyond Retro

Nordic Knit, £26.

Slogan Christmas Jumpers

In more recent trends, Christmas jumpers have opened up a world of possibilities in woven slogans, puns and pop culture references.

Avoid disposable fast fashion, and keep the North Pole very merry, by wearing upcycled sweaters just like our reworked LABEL ones.

These looks are perfect for a statement-heavy but a fashion-friendly approach to the wacky world of Winterval.

If it’s not too snowy, match with your favourite jeans and a pair of Converse for a 90s casual look.

Vintage Christmas Jumper Beyond Retro

Label Slogan Sweatshirt, £17

Christmas Cardigans

Sure, if you want to go all out, get yourself a dancing, singing, turkey hat, a pair of elf leggings, St. Nick’s beard, and a 3D jumper with baubles, bells, a removable Rudolph, and all the trimmings.

But of course, the holiday period is a time of year for everyone! So, if you are too alternative for advents, and mince pies are a bit mainstream, a bold print on a black Christmas cardigan can look edgy when paired with Docs, cropped trousers, an oversized winter coat and a trawler.

Vintage Christmas Cardigan from Beyond Retro

Christmas Cardigan £19

Most merrily of all, ‘tis the only season you can prance about like a sassy Noël Edmonds and still get a kiss under the mistletoe, so whichever woolly wonder you wear this Winter, just get out there, and sleeeeeeeeeeeigh!!! 

The Royal Family in Theirs.

Get your Christmas jumper now!

*Not being rude, it’s true. Gyles Brandreth is a writer.

Get To Know Nordic Knits

Get To Know Nordic Knits

Winter is in full swing which means we have now entered peak jumper season. Whilst ugly Christmas jumpers are pretty much inescapable, it's classier Nordic knit cousin is a fabulously cosy and way less garish option for those who want to keep warm in style. This is a must-have item for both those into Scandinavian styling and the consistently cold.

nordic knitwear, scandi

The Origin of Nordic Knitwear

The traditional Nordic sweater features a wide decorative pattern around the neckline which is the same all the way around, meaning that you can wear it either way round and it wouldn't make a difference. It's named from the Icelandic lopapeysa from "Lopa" meaning wool and "peysa" translating to the sweater.

What are Nordic jumpers made from?

The real deal is always made from pure Icelandic wool with both inner and outer fibres that originate from sheep bred over 1000 years in sub-Arctic climates. There's nothing else quite like it in the world and anything manufactured else wear is considered a knockoff, the quality texture of the genuine product is both glossy and water resistant.

The Story behind the iconic Nordic pattern

You won't find many bright colours in these cuddly creations as the wool is mostly used in its natural hues: black, brown, grey and white. Although knitting came to Iceland in the mid-sixteenth century, this style of the jumper wasn't adopted until around the 1950's when they became an invented symbol of national identity following the countries' break away from Denmark. It's argued that the pattern draws inspiration from South American, Turkish and Swedish designs.

Norwegian variants of the Winter staple dates as far back as the 1500s and contribute to some of the most popular designs of the sweater to date. These versions of the Nordic sweater tend to be ever so slightly more colourful than their Icelandic counterparts. Two of the most renowned patterns attributed to this style are the setesdal lusekofte and the fana cardigan sweater.

Nordic Knitwear in Popular Culture

Nordic knit sweaters have been popular for Ski holidays since the 1930s. The 1950s saw the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly wearing these knit classic, right through the 1970s where Nordic knitwear became all the fashion for everyday winter wear.

Ingrid Bergman 1940s

The jumper was originally designed by Anna-Lisa Mannheimen around 1940 and the red edge pattern is a signature look from Swedish born actress Ingrid Bergman.

Grace Kelly 1960s

    The ever so chic Princess, and one of the worlds all-time timeless style icons. Seen here in a simple Nordic design cardigan in the late 1960s.

    Prince Charles 1980s

      It’s not every day you call Charles for some style inspo, but this cardigan polo neck combination is a must-have look for winter in a look that screams James Bond ski holiday.  

      Amy Pond in Dr Who 2011

        A modern take on the traditional jumper, and the beginning of the craze of wearing festive knitwear on Christmas day. Amy Pond from Dr Who pulls off a take on a traditional pattern from 1930s ski knitwear.

        Nordic Knitwear We Love

        Nowadays, Nordic and Scandinavian sweater fashions can be seen everywhere from the catwalk to the high street, and everywhere in between. Style them with a pair of high waisted jeans and a sturdy pair of winter boots and you'll have yourself the cosiest ever Winter outfit, ready to tackle the great outside or cuddle up with a book indoors.

        Men's Nordic Jumper

          Vintage Nordic Sweater From Beyond Retro

          Nordic Jumper

          The more traditional men's Nordic jumper isn’t just for a weekend of fishing in the icey scandi countryside, they are the perfect winter warmer and a staple wardrobe piece! Whatever era your style falls under, they are a go-to paired with classic wool-blend trousers and high top Converse for the ultimate daytime look.

          Nordic Cardigan

            Vintage Nordic Cardigan At Beyond Retro

            Nordic Cardigan

            The cosier cousin of the jumper, your cardigan can take any outfit a long way! Go for classic 1960s look and pair yours with a simple polo neck and high waisted capri pants, you can also dress this up for Christmas day and pair with a vintage dress, perfect after Christmas dinner and way too many glasses of Baileys...

            Non-Traditional Jumper

              Vintage Nordic Jumper

              Nordic Jumper

              The bolder the better when it comes to a non-traditional Nordic knit. Great for everyday wear and enough to brighten up anyone’s cold Monday morning. Pair with vintage Levis and ankle boots for a timelessly on trend look.

              Inspired? Read more about the humble Christmas jumper on our ultimate guide and show off your purchased on Instasgram by tagging #beyondretro.

              Blogger @livpurvis in one of our vintage Nordic Knits

              Words Mary Costello
              Keeping Christmas Sustainable

              Keeping Christmas Sustainable

              It may be the most wonderful time of the year but the sheer amount of waste that occurs every festive season isn’t exactly bringing joy to the world. According to WRAP (Waste And Resources Action Programme), every year 500 tonnes of Christmas tree lights are thrown out as are 277,000 miles of wrapping paper, 74 million mince pies, 2 million turkeys and 250 tonnes worth of tree. That’s not even half of it!

              But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drop the festivities and immediately become a Scrooge, far from it! With a little bit of innovation, you can have yourself a merry little Christmas, just with a touch more sustainably. Here are a handful of ideas to keep you rockin’ around the responsibly sourced Christmas tree come December 25th.

              Swap The Wrapping Paper For Something Even Cuter

              Whilst recycling your used wrapping paper is an incredibly environmentally kind thing to do, getting rid of the stuff completely would be ideal. Trading a potential paper cut infliction for something soft and reusable such as a silk scarf, not only looks fabulous but will be treasured for life (or reused again to wrap your present next year). It’s essentially an extra gift. See our handy GIF for reference of assembly.

              Buy a set of three silk scarves from our website, or come into one of our stores to find the perfect pattern yourself.

              Ask What They Want

              Three People In Vintage Christmas Jumpers

              To reduce the fear of seeing your hard sought Christmas present in your local charity shop come New Years, or worse: the bin, have you ever considered asking your chosen recipient what they actually want? Perhaps instead of that kind of cute but totally unnecessary onesie you’ve been eyeing up in a branch of your preferred fast-fashion chain store, they are in dire need of a new sweatshirt after managing to spill red wine all down theirs at the work Christmas party. Think about it.

              Shop Vintage And Second Hand

              Two People in Christmas Jumpers

              One man’s trash is another one’s treasured Christmas gift! Not only does shopping vintage and secondhand drastically reduces negative impacts on the world around us but the quality of genuine vintage clothing is way better than modern-day high street garb. One pair of brand new jeans uses over 5000 pints of water in the production line, and you don’t need that kind of guilt playing on your mind when there’s delicious food to be eaten and perfect telly to be watched.

              Buy Vintage Christmas Jumpers

              You’ve probably heard us go on about how vintage is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact, but it’s true! And besides, no Christmas is complete without a jazzy jumper. Shop unique throwback styles complete with all the usual trimmings to bring some extra Christmas spirit to your celebration.

              Three Staff From Beyond Retro In Christmas Jumpers

              Vegan Food Christmas Alternatives

              Although meat eaters literally won’t stop going on about pigs in blankets every festive season, raising livestock causes over half of the world’s global emissions and animal farming creates around 18% of all greenhouse gases. Swapping to a nut roast with deliciously seasoned vegetables and a veggie stuffing could warm your stomachs without contributing to global warming.

              Sustainable Decorations

              Forking out for new tinsel and baubles every year, only for them to be cast away to sit in landfills forever isn’t so jolly. Try opting for something a little kinder like hung pine cones or chains made from recycled paper, even turning your old CDs into baubles. You can even make little gingerbread shapes and attach them to your tree using ribbon!

              Sustainable Christmas Wreath Decoration

              Gift Vouchers

              There’s nothing worse than receiving a present you’d never use, except maybe being the giver of the said gift. Let your loved one choose some goodies for themselves with a gift card, which we have available both online and in store. Waste not, want not.

              Shop Gift Vouchers AT Beyond Retro

              Cutting Christmas Waste

              We live in a society where being 100% waste free is genuinely impossible, but there are a few tricks to making it a little bit better. Cut down on your Christmas waste by donating any leftovers to food banks, downloading the Olio no waste food app and reusing gift bags when possible!

              Phone Showing Waste Reducing App

              Out With The Old

              In the disastrous event of receiving a gift so horrendous and unlike anything you’d ever imagine owning, or maybe your new gift renders an old favourite useless, perhaps you should consider donating elsewhere. Either drop it off at a local charity shop or re-gift to someone who could really need it. And after all, there’s always eBay, Depop, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree!


              Recycling Sign

              Stuck for gifting ideas? Check out our online store and bag yourself or your loved ones the perfect Christmas present from our website

              Disco style party outfits

              Party Season Inspiration From Studio 54

              Party season is well underway and there's no better inspiration for vintage party wear than the infamous Studio 54.

              The former nightclub located at 254 West 54th Street, bang in between Eighth Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan, was the pinnacle of 70's hedonism.

              World famous for it's beyond imaginatively themed parties where everybody from postmen and retail assistants would be rubbing shoulders to disco tunes with celebrities and the incredibly wealthy, granted you were dressed fabulously enough to get past the lucrative doormen.

              One time Bianca Jagger even rode in across the dance floor on a white horse - totally iconic! 

              How To Get The Look


              1970s style glamour


              With December being the time for celebrating, whether it be your work Christmas party or New Year's Eve with your very best friends, there's no doubt that it's time to dress to impress and this year we're fully inspired.

              Channelling our inner diva, we're into velvet dresses under 70s shearling coats in every colour and statement accessories or shimmering hosiery to match.

              It's time to get on your dancing shoes and the higher the heel the closer to God. We recommend the biggest platform shoes known to mankind because le freak, c'est chic. 


              Party season style inspiration


              Not only does layering up to protect you from the bitter cold (seriously, it's minus two degrees at the time of writing this) but it gives you more of a chance to show off your look and exquisite styling skills. Throw a glamorous jacket over a sparkly vintage roll neck, a silk scarf over a retro jumper or even a raunchy fishnet body under a flared leg jumpsuit. Even making an entrance in a striking faux fur jacket for extra fabulousness wouldn't go amiss. After all, you can always ditch it in the cloakroom when things start hotting up. 


              Party outfits

              ✨Shop party tops ✨

              Whilst Studio 54 unfortunately closed down forever following the owner's arrest over tax evasion, it's still possible to party like we're there.

              Although arriving on an animal is probably more hassle than it's worth, it's almost necessary to go all out just to keep the spirit of the outrageous venue alive. 

              Gold sequined dress

              ✨ Shop the perfect NYE look ✨

              Still in need of desperate party outfit inspo?
              Head to our website and discover a whole universe of vintage goodies, ready for both party times and chilling out at home in front of Netflix the next day with a hangover. Don't worry, we've all been there. 

              Photographer: Greg Bailey 
              Make up: Evie Eden 
              Styling/Direction: Charlotte Lewis
              Assistants:Mary Costello + Hatti Rex
              Models: Chanel Ava Theo 

              Last Minute Gift Ideas From Beyond Retro

              Last Minute Gift Ideas From Beyond Retro

              The weather outside is frightful and the wine is so delightful but if you don't get your Christmas presents soon, the situation could be frightful. Luckily at Beyond Retro, we have your back with a fabulously festive selection of gifting goodies, perfect for stocking fillers or secret Santa surprises available in just a few clicks. What's better is that many of our favourites are now reduced in price, meaning that you'll have a couple of extra pennies to spend on Christmas Eve drinks. Ding dong merrily on high!


              Christmas Jumpers

              Whether your office is participating in an ugliest Christmas jumper competition or you simply want your loved one to have the best day ever, our selection of vintage treats is not to be rivalled. From cute and simple designs to outright distasteful disasters, even just a quick scroll through will have you giggling into your eggnog.

              Even better, they've all been reduced to £14.95 in time for the big day!


              Wool And The Gang Knitting Kits 

              When they've overstuffed themselves with dinner and mince pies or can't be bothered to watch Home Alone for the tenth time this month, your loved ones will appreciate a fun wholesome activity as the day draws to a close. Our reduced price knitting kits from Wool And The Gang not only offer result in a glorious new accessory or decoration but also double as a guaranteed bonus fun time. 


              Pyropet Candles

              Chesnuts may traditionally roast by an open fire, but isn't it about time that they got a bit toasty next to a melting animal about to reveal it's metallic bones? Ok, that was a bit of a long shot but these badass Pyropet candles really do make a great gift. Choose from a cat, deer or bird, available in a variety of delightful colours and currently on sale. 


              Assorted Bric-A-Brac

              Let's be honest, almost everybody could do with another mug or notebook, which BTW are bound with vintage archive fabric. Luckily for your chosen receiver of gifts, both of these are on sale so grab em whilst stocks last. 


              Gift Cards

              When you still can't decide on the perfect gift for your friend, partner or family member, usually it's best just to leave it down to them. Our e-gift cards are always available and will be emailed over which means you could literally leave it until Christmas Eve, although we really don't recommend being silly enough to do that. 

              If any of our suggestions aren't really your thing, check out the rest of our website and discover a whole world of vintage delights. We can guarantee that there's something for everyone, even the Scrooge in your life. 

              ✨ Order your Christmas gifts by Weds 20th for standard delivery or Fri 22nd before 2 pm for next day delivery ✨

              Staff Xmas Wishlist: Jessica

              Staff Xmas Wishlist: Jessica

              In the run-up to Christmas day, we are asking our beloved Beyond Retro staff members what they're getting up to over the festive period. It's our second busiest time of year so of course, everybody is loving being pestered right now, although the majority of us are in high spirits and are waiting in excitement for Santa's arrival.

              First up on the nice list is Jessica Hayman, one of our lovely sales assistants working in our flagship Cheshire Street sore near Brick Lane. 

              Hi Jess! What have you asked Santa for this year?

              Santa isn't real babe.

              Yes, he is. What would you like anyway?

              An industrial sewing machine, lots of clothes and make-up.

              What are the best and worst gifts you've ever received?

              The worst was a broken iPhone and the best was my dog.

              If you had limitless bags of cash, what would you buy your best friend this Christmas?

              Lots of designer clothes and trainers.

              Fingers crossed you win the lottery then. What about your Mum?

              A car that actually works and a holiday.

              What is your Christmas party outfit or festive jumper looking like this year?

              It's a Louis Theroux jumper that says "Dashing Theroux The Snow".

              What do you get up to outside of Beyond Retro?

              Seeing family, visiting exhibitions and going for drinks with friends. 

              Fab! Thanks, Jess. 

              Gift Ideas For Everyone From Beyond Retro

              Gift Ideas For Everyone From Beyond Retro

              Tis the Season to be jolly! And even if you have totally gotten brain freeze over what to buy your friends and family this Christmas, here at Beyond Retro you're likely to find the best gift for anyone. What's better is that there will be minimal environmental damage too due to the recyclable nature of our business, so you can care for the world around you whilst doing the same for your loved ones. 


              FOR HIM

              The more dapper gentleman would appreciate a sophisticated bow tie or a fetching pair of braces however a Nordic style jumper is always welcome in these chilly Winter months.


              Everybody needs a backpack, especially the busier city types that like to carry around their worldly possessions on their back like an actively stylish snail. The weather outside is truly frightful so a glorious beanie wouldn't go amiss either!


              Sportswear is unarguably the comfiest wardrobe decision you'll ever make, even if you aren't planning on doing any exercise. Grab your loved one a handful of athleisure goodies and they'll be entirely grateful lounging comfortably during the post-dinner slump. 


              Keep the working professional in your life fully stocked up on vintage ties and maybe they'll stop wearing that same one with the stain every day. We aren't promising anything though. 


              FOR HER

              Berets are pretty much the hat of the Season, buy one for the lovely lady in your life and we're sure she'll love it. Pair with a cute LABEL camera bag or re-purposed notebook and you'll find yourself with a win-win stocking filler. 


              Help your friend prepare for the New Years festivities with a statement sparkly top. Bundled together with some embroidered patches and some statement earrings, guaranteed to make you the best mate ever. 


              Mix and match from our silk scarves and vintage bags and stumble across the cutest combo to suit your friend's style. Everything is one of a kind... So add them to your basket ASAP!


              Health may be the real wealth as opposed to pieces of gold and silver but nobody can say no to metallic accessories, especially when they look this good. Shop hats and jewellery online now. 

              Unsure about what clothes they like? Opt for a Pyro Pet candle, as the wax melts away the flame reveals the skeleton inside. It's both spooky and adorable. 

              FOR EVERYONE 

              Nothing says you care like a Christmas woolly hat. Not only are you but you're literally protecting them from the cold too. Bag yourself a hilariously wearable roast turkey dinner hat or the slightly sweeter candy cane variety. 

              Want to rummage around for your own gift? Shop the lot at