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How Long Denim Skirts Went From Anti-Fashion Statement to Runway Must-Have

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IN 1942, Claire McCardell, America’s most American designer, created her best-known dress, the denim Pop-over, so named because you could pop it on over other clothes to protect them during housework. Department-store buyers were so enamored of the Pop-over that they persuaded McCardell’s employer, Adolph Klein, to commit to a huge 75,000-yard denim order, assuring him the garment would be a sell-out hit.

At the time, denim was a workingman’s textile that women rarely wore. If the Pop-over flopped, Klein would be saddled with miles of excess fabric. He implored McCardell to come up with some other denim designs—just in case the order was overkill. She obliged, and the denim skirt entered American fashion. (Klein needn’t have worried about the Pop-over: Priced at $6.95, it shattered sales expectations.)

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