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Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
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Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  3,413 Ratings  ·  698 Reviews
Until recently, Elizabeth Cline was a typical American consumer. She’d grown accustomed to shopping at outlet malls, discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and cheap but trendy retailers like Forever 21, Target, and H&M. She was buying a new item of clothing almost every week (the national average is sixty-four per year) but all she had to show for it was a closet and countle ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Portfolio Hardcover (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jaclyn Day
Jan 02, 2013 Jaclyn Day rated it really liked it
There’s a lot in this book I could have written myself. The casual pop-ins to H&M to buy an accessory or a $5 tanktop? Check. The hanging on to every rapidly changing trend? Check. The warped view of what “affordable” clothing means to our generation? Check.

The book is a quick read. I finished it in several hours over the weekend. The writing is familiar and casual, but with that comes a set of additional problems. The editing is sloppy and I caught typos throughout, but I did read this on K
Feb 08, 2013 Renee rated it really liked it
I don't even know where to begin. I remember looking at two friend's closets a few years ago and being shocked speechless over the insane number of clothes they had. Especially considering I saw them in the same clothes over and over and the vast majority spalid on the floor had never been worn. Throw on top that I find most of the clothes I see on people I know wearing to look patently inexpensive(thin, faded, pilled and pulled). This book explained to me how this came to be and how consumer cu ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Heidi rated it liked it
Shelves: foodie-hippie
In Overdressed Elizabeth Cline details the problems with what she terms "fast fashion:" the cheap clothing that has permeated nearly the entire market, making it almost impossible to find well made clothes that were made by someone earning a fair wage.

I appreciated all of the points she made... the first time. The major flaw of this book is that it is about 100 pages too long. Cline repeats herself over and over during the first 2/3 of the book. And while she emphasizes many times that cheap mat
May 23, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, book-club
Where I got the book: purchased on Kindle. A book club read.

I got to select the book club book for that month, and went for a theme of awareness. Overdressed is about being aware of the impact our thirst for cheap clothes is having on fashion and on the world. And what a great idea this was—Cline says in the preface that her own habit of buying cheap clothes in multiples was what got her thinking about the whole topic. The penny dropped when she found herself lugging home seven pairs of the same
Jul 30, 2012 Trena rated it really liked it
Overdressed covers the other end of the spectrum as Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster: cheap fast fashion. It does for clothing retail what Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture (attempted to do) for low-cost retail in general.

Cline explores the fast fashion industry and its aftermath: the mountains of waste and the secondary market that can't keep up, the loss of American and other first world garment jobs, the decline in clothing quality (making a secondary market irrelevant because the cl
Jul 18, 2013 Malcolm rated it liked it
The recent (and here I mean the last 10-15 years) emergence of widespread public concern about the real of cost of our cheap clothes – costs that are paid by workers in border areas, free trade zones and subcontractors’ factories in the Philippines, Mexico, then Thailand, then Camdodia, then Bangladesh, and still Mexico, then….. has been one of the big shifts in political debates and raised the profile of the politics of consumption. So much of the debate, however, has focussed on the situation ...more
Mar 02, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
The gist of Overdressed is that cheap fashion has changed the way Americans dress and shop. No longer do we invest in good quality clothing, rather we buy things as cheaply as possible. Instead of creating a wardrobe of fewer pieces of high quality, well-fitting things we love, we buy hundreds of items that are trendy, ill-fitting and of such low quality that they may only survive a few washings. Sometimes we don't even bother to wear our cheap finds. It's not uncommon to find clothing in thrift ...more
Eustacia Tan
Apr 28, 2012 Eustacia Tan rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I remember reading a book like this before. It was about branding and clothes and through this topic, I actually understood a lot more about IP rights and stuff. Sadly, I forgot the title so I can't share it with you. But, what I'm trying to say is that this book is just like that - excellent, amusing and educational.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion takes a deeper look into the implications of cheap fashion like H&M, Target, etc It's actually a very well-down piece of r
Jul 26, 2012 Emilyn rated it really liked it
I spent quite a bit of time about a week ago going through the entire backlog of posts over at ReFashionista, a very cool blog by South Carolinian Jillian Owens. It just so happened that I had Overdressed on hold at the library and that it came in for me not long after I finished reading the ReFashionista archives.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline is mostly about (you guessed it) fast fashion and the like. This means the ultra-cheap clothing available a
Aug 18, 2014 Cristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: packed
Donna [indignantly]: Slaves?! I haven't got slaves!
The Doctor [dryly]: Who do you think makes your clothes?
-- Doctor Who, "Planet of the Ood"

For all my interest in global issues, I'd rarely given the clothing industry much consideration; on that front, Overdressed has provided me with a great deal of food for thought. My wardrobe, for better or worse, has always been a mix of Ross finds and outlet specials. While no one has ever accused me of being fashion-forward, I took some contrarian pride i
Dec 06, 2012 Christina rated it really liked it
A beautiful but always badly dressed woman I used to know once told me, "I'd rather have lots of mediocre clothes than just a few really high-quality clothes." This book explains the impact of that attitude: the effect on the environment of millions of tons of cheap, disposable, mostly synthetic garments; on the domestic garment industry, when manufacturing fled to cheaper countries; on the people in those cheaper countries, who work under terrible conditions for equally terrible pay; and a lot ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Claudia rated it really liked it
An interesting, thought-provoking, and in some ways quite sad book. It's rare that I feel sorry for an author, but I do for this one.

This book was well publicized; I saw essays excerpted from it in both The New York Times and Slate, and Cline has the obligatory attention-grabbing single stat: Did you know that the average American now buys 64 items of clothing every year? It's a good description/indictment of the modern garment industry, and she does a pretty good job of connecting it to broader
Oct 26, 2013 Jules rated it it was ok
I'll state from the onset that Elizabeth Cline, as passionate about her subject she may be, is no Rebecca Skloot. The topic is interesting and easy, and this goes a long way in making the choppy writing and so-so investigative journalism palatable.

This book was as concerning and overwhelming as I predicted. It ended on a positive note, though, and for that I was appreciative. I've typed out a few passages from the book I thought were interesting and worth discussing.

"Sewing should be a good job
Mar 31, 2013 Maurinejt rated it really liked it
The book opens with an anecdote about a trendy shoe marked down to seven dollars. The author was amazed at the sale, and bought all that were in her size. Each lasted only a month or so before wearing out, but still she was stuck with 2 pairs unworn that are now passe. Thus she introduces us to the world of "fast" i.e., disposable fashion that beckons from all the stores we love to shop at. She describes the outrage she feels when required to pay more than 30$ for a top, which I have shared. We ...more
Sharon Griffitts
Mar 04, 2013 Sharon Griffitts rated it really liked it
This book should be an eye-opener for all the shopaholics out there, myself included though I have worked hard at rehab. Cheap clothes are just that - cheap both in dollars and as the author points out, in quality. And do we really need all that stuff?

Cline documents the great waste as Americans fill their closets with cheap clothing and shoes, much of it to be worn only a few times before it either falls apart in the laundry or the wearer tires of it. She visits second-hand stores and learns t
Uwe Hook
Jun 30, 2013 Uwe Hook rated it liked it
I had the same sense of revulsion reading this book as I did reading "Supersize Me" (which is more or less the food version of this book) and I see fast food and "fast fashion" as indicative of the same lack of basic skills. We don't typically cook -- and therefore don't recognize quality in food. Few people sew anymore, and therefore don't recognize quality in clothing. The high cost of housing means that cost becomes more important both for food and clothing -- and quality suffers. The manufac ...more
Mar 22, 2013 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Essential points from the book:
1) Increasing demand for fast fashion - trends that go from runways to the masses within weeks - has caused a paradigm shift in the production of clothes.
2) For consumers to be able to afford new items every week, clothes must be cheaper.
3) Cheaper prices means cheaper production - lower quality, but also lower wages, causing a continuing shift from domestic production to production in China and now onto even lower-wage countries like Bangladesh.
4) Cheap prices hav
Christine Henry
Jun 19, 2013 Christine Henry rated it it was ok
I read this book after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. Elizabeth Cline takes a very subjective and informative journey into the business of fashion over the past 20 or so years, after the emergence of "fast fashion". I really liked her personal insights into shopping, and how consumer desire is shaped by as well as feeds the intense cycle of modern clothing styles. Cline delves into the international business of clothing and touches on how this has impacted the US economy, but finds ...more
Lara Krupicka
Mar 07, 2013 Lara Krupicka rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book - it answered some of the questions I've been wondering about. Like why is it that so many of my clothes have to be washed in cold water any more (answer: not just to save energy, but because they're so poorly made, they won't hold up otherwise). And how is it that clothes are cheaper now than twenty years ago (answer:basically you have to read the book).

I learned a lot about fast fashion, the history of the garment industry, and where our clothes come from. The one thing tha
Jul 05, 2012 Mikhaela rated it it was amazing
This book was a more compelling call to get back to my sewing machine than any of the adorable and colorfully packaged sewing how-to books and pattern books I own. Thrifting, making and mending our own clothes won't solve the global environmental, labor and human rights disaster that is the rise of the cheap fashion industry--but it can't hurt, either.

Whether or not you're the crafty type--Cline does an excellent (and even entertaining) job of breaking down the life (and afterlife) of cheap fash
Aug 01, 2014 Ellen rated it really liked it
I was expecting Overdressed to be primarily about the conditions in clothing factories and the relative track records of popular clothing companies in that regard. It's broader than that, however, taking into account what happens to donated clothing, the rise of retail chains, and the sheer amount of resources involved in making all of these clothes we buy and then don't wear.

While she isn't really in the business of offering solutions, Cline waxes rhapsodic over the virtues of sewing your own c
Lisa Schmeiser
Apr 01, 2013 Lisa Schmeiser rated it it was amazing
You'll never look at $5 tank tops from Old Navy in the same way again.

After reading this book, I was angry, in a sort of impotent way. If you want beautiful, quality clothing made by people working under humane conditions and being paid a living wage, you had better be rich. The rest of us are drowning under a tide of clothing cranked out by very young, very poor people working with very shoddy materials and very cursory technique. There is no middle ground any more.

Although Cline does a wonderf
Feb 12, 2013 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a lot good points, but I couldn't help but be irritated by the book's conclusion. Sew all your own clothes! Patronize the boutiques of etherial Brooklyn prairie princesses! MOAR RECYCLED PLASTIC SHOOOOOES! It could just be that I felt a little too catered-to; as a city-dwelling, 20-something, socially-conscious, hobbyist seamstress and knitter who occasionally buys supercheap/bad quality clothing, this book was pretty squarely aimed at my demographic.

Huh, I've written 2 vaugely cr
Sher❤ The Fabulous BookLover
4 Stars

This quote sums up this book perfectly:

"We currently spend the most money on brands names and high end designers. Instead of shopping for a name or label, our hard-earned money should be going toward good materials and garments with a strong and unique design vision. We need more designers making good clothes. And more consumers who are willing to buy them." pg. 204

I completely agree.
Sep 14, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Important story to be told. If you think your donated clothes will be worn by someone else, or you shop at Target/H&M/Forever 21... and most of us do... this will open your eyes.

At the same time, the book isn't the best written nonfiction I've read. Repetitive and a bit dry, this book isn't gripping but will make you think twice about your buying habits.

Viv JM
Mar 24, 2016 Viv JM rated it liked it
Interesting look at the pitfalls of our "fast fashion" culture. Like others, I found Cline offered a disappointing lack of real solutions, but it has made me think about the issue more, and look to investigate further.
Carol Tensen
Oct 17, 2016 Carol Tensen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A number of years ago, I tried to donate some cast-off clothing to Goodwill and was oddly rebuffed. They told me that they only wanted furniture, housewares and appliances. It was unthinkable that there wasn't somebody somewhere who wanted my henley tops and acid washed jeans. Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed cleared up any mistaken ideas that I had about any second life my clothing had to offer. Apparently, we've gotten to the point where we are buying clothes so cheaply that they have become a di ...more
Jan 07, 2017 Regina rated it really liked it
I am so glad I stumbled across this book. As someone who's been known to wear a $10 dress with $500 shoes, it was a revelation to learn the repercussions of my shopping choices. I feel resolved to stop buying cheap crap and now see with wide-open eyes that there's something very wrong with today's consumerism. Should I buy a skirt or a cup of coffee?!

The section detailing what happens to the unending mounds of trash bags full of donated clothes was fascinating, and the chapters detailing manufac
Elisabeth Montegna
Mar 03, 2013 Elisabeth Montegna rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013-new
Overdressed examines the cheap, fast fashion trend that is typified by H&M, Old Navy, etc. The author shows the effects cheap fashion has had on high fashion, consumer awareness, and the growing environmental cost of disposable clothing. Cline talks to manufacturers in the garment industry in the US, China, Bangladesh, and the Dominican Republic and looks at where these cheap clothes end up after we dispose of them.

The book appears to be well-researched. In addition to the author's own inves
Sep 10, 2012 Beth rated it liked it
I skimmed parts of this book. It's about the fashion industry and impact of cheap clothing. The author covers some things about sweatshop conditions and low payment of workers worldwide and talks about the dying garment manufacturing industry in the U.S. since most clothing is now made in China or (soon to be) elsewhere. She also talks about the proliferation of chains like Forever 21, H&M, Walmart, Target etc. and that people today expect to buy clothing for very cheap. This has resulted in ...more
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So, where should we buy our clothing? 6 76 Oct 27, 2014 10:27PM  
Editing? 1 15 Dec 30, 2013 01:24PM  
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  • To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?
  • Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster
  • Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture
  • Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us
  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
  • You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You
  • No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics
  • Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
  • Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet
  • Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff
  • Nineteeth-Century Fashion in Detail
  • Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style
  • The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change
  • Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution
  • The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957
  • Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class
  • All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending

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“If consumers weren’t so focused on quantity over quality and trends over innovative design, the price of domestic production might not seem so exorbitant.” 1 likes
“There are very few high-quality garments being produced at all. A very, very, very small amount. So small that most people never even see it in their lifetimes. People are wearing rags, basically.” 0 likes
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