Who knew the preppy sweater actually had roots in battle attire? Seriously. The 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell, was supposedly a pretty vain leader who chose to wear a collarless, waist-length, wool jacket to lead his soldiers in the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaclava (remember?).
Lord Cardigan left Russia just a year into the Crimean War because of his health. But back home in England, he enjoyed the already exaggerated stories of his heroism on the battlefield, despite claims to the contrary, including one staff officer who alleged in his memoirs that Cardigan survived the Battle of Balaclava only because he abandon his men, leaving many to die.
That didn't stop merchants exploiting the war from selling Cardigan's arrogant accounts of his valor, complete with photos of him on the battlefield in his favorite knitted waistcoat. The coat soon became not only fashionable but also gained the title "cardigan" in his honor.
Since knitting was also craft that started to take off in the mid-1800s, many families felt it was fitting to send their soldier sons similarly styled sweaters to stay warm at battle sites.
The cardigan has had several makeovers through since Lord Cardigan first sported his on the battlefield. In 1908, Vogue promoted a cardigan-like sweater for women to wear while playing golf and tennis, and in the 1920s, French fashion designer Coco Chanel created her iconic cardigan suit for women [source: Le Zotte].
More Great Links
- Etymonline. "Tuxedo." (Nov. 26, 2018) https://www.etymonline.com/word/tuxedo
- Kelly, John. "14 Articles of Clothing Named After Places." Mentalfloss. March 15, 2017. (Nov. 26, 2018) http://mentalfloss.com/article/93174/14-articles-clothing-named-after-places
- Le Zotte, Jennifer. "When Cardigans Were Battle Attire. Racked. Oct. 3, 2017. (Nov. 26, 2018) https://www.racked.com/2017/10/3/16380180/cardigans-history
- Loveland, Mariel. "How Weird Sportcoats From History Led To The Modern Tuxedo." Ranker. (Nov. 26, 2018) https://www.ranker.com/list/the-history-of-the-tuxedo/mariel-loveland
- Mancini, Mark. Why Do We Call Athletic Uniforms "Jerseys"? Mental Floss. Jan. 31, 2014. (Nov. 26, 2018) http://mentalfloss.com/article/54751/why-do-we-call-athletic-uniforms-jerseys
- Speakfashion. "Fashion History Classics: Who invented the Capri Pants?" (Nov. 26, 2018) http://www.speak-fashion.de/fashion_history/classics/fashion-history-classcis-capri-pants
- Turner, Julia. "A Brief History of the Bikini." Slate. July 3, 2015 (Nov. 26, 2018) https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/07/history-of-the-bikini-how-it-came-to-america.html
- Upton, Emily. "Why Leotards Are Called That." Today I Found Out. Jan. 8, 2014. (Nov. 26, 2018) http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/01/leotards-called/
- Urken, Ross Kenneth. "You thought argyle was a preppy staple? Wrong. It's a statement of rebellion." The Washington Post. March 18, 2015. (Nov. 26, 2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/18/argyle-isnt-the-preppy-staple-you-think-it-is-thats-why-its-the-best/
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