The Quick 10: 10 Tales From Your Closet


If you're anything like me, you have exactly enough time in the morning to get out of bed, shower, throw on some clothes that vaguely go together and, if you're lucky, grab a bowl of cereal. You're not standing in front of your closet saying, "Honey, why do you suppose the cardigan is called the cardigan?" The truth is, though, there's a story behind almost everything you wear. Here are 10 of them.

1. Cardigan sweater. It's hard to imagine that the tame little button down sweaters we often wear to cubicles at the office originated with the military, but they did. James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, who wore this type of sweater during his Crimean campaign from 1853-1856.

2. Raglan sleeve. If you've ever worn a baseball shirt, you've worn a raglan sleeve. It's a type of sleeve that goes straight from to the collar with no shoulder seam, and often the sleeves are a shorter length than usual. The style was named after the First Baron Raglan, who favored this style (particularly after he lost his right arm at Waterloo, according to some).

3. Chuck Taylors

. I love my Chucks (and so does my husband - those are our feet). Converse All-Stars are wildly popular these days, but that wasn't so until basketball player Chuck Taylor started wearing them in 1917. He loved them so much he went to Converse in 1921 and asked for a job; Converse obliged him. Taylor had all kinds of suggestions, including giving the shoe non-skid soles and making them higher for a little more ankle protection. Although you won't find Chucks on the feet of many professional players pounding the hardwood today, you're sure to find them on plenty of spectators.

4. Mary Janes. Remember the comic strip Buster Brown? OK, Probably none of us remember the original version "“it was first published in 1902. But you've probably at least heard of it in reference. Buster was a little boy who got up to all kinds of shenanigans with his dog, Tige, and sometimes his sister, Mary Jane. When Richard Outcault, Buster Brown's creator, sold licensing rights to his characters to the Brown Shoe Company in 1904, they named some of their shoes after the characters. The Mary Jane, of course, was the girl's shoe with the ankle strap. Mary Jane and Buster Brown both wore the style in the comic strip.

5. Blazers. In 1825, the rowing club at St. John's College in Cambridge wore bright red jackets while they as part of their sports uniform. The red made it look like the team and their boat were ablaze as they rowed their way down the river, hence the term "blazer." Another source has the blazer taking its name from the HMS Blazer. The crew aboard this Royal Navy ship apparently had special blue and white striped jackets made so they would look especially sharp for a visit from Queen Victoria, and soon the fashion caught on to civilians.

6. Bobby pins take their name from the hairstyle they were originally created for "“ the bob. Likewise, Bobby socks are named after the bob because they're cut short like the hairstyle was.

7. Dickies (or dickey).

I can't think of dickies without giggling "“ it makes me think of

Christmas Vacation

when cousin Eddie is wearing that black dickie under a white sweater so you can perfectly see the outline underneath his holiday best. Anyway, I only have half a story for you here "“ the turtleneck dickey takes its name from a type of dickey that was popular during the vaudeville days. They were just partial dress shirts designed to be worn with a tux, and they could be quickly and easily changed between skits. Plastic ones were even worn because they didn't wrinkle or stain. But how those original dickeys came to be called dickeys "“ your guess is as good as mine. Any etymologists out there know?

8. Kitty Foyle. You may not have known this particular type of dress had a name, but you know the dress "“ it's all black with stark white cuffs and collar. Wednesday Addams wore one, but long before her, Ginger Rogers made the style popular when she played a character named Kitty Foyle in a 1940 movie by the same name. She won an Oscar for her performance, actually.

9. A Nehru jacket has a lapel-less collar (also known as a mandarin collar) and is so-called because Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, liked to wear them during his reign from 1947-1964. But it may have been the Beatles who popularized the look "“ the Fab Four wore Nehru jackets when they gave their famed performance at Shea Stadium and the look became a "˜60s craze.

10. Capri pants. They were named, as you might imagine, after the Isle of Capri off the western coast of Italy, where the trend originated. At one time the term referred strictly to tight calf-length pants that had slits at the bottom hem, but now it generally means all calf-length pants. Mary Tyler Moore fought long and hard for the right to wear them on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Laura Petrie might not have been able to sleep in the same bed as her husband, but she was going to wear pants if it killed her!