The Griswold Jumper

Since the age of eight, when I was still wearing look-alike Kappa poppa pants from the market, completely unaware of fashion or what I was wearing, my one and only style icon (second only to Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle) has been Ellen Griswold, star of The National Lampoons.

Before I was aware of how to shop for clothes and how to put an outfit together, when I still just wore whatever fell my way, I had a burning desire that every outfit I wore should make me somehow become Ellen Griswold.  I wanted to achieve that classic, elegant eighties chic; billowing cream blouses with long sleeves and pearl buttons, chunky knit jumpers; pink silk and green satin.

Growing up in north-west England in the nineties, I had more chance of meeting Lewis Carroll than actually looking like this, or even finding those clothes in the shops.  Then suddenly, miraculously, something happened.  About two years ago fashion began to shift.  Suddenly, the classic eighties style was coming back.  Starting slowly, naturally with Topshop, the cream blouses, waistcoats and satin were coming back.  Now it became possible to buy those clothes that I had longingly aspired to since my mum bought my clothes from Runcorn market.

Here are a few of the items which helped me on my way to achieving my ultimate, lifetime ambition; for my wardrobe to look like Ellen Griswold’s….

One of my favourite outfits is the green skirt, worn with a cream blouse, for Christmas Eve dinner.  I had dreamed of this outfit for years and years, and then last Christmas H&M had one which was identical.  Shown in the two pictures above, the H&M skirt is the same green, the same texture and has the same sexy, above the knee kick.  I only wear it at Christmas, for very special occasions.

My second favourite item is the black jumper. I couldn’t find a better picture of Ellen wearing hers.  It’s black, snugly fitted, covered in white spots with a row of pretty white hearts.  Again, I had dreamed of this jumper all my life, as my Christmas Jumper Mecca.  I never held much hope of finding an identical match.  Then suddenly, two weeks ago, I wandered into Primark.  I have been boycotting the shop because of its association with sweat shops, and I had promised myself not to buy anything.  I went in with my sister and hanging on a shelf was MY jumper; Ellen’s jumper.  Black, snugly fitted, white spots and a row of white hearts.  £11!

The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (or ‘The Griswolds’ as we call it) is one of my favourite films. It’s hilariously funny, warm, charming and exciting to watch, and it brings my entire family together every Christmas, playing second fiddle only to the Coca Cola advert.  In fact, part of the reason for our love of the Coca Cola advert comes from The Griswold’s.  Our copy (on VHS) for years, before we got the DVD, has been a copy we taped one Christmas day.  Two advantages of this are that any swear words or suggestive comments are cut out for family enjoyment without those awkward moments, and secondly; all of the Christmas adverts are recorded as well, so that we can enjoy the old nineties festivity every year, including the Coca Cola trucks, which have now become everyone’s earliest indicator that the ‘holidays are comin’.

Merry Christmas x

14 Responses to “The Griswold Jumper”

  1. 1 Hayley November 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    This is the loveliest thing I have ever read ♥

  2. 6 Sarah Coles November 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Love it! Late 80s/90s fashion was – no, IS still the best. xx

  3. 7 Christine O December 26, 2010 at 4:44 am

    where did u find that sweater, I was looking for one, I absolutely love it!

  4. 9 Holly Dorris July 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I am looking for this sweater to wear to a Griswold Christmas party…I live in the US. Any suggestions? Do you have the brand or a barcode? I CANNOT find it online anywhere? HELP!!

    • 10 Vikki Littlemore July 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      Hi. This jumper was from Primark, but it was in November, so they won’t be in stock unfortunately. You could try searching Ebay for ‘Primark Jumper’, maybe even ‘Primark snowflake jumper’.

      Alternatively, try a retailer called Pop Boutique. They had similar jumpers over Winter. You could see if they still have them, or drop them an email and ask for the snowflake sweaters from Winter.

      New Look had almost the same thing, so try searching Ebay for ‘New Look Snowflake jumper’.

      Hope I’ve helped a bit.

      Please let me know how you get on, I hope you get what you’re looking for.
      Hope this helps.

      • 11 Emma Dean October 10, 2016 at 4:26 pm

        Hi, I know this was a few years ago, but I need to find this black sweater. Have you seen/heard of any more being sold recently? This post of yours is the only time I’ve seen a real person owning one like Ellen Griswold’s.

        Thank you!

  5. 12 Holly Dorris July 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks! I’ll try them all!

  6. 13 Nicole Richardson August 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Would you ever consider selling the sweater??

  7. 14 Jen January 5, 2018 at 12:59 am

    Ok, so this is random, but I have been obsessed with finding this jumper myself. While you found yours years ago, I FINALLY found my own! However, I did have to buy it used and all of the tags have been cut out. Mine is identical to yours and I’m trying to figure out what it is made of and how to launder it. Any chance you still have yours and/or remember if it was machine washable or dry clean only? Thank you!

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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up ( with your thoughts.

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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Of Mice and Men
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The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
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