A Cardigan is a style of sweater that uses a zipper, buttons, ties or other mechanism to close the opening that runs along the front of the sweater - as opposed to a pullover sweater that has no front opening.
The name of the cardigan sweater is said to have come from British military commander James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan. While the cardigan may have early European ties, today this style of sweater is worn across the globe and has no affiliation to any particular culture.
In contrast to pullover sweaters which are typically circular knit to form a single unending tube of material, the cardigan is either constructed out of three panels of material (one for the back, and two for the front) or knitted as a single piece of material following the back and forth knitting technique.
Cardigans are worn by both men and women in casual and formal situations, and cardigans are considered equally appropriate for a walk to the grocery store or to be worn underneath a suit jacket.
There are many different styles of cardigans including different necklines and different front opening configurations. Some of the more popular subsets of the cardigan include the shrug, the bolero jacket and surplice style cardigans.