A cardigan makes a fabulous layering piece. Ask me how I know? Well, it’s because I have a closet full of them. I’ve gathered them up over the many years I worked in the retail industry. They are a staple I won’t live without, and this year’s version/style is over-sized and roomy . You may have seen your grandfather wear a similar one if you are were born in the early 1960’s like myself. I remember both my grandfathers owning and dawning this look over a plaid shirt. Hence the name the “Grandpa Cardigan” came to be this fall/winter season.
And like so many things in life, I was curious about the origin of this particular cardigan knit and decided to see where it came from and who wore it first.
These knits were named after James Brudenell, who was the 7th Earl of Cardigan and a Major General in the British army. He helped lead the Charge of the Light Brigade of the battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. The design was supposedly patterned off a wool waist coat that officers wore during this time. The popularity of the Earl of Cardigan rose after the war, so did this particular piece of clothing. Women started wearing them in the 1880’s, and by the 1890’s, they were part of a man’s or woman’s wardrobe. It happened that men first wore the style, but women popularized it. I’m not surprised! Coco Chanel was given credit for resurrecting the cardigan, because she didn’t care for the way a crew neck sweater would mess up hair as she slipped them over her head. The button-up front does make life a bit less complicated, and I’m definitely all for that.
So there is your history lesson for the cardigan.
For me after the first of the year I’m ready to move on to lighter shades such as these I’m wearing today. When I was working, this would be the time we would get Cruise wear into the store for the snow birds that were ready to flee the cold to warmer climates. We also would get in what we called “transition” which would be a neural palette (like this) that could be mixed with winter or spring clothing. There would be pieces to help you transition to the next season while still allowing you to bounce between winter and spring. Here in Atlanta we have shifty weather, so we have to be on our toes, because one day we could have snow, and the next day it could be in the 60’s. I don’t pack up my winter wear until late April, early May.
This classic knit cardigan will stand the test of time, is sustainable and can be worn for years to come. So for now I’ll keep all my cardigans on-call and ready to wear as we move through the new year.