American Ingenuity: Sportswear, 1930s–1970s

American_Ingenuity_Sportswear_1930s_1970sBeginning in the early 1930s, American designer sportswear came into its own, later becoming a major force in fashion that continued into the 1990s to influence the way women dress. Designers such as Bonnie Cashin, Tina Leser, Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, Clare Potter, and Emily Wilkens initiated a new standard of dressing, one that is right for the lifestyle of the modern woman and that is purely American in its practicality, simplicity, and democratic elements. This was clothing for comfort and versatility that rationally answered the needs of women and was created mostly by women. In 1932, a legendary retailer at Lord & Taylor, Dorothy Shaver, presented a series of showings in the store of new American sportswear trends, for the first time bringing the designers together and specifically naming them. The new sensibility was toward freedom of movement and freedom of choice, and the clothing included mix-and-match ensembles, playsuits, pants, and a variety of activewear. This was the start of the particular branch of fashion history that is presented in American Ingenuity.

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