What Shall I Wear?

The What, Where, When, and How Much of Fashion, New Edition


First published in 1956, What Shall I Wear? is revolutionary fashion designer Claire McCardell’s collection of fashion wisdom, philosophy, and vivacious guide to looking effortlessly stylish.


ISBN: 9781419763830 Category:

Claire McCardell


First published in 1956, What Shall I Wear is revolutionary fashion designer Claire McCardell’s collection of fashion wisdom and philosophy and a vivacious guide to looking effortlessly stylishClaire McCardell, the revolutionary fashion designer credited with originating “The American Look,” designed for the emerging active lifestyle of women in the 1940s and ’50s. She was the originator of mix-and-match separates, open-backed sundresses, and feminine denim fashion; she started the trend for ballet flats as a wartime leather-rationing measure. Spaghetti straps, brass hooks and eyes as fasteners, rivets, menswear details and fabrics—they were all started by McCardell. Her Monastic and Pop-over dresses achieved cult status, and her fashions were taken up by working women, the suburban set, and high society alike.First published in 1956, What Shall I Wear provides a glimpse into the sources of McCardell’s inspiration—travel, sports, the American leisure lifestyle, and her own closet—and how she transformed them into fashion while still approaching design from her chosen vantage point of usefulness. A retro treat for designers and anyone who loves fashion, both vintage and contemporary, the book is teeming with charming illustrations and still-solid advice for finding your own best look, creatively shopping on a budget, and building a real wardrobe that is chic and distinctive. What Shall I Wear is a tribute to the American spirit in fashion.

Additional information

Weight 380 g
Dimensions 16 x 23.6 cm
Publisher name ABRAMS
Publication date 15 November 2022
Number of pages 160
Format Hardback
Contributors Foreword by Tory Burch
Dimensions 16 x 23.6 cm
Weight 380 g


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Claire McCardell (1905–1958) was an American fashion designer. In 1990, Life named her one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century, and in 1955, she was on the cover of TIME. She attended Parsons School of Design in New York and studied in Paris. As head designer of Townley Frocks, she was one of the first American designers to have name recognition. She was the recipient of two Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards and won the first American Sportswear Designers Award from Sports Illustrated. Her work is in museums across the country and has been the subject of retrospectives at the Smithsonian and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Tory Burch
is an American designer known for beautiful, timeless pieces. Founded in 2004, her collections include ready-to-wear, handbags, footwear, accessories, jewelry, home, and beauty. Empowering women is Tory’s guiding principle, underpinning her design philosophy and the Tory Burch Foundation.
Allison Tolman
is the vice president of Collections and Interpretation at the Maryland Center for History and Culture (MCHC) in Baltimore, Maryland. Formerly the associate curator of the Fashion Archives at MCHC, Tolman became fascinated with Claire McCardell as she delved into the deep collection of clothing and personal papers housed there.