The New School Archives Digital Collections

Claire McCardell fashion sketches ➔ Townley Frocks 1938


Related people/organizations

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


circa 1938

Work Type



8.5 in (width) x 11 in (height)


Designs include shirtdresses and other simple garments, many with stripes, hoods, full skirts, wide shoulders, puffed sleeves, and extra-wide waistbands. McCardell introduced her widely successful Monastic dress during this year, which was loosely based on a traditional Algerian garment. The loose, waistless dress was cut on the bias and could be belted in a number of ways, allowing the wearer to obtain a flattering shape based on their own preferences. Although there are many sketches in this series that appear to show qualities of the Monastic dress, it is difficult to determine if any depict the exact design that became a best-seller. This series includes inscriptions that refer to American manufacturers and retailers, including Lord & Taylor, Jack and Jill, and Blumenthal, a fashionable button company. The series also includes a sketch (labeled #549) that appears to be the same as a long-sleeved black wool dress with a wide embellished belt that is currently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s costume collection.


“Dress.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accessed July 20, 2015.; Yohannan, Kohle and Nancy Nolf. Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998.

Related Terms

Kellen Design Archives


binders 43-49



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