06 March 2014

The Sartorial Legacy of the Crimean War

Lord Cardigan
Note the impressive facial hair
With the Crimea in the news these days, I thought it an opportune time to consider the sartorial influences of the Crimean War (1853-1856) upon the British people, and, indeed, the world. War, as we can see, so often leads to sartorial invention.

(1) Cardigan sweater - The cardigan is named after James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan who led British cavalry in the Charge of the Light Brigade against Russian troops at the Battle of Balaclava (25 Oct 1854). The sweater was based on waistcoats worn by British infantry and quickly became popular when introduced in London. Today the cardigan is favoured by preppies, hipsters, and grandfathers.

(2) Balaclava cap - A knitted head-covering first worn by British troops stationed in the Crimea to combat the severe winter cold. It is named after the Crimean town of Balaklava. Today the balaclava is worn by special forces, winter sports enthusiasts, and terrorists. Also known as the Uhlan cap, or bandit hat.

(3) Raglan overcoat - A type of winter coat developed in 1854 to commemorate the promotion of FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan to the rank of Field Marshal following his victory at the Battle of Inkerman (5 Nov 1854). The raglan overcoat today remains a garment noted for its fine drape and loose sleeves.

For a unique eyewitness account of the events surrounding Lord Cardigan, the Charge of the Light Brigade, and the Crimean War in general, I can recommend the following key texts: Flashman (1969) and Flashman at the Charge (1973), both by Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE (1822-1915).


Anonymous said...

Cardigan. I'll never forgive that he tried to make a cuckold of Sir Harry.

Anonymous said...

Hurrah Harry!

Anonymous said...

@LBF - This is off-topic, but what's your take on tattoos? Now I'm not talking about Japanese koi-sleeves or art nouveau owls on anorectic 17-year olds. Would you support it at all, and if so, in what manner?

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Anon @11:33 ~ I'll respond to your query in post form, if you don't mind.

Tabitha said...

Anon - we really do need a Q &A answer forum for the Codmeister.