Where Cardigan Styles for Ladies Came From

Posted on September 11 2019

comfy cardigan
And our favorite ways to wear them.

Cardigans are a staple of most people’s wardrobe, but you probably never even thought about how these garments came to be an undying fashion trend. The thought of chilly autumn days and wrapping oneself in a soft, comfy cardigan by a campfire just feels right. Read our favorite details about where this timeless piece of women’s fashion came from.

Half a League Onward! The Cardigan in the Crimea

The history of the cardigan brings us back to the mid-1800s. The British Army Major General, the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, led the Charge of the Light Brigade against the Russians in 1854. He had his troops wear a long-sleeved knitted waistcoat (later known as a cardigan) under their uniforms for extra warmth in the harsh weather conditions. A sweater worn out of necessity has become a timeless trend. During the remainder of the 1800s, cardigans were mainly worn by sailors and other working-class people who needed to stay warm, but still, be able to move fluidly in their tasks. The first cardigans were hand-knit from natural wool, which lent to its ability to keep the working-class warm. In these early days, sleeveless versions of cardigans were also popular. Near the turn of the century, cardigans had become a part of the wardrobe for both men and women. Though quite different from our modern designs, cardigan styles for ladies followed the trends of the time with puffy sleeves, buttons up to the neck, and cinched waists and cuffs.

From Coco Chanel to Mister Rogers

In the early 1900s, women wore their first sportswear cardigans, playing golf and on the tennis courts. But, in the 1920s, Coco Chanel, the French fashion designer, designed the two-piece set that began the fashion trend of the cardigan style for ladies to be worn every day. It was said that "she hated how tight-necked men's sweaters messed up her hair when she pulled them over her head." Newly advanced knitting machines at the turn of the century helped make cardigans easier to produce and more accessible for department stores to carry.

The Great Depression of the 1930s and war rationing of the 1940s brought creativity to its finest. The war demanded limited quantities and sizes of clothing. So, college girls became very resourceful wearing their trendy oversized sweaters and cardigans. Many women of this time learned knitting skills to produce socks and other garments for the men in service and used the skills they learned to make trendy cardigan styles for ladies.

In the 1950s, oversized cardigans soon downsized into form-fitting Laverne and Shirley cardigan styles for ladies, embellished with personalized monograms. But, in the 1960s to the 1970s, Mr. Roger’s simple, but classic zippered cardigan brought a new meaning to cozy.

Fast forward and cardigan styles for ladies of the past are still stylish today.

cardigan styles for ladies

Timeless… Classic... Stylish…

Cardigans are perfect for nearly every occasion. They are still perfect to wear during sporting events, whether you are the one playing the sport or the fan on the sidelines watching the action. And, no matter who your favorite team is, you are sure to be able to find a cardigan for sale that sports the team colors and logo.

Cardigans are soft and comfy, and a go-to for lounging around the house, relaxing in your backyard, or picnics on a breezy day. Everyday activities like lunch out with friends, a weekend road trip, or an autumn hike in the woods are a perfect fit for a lightweight cardigan to wrap around you. A layered outfit will keep the goosebumps away on chilly days.

Cardigan styles for ladies

Cardigans Add Coziness to Any Outfit

Cardigan styles for ladies pair well with sports and leisure, but they can also be a bit fancier for situations like a wedding, a job interview, or even a funeral. Layer your cardigan with a nice dress, a blouse with a skirt or dress pants, add some jewelry and accessories, and you’re ready for a special occasion. Attending a work conference or dinner at a restaurant where you suspect they keep the air conditioning cranked up? A cardigan is an excellent way to look professional and keep yourself at a warm and comfortable temperature.

At A Corner Cottage, we love our comfy cardigan styles for ladies and know you will too! Browse our long and cozy cardigans, lightweight open cardigans, button-up, and pocketed cardigans.


Coco quote: Geller, Allison (24 June 2016). "The Military Origins of the Cardigan." The Atlantic. Retrieved 24 June 2016.

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