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Fashion Silhouettes
The Shape of Things to Come

Fashion Silhouettes
  • The words of Wellington, collected from ... (by )
  • The War. From the Death of Lord Raglan t... (by )
  • The Invasion of the Crimea : Its Origin,... (by )
  • A review of the Crimean War to the winte... (by )
  • The Trial of James Thomas Earl of Cardig... (by )
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Most people don’t associate fashion with the military, but several clothing silhouettes have roots in military history. The raglan sleeve is named after Lord Raglan, the first Baron Raglan, who lost his arm in battle. The sleeve extends in one piece to the collar, leaving a diagonal seam from underarm to collarbone. Lord Raglan’s tailor created it to facilitate easier dressing and allow ample room for the baron to use his sword. In recent years, modern fashion houses Chanel and Miu Miu have shown variations of this sleeve. For more on Lord Raglan’s legacy, read The War: From the Death of Lord Raglan to the Evacuation of Crimea and The Invasion of the Crimea: Its Origin, And an Account of Its Progress Down to the Death of Lord Raglan

Most people know what a cardigan is, but probably aren’t aware of its military association. This V-neck, knitted vest or sweater buttons up the front and can be worn open or closed. It can also be worn as a jacket. The cardigan was named after James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who was a British Army Major General. He popularized the style when he donned a waist-length, close-fitting, collarless knit jacket when he led the doomed Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. For more on the 7th Earl of Cardigan, read The Trial of James Thomas Earl of Cardigan Before the Right Honourable The House of Peers, in Full Parliament for Felony, on Tuesday the 16th of February 1841. Designers Anna Sui and Todd Snyder recently presented cardigans in their runway collections. 

Another fashion with military roots is the “Wellington,” which offers a fashionable yet practical footwear solution on rainy days. These knee-length, waterproof boots are made of plastic or rubber. Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington introduced and popularized “wellies” when he asked his shoemaker to create a more suitable boot style for soldiers who began wearing new lightweight trousers in tropical climates. The new boot would replace the leather Hessian riding boots traditionally worn with wool breeches. The new boot was crafted from soft calfskin leather and was cut lower on the calf. Many stylish men of the 1800s wore this style. For more on Wellesley, read The Words of Wellington: Collected from His Despatches, Letters, and Speeches, With Anecdotes, Etc. 

The cuddly Paddington Bear and Mr. McGregor, a character in Peter Rabbit by the McLoughlin Brothers, also wear wellies. Fashion icons Kate Middleton and Kate Moss have also both been spotted donning this style.

By Regina Molaro

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