The New School Archives Digital Collections

Claire McCardell fashion sketches ➔ Townley Frocks 1934


Related people/organizations

Claire McCardell (designer)
Townley Frocks (Firm) (commissioner)


circa 1934

Work Type



8.5 in (width) x 11 in (height)


In this year, McCardell presented her first five-piece system of interchangeable separates, or “mix-and-match” separates, which were inspired by her need to pack light when traveling. The relative simplicity and functionality of the garments proved her willingness to diverge from French couture, and would serve as one of her design trademarks for many years to come. Although the designs in this series feature ensembles with multiple components, it is unclear if any of them depict a full five-piece system. The majority of the designs are similar to what McCardell produced in previous years, with calf-length skirts, jabot collars, and wide shoulders, as popularized by Elsa Schiaparelli. Designs also include numerous embellishments such as ruffles and netting, which McCardell seldom used later on in her career. The inscriptions found on sketches in this series feature the names of French designers and New York department stores, including Coco Chanel, Augustabernard, and Best & Co. A few sketches also include the names Paramount and Blumenthal, presumably referring to a belt manufacturer and B. Blumenthal & Co., a fashionable button company.


Yohannan, Kohle and Nancy Nolf. Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998.

Related Terms

Kellen Design Archives


binders 17-21



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