What is a Cardigan?
Many people know what a cardigan is, and many have at least one in their closets. In case you did not know, a cardigan is a type of sweater worn casually by both men and women. This sweater usually has long sleeves and buttons or zips down the center. It is usually a knitted item and is worn like a jacket. The buttons or zipper is what distinguishes it from a regular sweater.
There are many places where you can buy a cardigan today. A simple search of the internet brings up many places. One way to get these comfortable sweaters is to Shop The Mint and find the exact one, or ones, that you want. This is an online store that allows you to look at the different cardigans and choose from a variety of styles.
The History Behind the Cardigan
Although many people have heard of the cardigan, many have not heard the history behind the comfortable clothing items. It is an interesting history that needs to be shared to all who are interested. Interestingly enough the history begins with the military. Continue reading for more of the interesting history of the cardigan.
The First Cardigan
The very first cardigan can be attributed to the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, James Brudenell. He was born in 1824 and experienced a kick in the head from a horse when he was young. Because of this, his family never expected much from him, and he often lived up to the expectations. He gave up or fell behind on every endeavor he started.
After a while, Brudenell paid for an officership in a regiment of Hussars in the King’s army. He wanted to improve his regiment, and he did so by investing in clothing for them. He used his own money to change the look of his charges. He spent money that would be equivalent to over a million dollars to do this.
It was the Battle of Balaclava that Brudenell was first known to wear what we now know as the cardigan. This was an ill-fated battle that saw Brudenell charge all the way to the Russian lines without any trouble. He then decided to turn back, and many of his men were injured in the retreat. When he returned to England, the people were amazed over the cardigan he was wearing.
To begin with, the cardigan was just a knitted waistcoat that was worn by men. It was really just a jacket in disguise, but it became very popular in London. When the Londoners then heard about his retreat in the battle, Brudenell and his cardigan began to lose popularity.
Industrialization helped with the popularity of the cardigan. In the beginning, people had to knit these garments by hand, but after a while, through industrialization, they could be made in bulk. It still looked more like a sweater coat but was highly popular in England. Although it still looked more like a sweater coat, it was beginning to look more like the cardigan we know today. It was still mainly worn as a men’s garment and had not yet been as popular for women. You can find more history on the cardigan here. It has such an interesting history that is very fun to learn about.
Sometimes, in some of the incarnations of the cardigan, velvet accents and rolled collars were added. As it became more popular, it became shorter through the years, as it also slimmed down. Men everywhere began to wear the cardigan, but eventually women decided they also liked the style.
It was in the 1920’s that women finally began to take notice as women decided that they wanted more loose-fitting clothing. They also started to style their clothing more after the men’s clothing at this time. At about that same period of time, Coco Chanel began to take notice of the changing styles.
At this time, cardigans were still the heavy sweater coats as they had originated. It was heavy and long and was marketed more to the men who were beginning to drive the fancy cars. When Chanel took notice of that, she designed a softer jersey that was more fashionable than functional. It also started looking more like the cardigans that we know of today.
Chanel also noted that the gender roles had become more blended, and the women’s version of the cardigan were designed. The cardigans became more over-sized, slouchier, and comfortable to wear and were found in college bookstores. Some men’s stores still carried the heavier version of the cardigan, but Chanel’s was becoming much more popular.
In the 1940’s the cardigan became a little more risqué thanks to big buxom women began to wear the cardigan with the buttons undone to show a little cleavage. The norms of the times allowed this as permissible because everything was covered by the sweater. This allowed the once popular men’s sweater to firmly move to the women’s side.
Modern Era Cardigans
After the second World War, the men’s version became less rough and tough and became more liked by the intellectual men. They would come home from a hard day’s work and slip on a more comfortable cardigan. At this time, the cardigan became softer for the men as well as the women. The men felt that it was much more comfortable to the sports coats they had worn before.
Tough guys from the movies began to wear the cardigans to give them a more laid-back look and feel. The cardigan took the edge off their rough and tough personalities. And then Mr. Rogers showed that the average man could wear the cardigan and look more inviting. Mr. Rogers probably did more for the iconic look of the cardigan than anyone else.
The military inspired cardigan that was originally designed to show just how tough the military men were, soon became the soft, wearable, comfortable sweater that we know today. With the help of Coco Chanel and other women, the cardigan became something that both men and women find so stylish today.