Style Icons: Female »Claire McCardell

True Fashion Revolutionary

There’s so much to be happy about in today’s fashion, and I’m not talking about Italian Vogue fashion (though it makes me happy too!) but everyday-regular-girls-on-the streets-fashion.

More and more I see women in the subway or on their bikes or at my favorite bar looking adorable. Target and H&M have made it clear that style and affordability make great buddies, but the real person we have to thank for the marriage of the chic and the reasonably priced is Claire McCardell.

She’s not as widely known as she deserves to be, maybe because her clothes don’t tend to scream out their ingenuity or lack the fancy flair of her contemporaries (Chanel and Dior), but she’s probably the woman most responsible for the way we dress today. She pioneered ready to wear and womens sportswear and we can specifically thank her for: the tent dress, the wrap dress (though Von Furstenerg perfected it), contemporary swimwear, the ballet flat, fake fur versus real, and the widespread use of denim.

We’ll forgive her for coining the phrase “comfort first” because she had no way of knowing it might turn into velour jumpsuits and rhinestone flip flops.

Ten years ago, FIT staged a retrospective of her work but she’s even more relevant today with Mad Men resurrecting the beginnings of her quiet revolution. Back in the 40’s and 50’s and throughout her whole career, she was all about freedom for women and a casual but perfect look that defied the tradition of more uptight French modes of dressing.

She’s also relevant today for her inventive ways to save on materials and use new ones. Back then it was the war time rationing, these days it’s the dying earth and sinking economy.

But, at least if we follow her example, we’ll look good when it all goes down.

See more: Style Icons: Female

Posted on August 11, 2008

But what do you think?

Your Comment*

Your Name*

Your Email Address*

Your Web Site