The place Did The Cardigan Sweater Get Its Title?
The knitwear world is crammed with completely different kinds, from chunky outsized pullovers to smooth stretchy turtlenecks. Whereas the origin of phrases like “turtleneck” and “pullover” appear comparatively self-evident, there’s one other well-known sweater selection with a much less easy identify historical past: the cardigan.
An ideal staple for transitional climate, the time period cardigan typically refers to a knitted sweater with an open entrance that may be buttoned up, which permits for it to be worn like a jacket over nearly any outfit. Iterations of this garment have been round for hundreds of years, however the identify cardigan seems thus far again to the mid-Nineteenth century. And it’s all because of a nobleman with the title of the Earl of Cardigan.
To discover the origins of the phrase cardigan and this sweater’s connection to English the Aristocracy, HuffPost spoke to a few trend historians about this basic piece of knitwear and its legacy in our instances.
The Origin Of The Title
“The accepted lore and historical past of the identify ‘cardigan’ is that it comes from the Earl of Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell, in the course of the Crimean Warfare the place his Mild Brigade was wearing a close-fitting, knitted jacket,” trend historian Abby Cox instructed HuffPost.
Certainly, the seventh Earl of Cardigan, aka Lord Cardigan, lived from 1797 to 1868 and was an officer within the British Military in the course of the Crimean Warfare of the 1850s. He led the well-known Cost of the Mild Brigade towards Russian forces in the course of the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.
In historian Robert Powyszynski Sr.’s e-book “The Cost of the Mild Brigade,” he states that Lord Cardigan was “an conceited and cantankerous individual” who possessed a sartorial aptitude and spent massive sums of cash on new uniforms and tools for his regiment.
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James Thomas Brudenell, seventh Earl of Cardigan, lived from 1797 to 1868 and is legendary for main the Cost of the Mild Brigade in the course of the Crimean Warfare.
“Throughout that point he turned notorious for residing on a yacht harbored on the city of Balaclava and venturing onto shore to hunt the corporate of native ladies,” mentioned Keren Ben-Horin, a trend historian, curator and co-author of “The Sweater: A Historical past.”
Lord Cardigan was reportedly given a hero’s welcome upon his return to England after the Cost of the Mild Brigade, and a few say this second of fame put his signature waistcoat or jacket model on the map. (Later accounts of the battle prompt that he really retreated in the course of the assault, which forged doubt on his supposed heroism.)
“It’s attainable that he and different troopers wore a kind of woolen coat, but when the earl wore an precise knitted cardigan, it was extra seemingly later in his life when he retired to the English countryside,” Ben-Horin mentioned.
Whether or not or not knitted waistcoats or jackets have been worn by Lord Cardigan or his regiment in the course of the Crimean Warfare, any such garment got here to be related to the nobleman and thus often known as a cardigan. So simply because the sandwich was named for the Earl of Sandwich, the Earl of Cardigan was the man behind this piece of sweater taxonomy.
“Nevertheless, knitted jackets for males, ladies and kids have been round for hundreds of years, simply with completely different names,” Cox mentioned, sharing an instance from the Los Angeles County Museum of Artwork’s assortment dated between 1580 and 1610. “So whereas the identify ‘cardigan’ would possibly date again to the 1850s, the idea of the cardigan ― a knitted, long-sleeved, open-fronted garment ― has been round for hundreds of years.”
Nonetheless, Cox famous that the earliest point out of the time period cardigan on this context that she might discover comes from a January 1862 version of Godey’s Woman’s Ebook, which acknowledged:
“‘The Cardigan Jacket,’ a novelty of the season, could also be described as a really elastic ribbed worsted shirt, in excessive colours. It’s supposed to serve the aim of a girl’s sacque, ‘a wrap up,’ to be worn underneath a coat for heat.”
“Whereas this snippet doesn’t clarify the etymology of the time period ‘cardigan,’ the date of publication does lend itself to the Earl of Cardigan and the Crimean Warfare,” Cox mentioned.
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From British the Aristocracy to British pop idols: Harry Kinds sported a whimsical cardigan at a Spotify album launch occasion in Could 2022.
“Knitting at residence grew in recognition in the course of the 1800s via the 1900s, and I believe that, along with technological development that allowed for extra ready-made knitwear, it is smart that knitted clothes like cardigans would develop in recognition,” Cox mentioned.
As evidenced by the advertisements for “cardigan jackets” that date again to the 1860s, this text of clothes rapidly appeared in retailers and catalogs in England and past. References recommend that these early cardigans might have been sleeveless, however that modified over time.
And though the time period cardigan proved to have actual endurance, there have been different names for this model as properly.
“One nice instance is the Columbia Ebook of Yarns from 1908 ― it has a number of completely different knitted jacket choices for males, ladies, and kids with names like ‘Golf Jacket,’ ‘Bryn Mawr Jacket,’ and ‘Norfolk Jacket,’” Cox mentioned. “All of them look completely different, however all of them match the essential definition of a cardigan ― knitted, lengthy sleeve, and open-front garment that’s secured with buttons.”
There are a lot of the explanation why the cardigan would thrive within the age of commercial manufacturing, Ben-Horin famous.
“First, the knitting body had an nearly good design and required little or no enchancment from its invention in 1589 via the early Twentieth century, making the manufacturing of socks, underwear and sweaters the earliest instance of mechanized manufacturing,” she defined. “Second, as a result of sweaters are created by looping just one steady yarn, they’ve the flexibility to stretch and modify to completely different physique shapes, not like tailor-made, woven clothes that require particular person changes to suit properly, making the sweater an excellent garment for the rise of commercial, mass manufacturing.”
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Princess Diana’s iconic model featured many cozy cardigans to maintain her heat within the dreary British climate. The sweater’s affiliation with Britain impressed the Swedish rock band The Cardigans’ identify, as its members have been self-proclaimed Britophiles.
She additionally famous that ladies’s clothes began to chill out on the finish of the Nineteenth century, as many within the center class began to take part in sports activities, attend school and in any other case interact in a extra dynamic way of life.
“What higher garment than a stretchy, sensible sweater to satisfy the brand new calls for of contemporary life?” Ben-Horin mentioned.
Some credit score Coco Chanel with popularizing cardigans for girls as lots of her iconic sweaters featured a button entrance.
“Whereas Chanel is understood for her knitwear and her fondness of British nation life, the place males have been carrying cardigans for a number of a long time if not centuries, she was responding to a pattern quite than creating it,” Ben-Horin mentioned.
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Tennis participant Suzanne Lenglen (proper) labored with designer Jean Patou and sported many stylish cardigans on and off the court docket.
She pointed to the affect of different early Twentieth-century designers like Elsa Schiaparelli and Jean Patou, who famously dressed tennis star Suzanne Lenglen in stylish sweater outfits that allowed for ease of motion.
“By that time, cardigans have been already broadly worn in American schools, the English countryside, and naturally in Nordic international locations the place knitting has a protracted historical past,” Ben-Horin added. “Within the early Nineteen Twenties, even the mail order catalog of Sears, Roebuck and Co. offered modern cardigans ranging in value from $4.50 to $10.75. Within the early Twentieth century, sweaters and cardigans turned an vital dressing class akin to athleisure in the present day. They have been related to class and athleticism and have been seen as quintessentially trendy.”
Cardigans Right this moment
“For many Individuals of a sure age, the phrase ‘cardigan’ instantaneously evokes Mister Rogers ― a heat, fatherly determine,” Ben-Horin mentioned. “Like most different items of clothes, the that means of a cardigan modifications primarily based on who wore it, when and the place, however maybe one affiliation prevails: There’s one thing intimate a couple of cardigan, the way it envelopes the physique and supplies heat.”
She recalled Kurt Cobain’s well-known inexperienced cardigan that he wore throughout Nirvana’s 1993 look on “MTV Unplugged” (which offered at public sale for a whopping $334,000 in 2019).
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The inexperienced cardigan that Kurt Cobain wore throughout Nirvana’s look on “MTV Unplugged” in 1993 has change into an iconic piece of music historical past.
“Why did this look on that present change into so iconic?” Ben-Horin requested. “There was one thing susceptible, intimate, a couple of grunge celebrity that not solely unplugs his guitar but in addition seems in a humble cardigan that appears prefer it was borrowed from his mom.”
Different iconic popular culture cardigans embody receptionist Pam Beesly’s signature look on the U.S. model of “The Workplace,” Sandy and Danny’s respective knitwear moments in “Grease,” and The Dude’s sweater in “The Huge Lebowski.” First Woman Michelle Obama was additionally identified to sport her fair proportion of cardigans all through her time within the White Home, notably carrying one to satisfy Queen Elizabeth in 2009.
When Taylor Swift launched her 2020 album “Folklore,” the lead single was “Cardigan,” which featured the lyrics:
And once I felt like I used to be an outdated cardigan / Below somebody’s mattress / You place me on and mentioned I used to be your favourite
Accompanying the discharge of the album and single was a particular new piece of merch: a cream-colored cable knit cardigan just like the one Swift wears within the music video for the music. Cox believes “Cardigan” properly captures the essence of the garment.
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First girl Michelle Obama wore many cardigans all through her time within the White Home, beginning with this mustard yellow quantity in the course of the inauguration festivities in 2009.
“There’s something comforting, acquainted and protected concerning the cardigan, evoking nostalgia for a sure time like autumn, crunchy leaves, apple cider and the scent of firewood within the air, or emotions for a beloved member of the family,” she mentioned. ”In the course of the holidays, my mom wears a Christmas cardigan that was worn by my grandmother as a form of honor to her reminiscence. By wrapping ourselves in a cardigan we will blanket ourselves in valuable reminiscences and feelings, instilling this sense of security and safety.”
Evidently, it is smart that we regularly confer with sure kinds as “grandfather cardigans” or “grandpa cardigans.” Cox mentioned she additionally enjoys the TikTok discourse across the feminine gaze and the concept that males in cardigans epitomize intercourse enchantment for girls. Nevertheless you are feeling about carrying or seeing cardigans in your on a regular basis life, it’s fairly clear this text of clothes is right here to remain ― and has been for a while.
“I believe the cardigan is a superb instance of how some features of trend don’t actually change all that a lot over time,” Cox mentioned. “There are cardigans on the market in the present day at Goal that will be acquainted to our great-great grandparents, which is fairly neat when you consider it.”