The holiday season is upon us, which means men will be taking out their ski gear, their credit cards, and that Christmas sweater they've worn to holiday parties for the last decade. There is no shame in rocking a cringe-worthy top with sentimental value or buying the ugliest dancing reindeer number you can find just for the hell of it, but it might be wiser to invest in a sweater you'll be able to wear after December 25. Fortunately, designers have your back. The sweater buyer's best friends this year are Jil Sanders and Band of Outsiders.
Both brands used the same trick to evoke the holidays without getting mired in elves, gingerbread, and bells, creating knitwear that embraces the color palette of the holiday season but eschews the motifs. Jil Sander's (admittedly pricey) bright red sweater, which features a graphic "X" over the torso, and her navy, gray, and red dégradé pullover are cheery and geometric enough for both caroling and work. Add jeans and you're good through January.
Other options are more color-blocked than conceptual. Band of Outsiders' Classic Cardigan combines dark green with bits of red and white detailing, which results in a festive but down-to-earth look. For the slightly more holiday-averse, the brand also sells a gray Contrast Crewneck Pullover with just enough detailing at the collar to support your claim that it's seasonal. It's a Christmas sweater because you said so. [$720; jilsander.com]