Fall Fashion, 1949: Claire McCardell does Tartan Plaids

Taking a look back to the fall of 1949, fashion of the late 1940s was showing dramatic and inventive silhouettes that followed Dior's New Look. American designers such as Claire McCardell would see a huge rise in their fashion star as the post war economies allowed for greater experimentation and design creativity than had been possible during the war years.

Back to school fall fashions have always included plaids in the mix. Warm wool plaids would appear in the fall magazine issues that hit newstands during the hottest weeks of late summer, providing the reader with an exciting change from hot weather wear.

While the classic, preppy kilt and other plaid skirts seemed to dominate, there have always been those who explore plaids just a bit further. Case in point: Claire McCardell's knife pleated plaid dress on the left with push up sleeves and a dramatic shawl collar (Miron worsted wool, $59.95 at Lord & Taylor). On the right is a dress designed by Dorothy Cox. Her design shows a traditional plaid made up as a wonderful cape collar over a circular skirt ($55 at Henri Bendel). Both are from the fall of 1949, when skirts were wide, hems longer, and gorgeous textiles were becoming more plentiful. These would be the seed of style for the next decade to come, the 1950s fashion silhouette.

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