Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To die for

I think that if I'd been born around in the 40s and 50s, you would've been hard pressed to get me to wear anything but Claire McCardell Clothes. The woman just got it, when it comes to America women. Not necessarily top of the line glamour, but stylish, comfortable and forward thinking, yes.

Think about it -- what other designer would think of the Pop-Over dress? It was a dress/apron that you could "pop over" your normal dress when you were cleaning. It even came with an attached mitt that you could use when you cleaned/cooked/gardened. Sold about a bazillion of them, and it kept showing up in her line, in different versions, over the years.

Claire McCardell was successful because she wore her own stuff -- sometimes for years before it went into a collection. She knew the beauty of simplicity of style, but the importance of things like embellishments, sashes, and the little things that give a garment some sass without being vulgar. She chose simple fabrics like cottons, but accented it with things like plaid. I really think I'd live and breathe Claire McCardell if I could.

A little McCardellism that you might not know: in 1955, Ms. McCardell, an avid skiier and sportswoman, was asked to serve on the board of a new magazine. The name? Sports Illustrated.

Pattern: McCalls 4292, from 1957. Created shortly before Claire McCardell's untimely death.


  1. She really was ahead of her time! Did you see they re-released her book What Shall I Wear? It's backordered on Amazon right now, but I can't wait to get my copy, earliest will be in October I think :/

  2. Awesome pattern! Where is it listed?

  3. Lisa, I've had women who were around during McCardell's day tell me they would save for weeks, go without lunch, and walk to work just so they could buy her clothes.

    I love that pattern. I have one from that McCall's line - the sportswear sepatates.