The Raglan Sleeve (a very short history)

Following on from our post about the Cardigan, we thought we’d have a look into another style featured in our collection this season, and decided upon the Raglan Sleeve (as featured on our beautiful Eco Coat).

Interestingly, this comfortable and flattering style was actually born out of practical necessity.  In 1815, during the Waterloo Campaign, Lord Raglan (born Badminton, Gloucestershire) received wounds to his right arm and sadly had to undergo amputation as a result.  Following his operation, sweet Lord Raglan told the orderly not to take his arm away until he had removed a ring that his wife, Lady Emily Harriet Wellesley-Pole, had given him.  Raglan had been an honourable and brave fellow, being awarded the Army Gold Cross and the Military General Service Medal for his services in the Peninsular War prior to this critical injury.  After the loss of his right arm, Lord Raglan learnt to write with his left hand, and resumed his post as secretary to the British Embassy in Paris.  He also sat in the House of Commons on behalf of Truro in Cornwall, was later appointed secretary to the Duke of Wellington, and remained with him as his Military Secretary until the Duke’s death in 1852. 

Obviously not a gentleman to shy away from his duties despite falling victim to a critical injury, Lord Raglan’s tailor innovatively began to make garments with a sleeve that made dressing much easier for him.  The sleeve extends to become part of the shoulder, creating a diagonal seam from the underarm to the collar.  This allowed much easier movement for Lord Raglan, who would have been adjusting to his disability whilst honourably trying to maintain his duties to his country.

Raglan died at the age of 66, in 1855 in Crimea, Ukraine.  Present at the Crimean War, the anxieties of military action began to seriously affect his health.  Following the failure of his last orchestrated attack on the 18th June, he passed away 11 days later.  He was succeeded by his wife and his two sons Arthur and Richard. 

It was following his death that the Raglan Sleeve began to gain popularity for its useful advantages in country- and sports-wear, first appearing in the dictionary 9 years later, in 1864.  The flexibility of the design means that it is beneficial in activities such as shooting and hunting – you will also be familiar with the style being used on classic American Baseball sweaters. 

Our Eco Coat is one of our favourites this season – epitomising classic British outerwear with added elegance.  The wool & mohair blend makes for a warm and hardy piece which is fully lined and extends to mid-calf length, giving almost complete coverage for cold, brisk winter days (whilst still allowing space for your feet to stride quickly towards a warm fire and a toasty glass of mulled cider!)  We think it’s a key style this winter and as an addition to the green tartan, we have made an exclusive selection of plain navy, plain stone and black & brown check versions available only in our standalone stores. 

Happy shopping!

C&R xx

PS. The image of Lord Raglan is credited to

1 comment

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interesting post about the Raglan sleeve. I always wondered why this design came about.