The Great Debate Is Officially Over: Sweaters vs. Jumpers

It’s a conflict as old as time. Chicken vs. egg, Britain vs. America, caramel vs. caramel, sweater vs. jumper. Have you ever tried to shop at a UK based website and searched aimlessly for their knitwear or sweater sections? Many UK websites have so-called “jumper sections” where brand marketers decided to hide their selection of sweaters. What is this so-called “jumper” and why isn’t it just called sweaters? With holiday parties and winter festivities calling for high demand of Christmas sweaters, Zmags embarked on a journey to discern between jumpers and sweaters.



Zmags Office – Boston, MA 11/29 

I hit the streets of the internet to find out the difference. Highly referable Wikipedia states, “In British English, the term jumper describes what is called a sweater in American English. Also, in more formal British usage, a distinction is made between a pinafore dress and a pinafore. The latter, though a related garment, has an open back and is worn as an apron. In American English, pinafore always refers to an apron.”

A Sweater



A so-called “Jumper”



So, somehow, we made our way from a sweater to an apron. There is apparently something called a “pinafore” which encompasses a pinafore dress and a jumper? Confused and pressed for time, I needed to discover the answer. Getting back on track, I took to the Zmags offices to end the great debate.

A pinafore (the preferred term should be an “overall dress”)


Boston-based Sales Development Rep Eddie, reported he has “no idea what a jumper is” and that he has to “google it.” Eddie came back to my desk to describe his findings: “sweaters are more comfortable than a jumper, a jumper is a one piece,” he said confidently.

He continued to go on about how sweaters are easier to take on and off. After a few minutes of him discussing how he could elevate the utility of a jumper for optimal bathroom use, it became clear he was mistaking a jumper for some sort of onesie-jumpsuit.

Eddie’s sense of high-fashion


Overhearing the conversation, one of our new SDRs Bryce decided to weigh in, “one sweats, and one jumps” he said as he wore a khaki colored button down with graphics of wolves surveying a winter forest. I shook my head. I was getting nowhere. I needed someone more in-tuned to the fashion world.

I turned to a Boston Senior Account Executive, Edek, who seemed to think that this debate was not the one we should be concerned about. We should be asking about what happened to “romphims?” He made a good point. What did happen to this game-changing article clothing? But that was a blog investigation for another time.

The Iconic Romphim


Edek, sporting Hulk Hogan-inspired facial hair, went on to proclaim he was pro-sweater, “sweaters all day…the uglier the better. But I’m talking real vintage ugly. Not intentional. Picture the Derek Zoolander Derelicte collection sweater.”


For a visual aid behind the Zoolander fashion line:

We were getting warmer to finding an answer. The Zmags Boston office was in favor of sweaters and seemed to believe jumpers were a made-up term. So, I decided to go directly to the origin of this so-called “jumper”: London.


Zmags Office – London(ish) 11/29

Due to a lack of resources, I could not travel to the London office. So, I hopped on Slack to discuss with UK-based Account Executive, Abbie Linsey. As an avid jumper wear-er, Linsey favors the garment because “they have that classic old lady knitted vibe to them which is traditionally where the Christmas jumpers are from. Sweaters are too ‘cool’. A Christmas jumper has to be a hideous affair.”

Deductive reasoning seems to place sweaters as a copy of jumpers. Could it be that “sweater” was not the right term? Or even worse, it was a knock-off jumper? Is this debate as catastrophic as the U.S not using the metric system?


Urgently, I contacted James Hawkins, Zmags’ UK Account Executive and fashion extraordinaire. With style that may rival Edek’s, Hawkins descriptively identified that a jumper is a “long-sleeved, knitted garment often made by one’s Grandma, featuring a loud pattern. Worn at all times of the year in the UK as a nice extra layer. Should not, however, be worn without a cagoule/anorak as may get soggy due to regular rainfall.”

With a solid definition established for this mysterious UK knitwear, Hawkins went on to smear sweaters as “a silly name for a jumper.”

Taken aback, this could not be true. I jumped to the internet to find the source as to why jumpers are called such. Countless forums were searching for answers as well.

Online dictionaries reported that the origin of jumper had nothing to do with the physical act of jumping. In fact, it stems from the dialect jump or jup, meaning a man’s short coat or a woman’s under-bodice or tunic. This may derive in turn from the French juppe, a petticoat.


So, What’s the Difference?

Reference.com was able to surface information on the history of this garment. And the decision became clear:

In the 1800s, artists and workmen often wore a large thick shirt called a “jump” which would be called a smock in today’s terms. It later became “jumper” when referring to any knitted or crocheted top in England, or “sweater” in the United States when it became regular winter wear for outdoor types, especially those playing sports. Their activity would cause them to sweat, hence the term “sweater.”

After in-depth research and analysis, I have concluded that a jumper is the OG of knitwear. Jumpers uphold a homely look to keep you cozy with familial warmth while sweaters are the new age style. I have to admit it. It is taking a lot to swallow my pride and say the London team won this battle. And shockingly, our newest SDR, Bryce, was the closest one to understanding the origins and difference between a sweater and a jumper. With the debate closed and one of the greatest mysteries of the world solved, Zmags was restored and peace rang throughout the offices.


From our Zmags family to yours, happy holidays everyone.