Bathing suit

Designer: Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958)

Manufacturer: Townley Frocks (American, founded 1929)

Date: 1943

Culture: American

Medium: cotton

Credit Line: Gift of Claire McCardell, 1945

Accession Number: C.I.45.71.4


The natural drape of a McCardell could pass, as in this example, through the legs, especially in swimwear and when emulating the style of non-Western untailored clothing that gyrates around the body. Many different body types could be accommodated and even flattered by the interplay of fabric contingent on the body and the whirling fullness of drapery. Here, Howard Chandler Christy's graphic all-American girl as Liberty in World War I posters has been inventively transformed. With its simply wrapped and flowing drapery, this playsuit is a World War II rendering of Neoclassical wet drapery. McCardell's summer ginghams of the 1940s are distinct Americana.