Designer Claire McCardell American
Manufacturer Townley Frocks American

Not on view

At a time when most swimwear was made of wool, McCardell understood the precepts of the new reforms in dress, and she revoked the authority that wool had maintained from the nineteenth century. She knew the discomfort of the wool bathing suit, both when dry or when wet, and came up with-along with Tina Leser, Carolyn Schnurer, and other contemporaries-the cotton swimsuit and its companion, the playsuit. The new swimsuit allowed for fresh silhouettes appropriate for cotton. Wool would never have permitted the puffy, provisional forms of this joyous bathing suit. McCardell treasured cotton's rich dilations and ballooning, along with its positive feel on the body.

Playsuit, Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958), cotton, American

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