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What Shall I Wear? The What, Where, When, and How Much of Fashion, New Edition

What Shall I Wear?

The What, Where, When, and How Much of Fashion, New Edition

By Claire McCardell
Foreword by Tory Burch
Afterword by Allison Tolman


Price: $24.99

  • Additional formats:
  • Publication Date: August 30, 2022
  • Imprint: Abrams Image
  • Trim Size: 6 x 9
  • ISBN: 9781419763830
  • Page Count: 160
  • Illustrations: 16-page insert
  • Rights: World/All

First published in 1956, What Shall I Wear? is revolutionary fashion designer Claire McCardell’s collection of fashion wisdom and philosophy, and a vivacious guide to looking effortlessly stylish. This new edition of the sought-after classic features a foreword by iconic designer Tory Burch and a color insert of photos from McCardell’s collections.

“The testament to great design, Claire McCardell’s dresses look fresh, contemporary, and desirable eight decades after they were made, as the Costume Institute’s 2022 exhibit In America: An Anthology of Fashion demonstrated.” —Nicole Phelps, global director, Vogue Runway and Vogue Business

“Among the many surprises and insights I discovered in McCardell’s valuable book is that she wanted to call it Fashion is Fun. That may also be the secret behind her genius and enduring influence—she refused to take fashion too seriously.” —Cathy Horyn, New York Magazine

“The first designer to create a cohesive vision rooted in the American lifestyle of ease, McCardell and her contributions as a designer and a woman in business are often overlooked. Tory Burch’s new foreword . . .puts this American treasure in her rightful place.” —Constance White, fashion editor and author of How to Slay: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style

“Claire McCardell’s guiding philosophy of dressing with ease in afunctional, fashionable American look was groundbreaking—and feminist—for her times. And it continues to resonate globally on the runways and in closets today.” —Booth Moore, executive editor, Women’s Wear Daily


“Don’t Get Dressed Without Reading This BookThere’s something about a book’s materiality and authorial style that finds common cause with the catwalk. If in doubt, simply spend some time with Ms. McCardell, whose advice accessorizes the mind, not just the house — and costs less, these days, than the price of a tube of haute lipstick.”
The New York Times
In our rule-free, anything’s-a-trend world, you’d think the last thing we need is a book telling women how to get dressed. And yet! Claire McCardell’s What Shall I Wear? The What, Where, When, and How Much of Fashion, a witty and slender book first released in 1956 and now back in print with an introduction by Tory Burch, is the best and most considerate fashion book I’ve read this year.”

About the author

Claire McCardell (1905–1958) was an American fashion designer. In 1990, Life magazine named her one of the 100 most important Americans of the twentieth century, and in 1955, she was on the cover of Time magazine. She attended Parsons School of Design in New York and studied in Paris. As head designer of Townley Frocks, she was one of the first American designers to have name recognition. She was the recipient of two Coty Awards and won the first American Sportswear Designs Award from Sports Illustrated magazine. Her work is in museums across the country and has been the subject of retrospectives at the Smithsonian and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Tory Burch is an American designer known for beautiful, timeless pieces. Founded in 2004, her collections include ready to-wear, handbags, footwear, accessories, jewelry, home, and beauty. Empowering women is Tory’s guiding principle, underpinning her design philosophy and the Tory Burch Foundation.
Allison Tolman is the vice president of Collections and Interpretation at the Maryland Center for History and Culture (MCHC) in Baltimore, Maryland. Formerly the associate curator of the Fashion Archives at MCHC, Tolman became fascinated with Claire McCardell as she delved into the deep collection of clothing and personal papers housed there.