The cardigan was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British Army Major General who led the Charge of the Light Brigadeat the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. It is modelled after the knitted wool waistcoat that British officers supposedly wore during the war.
Commonly cardigans have buttons: a garment that is tied is instead considered a robe. A more modern version of the garment has no buttons and hangs open by design.Traditionally, cardigans were made of wool but can now be made of cotton, synthetic fibers, or any combination thereof.
Plain cardigans are often worn over shirts and inside suit jackets as a less formal version of the waistcoat or vest that restrains the necktie when the jacket has been removed. Its versatility means it can be worn in casual or formal settings and in any season, but it is most popular during cool weather.
Monochromatic cardigans, in sleeved or vest form, may be viewed as a conservative fashion staple. As an item of formal clothing for any gender, it is worn over a button-down dress shirt. A less formal style is wearing a T-shirt underneath.
Just remember to button up your shirts and choose crew-neck T-shirts, as anything too open may appear awkward. Also, keep in mind that outfits tend to look best when the shirt is a lighter colour than the cardigan.
So how to wear a cardigan now?
A too-tight cardigan can make you look bulky and uncomfortable. For a good masculine fit, look for cardigans that are slightly roomy in the shoulders. The shoulder seams should stop on top of your shoulders.
The cardigan should be long enough to cover your belt, but it shouldn’t be so long that it covers your pants pockets.
A cardigan with a good fit should taper directly under your rib cage, then widen back out at the hips. For a looser fit, try an oversized cardigan with a shawl collar.
In cold weather, a formal or business-casual look can be created by wearing a cardigan under a sports jacket and donning a pair of dress slacks. Get a similar business-casual vibe by wearing it over a dress shirt and necktie.
Avoid wearing zipped cardigans under dressy blazers or with good slacks. These work best as casual outer layers.
Some tiny details can drastically change the appearance of a cardigan. For example, buttons that are large and round have a distinctly feminine vibe. Look for cardigans with modest buttons, wooden toggles or, to get a casual look, zippers. Be aware that plastic buttons are commonly found on cardigans these days.
A cotton sports cardigan worn open over a crisp t-shirt can look casual yet stylish. It creates a slightly athletic-looking vibe, too. Wear it with jeans or trousers.
A sports cardigan looks best when the rest of the outfit looks sharp. Avoid wearing it with a baggy or wrinkled t-shirt, which can look sloppy.
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