Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958)
Gift of Claire McCardell, 1945 (C.I.45.71.2a,b)
Sally Kirkland, in All-American: A Sportwear Tradition, reported that McCardell's "Popover" dress "sold in the thousands (its low price [$6.95] was because it was classified as a 'utility garment' and Claire's manufacturer, Adolf Klein, of Townley, was able to make a special deal with labor). But some form of a wraparound dress around $25 or $30 was always in Claire's collection thereafter, and she liked denim so much she made coats and suits of it for townwear completed with the workman's double topstitching as a form of decoration. Norman Norell once told me that Claire could take five dollars worth of common cotton calico and make a dress a smart woman could wear anywhere." In utility achieved with ingenuity, McCardell found a synergy. The modern woman could both be chic and do the cooking. In a photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, the model wearing the "Popover" has one hand in an oven mitt and the other in her capacious pocket.