The accepted story of the cardigan sweater begins as far back as the mid 1800’s during the Crimean War. James Thomas Brudenell was the 7th Earl of Cardigan - and he’s who the sweater was named after. This British military commander served in this war and thus began the wearing of the cardigan sweater in popular culture.
But the cardigan sweater became very popular in the 17th century with the French and in the British Isles with the fisherman of the times. These sweaters proved to be invaluable on the cold seas.
Once fashioned with harder materials like wool, this one piece sweater generally has buttons or other fastening pieces in the front. These buttons will help to close the front of the sweater either from the bottom to the top or perhaps only to the middle of the torso, depending on the style and the cut. Some cardigans will also have zippers instead of buttons that can help to secure the sweater in the front.