The Clothes Show

Posted 23 Aug, 2013

Who'd have guessed a connection between the Charge of the Light Brigade and that ubiquitous garment, the cardigan? The general who led the British forces was James Brudenell, the seventh Earl of Cardigan, and he was known to sport a knitted woollen waistcoat upon which the cardigan was fashioned. Another example of eponymous attire with army origins is the wellington boot, popularised by Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington.

Jules Léotard, after whom the one-piece garment was named, was a French acrobatic performer who developed the art of trapeze, and inspired the song The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. Amelia Jenks Bloomer, a 19th-century American activist and feminist, considered the long full skirts worn by Victorian women to be cumbersome. Instead, underneath a skirt cut rather short for those times, she wore long baggy trousers to preserve decency, which came to be known as bloomers.

World War II Allied soldiers called their inflatable life jackets Mae West in honour of the actress' famously buxom figure. The soft felt hat known as the trilby was named after George du Maurier's novel of 1894; in the popular stage version of the novel, a hat of this type was worn by one of the characters. A canvas shoe designed for beachwear in the 19th century was nicknamed the plimsoll because the coloured horizontal band joining the upper to the sole resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull. If water rose above the line on the rubber sole, the wearer would get wet.

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