What I’ve Learned From Claire McCardell’s 1956 Reissue of ‘What Should I Wear?’

Model in a striped evening dress by Claire McCardell (1949).Photo: Horst P. Horst

earrings are the main accessory
“In a society where hats are gradually disappearing, earrings play a very important role because they dress the upper part of the body very well and go perfectly with long gloves or good cocktail shoes.” McCardell, as you can see, highlights the importance of wearing the right gloves and hats for each occasion. Although this is no longer part of our daily dress, the phrase gave birth to an obsession with the perfect earrings. After getting dressed every morning, there are times when I change my earrings a few times. Gold or silver, more or less thick, pendants, asymmetrical… There are many possibilities, and I believe that all of them have an important role when it comes to balance our look. However, now that we seem to be a society without hats (hats don’t count), I’m wondering if it’s time to add a little hat to my wardrobe that makes me happy every day, maybe like the ones shown Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen in The Row Resort Collection.

If the shoe hurts, don’t wear it
I keep having to constantly remind myself, so I thought maybe you could use the advice too.

Create your own style
“We can all create a trend, even if it is for oneself. Something that identifies you, with who you are”. Although it is an advice book, McCardell never tells us what to do. He may describe to us his collection of furs or his countless brooches, but he makes it clear from the start that that’s what works for you a she and that the reader can, or even mustThink about what to add or remove from your closet. At one point he suggests tying a red cord around his neck and, well, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. Until now the answer has been no, but, you know, the important thing is to ask yourself the question and give yourself the opportunity to broaden your horizons.

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