Born on this Day Claire McCardell – May 24, 1905

Claire McCardell cover of Time Magazine
Claire McCardell cover of Time Magazine

Here is Claire McCardell’s The Essential Eleven – Eleven rules every designer, either professional or individual should embrace.

  1. Learn to see
  2. Learn to sew
  3. Learn to drape
  4. Learn color
  5. Learn anatomy
  6. Learn to wear clothes well and appropriately
  7. Learn the difference between good taste and bad taste
  8. Learn what sells and what doesn’t
  9. Learn fashion history – trends-cycles
  10. Learn how to feel changes before they come
  11. Learn how to know when they’re gone

From Claire McCardell’s What Shall I Wear?  Now available in a new edition.  Strongly recommended for fashionista’s and individual designers and seamstresses.  What are your essential 11? Do you agree with McCardell? Would you add anything?  

McCardell is one of my favorite designers. Known today for her “American Look” she embraced the American casual look and vibe and made it refined without being overly French and fussy (think Dior).  Some her most famous designs are the Popover dress which is widely celebrated among vintage sewing bloggers, ballet slippers which fit her pain free approach to wearing clothing and the use of draping to show off the body.

Her look was about freedom, movement yet fashionable and even by today standards very sexy. Oh, and did I mention she liked pockets? The bigger than better. 






  1. I want to try on that romper in the b&w photo with the ankle wrapped sandals. I think it would be contemporary without the gigantic patch pockets. What happens when someone with curves wears that outfit? Does the figure become cartoonish?


  2. Wow, I love the designs you’ve shown by Ms. McCardell. I was thinking that such vastly different styles must span several decades, so I looked up more info about her career. She designed from the 1930’s through the 1950’s – which explains the progression of (gorgeous) housedress all the way to capri pants.


  3. I have that book, and I love and admire Claire McCardell. Thanks for this post. I always thought every designer worth her/his salt encourages the actual construction of clothes.


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