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

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,978 ratings  ·  508 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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Deluxe by Dana ThomasBringing Home the Birkin by Michael TonelloOverdressed by Elizabeth L. ClineAll the Money in the World by Laura VanderkamCheap by Ellen Ruppel Shell
Books on Shopping (Non Fiction)
3rd out of 24 books — 14 voters
To Die for Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy SiegleSustainability with Style by Lisa HeinzeNaked Fashion by Safia MinneyTalking dress - vertelt je alles over eerlijke kleding by Eyskoot, MariekeCheap by Ellen Ruppel Shell
Sustainability and Fashion
6th out of 7 books — 6 voters


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Jaclyn Day
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...more
Renee
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
Jane
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...more
Heidi
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...more
Trena
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...more
Eustacia Tan
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...more
Malcolm
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
Emilyn
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...more
Lara Krupicka
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...more
Taylor
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...more
Laura
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
Sharon
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.

Recommended.
Lisa Schmeiser
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...more
Christina
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
Maurinejt
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
Sheryl Kirby
On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself sitting in a restaurant measuring the cost of my meal against the cost of the clothes on my back. This entree costs as much as my shirt. This tiny dessert, more than my scarf. A multi-course tasting menu can ring in at more than a pair of really well-made boots.

Like most people I’m inclined to blame this disparity on the high price of food. But I am wrong to do so, for the problem is not that quality, well-prepared restaurant food is to expensive, it’...more
Mikhaela
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...more
Lyla
WOW!!!!

This book inspired me to hem my pants and replace a jacket zipper. I'd been putting both tasks off. I am also looking for clothes and other things that are made in the USA. I had NO IDEA how shitty our clothes had become. I discussed it with my mother. She told me that her mother made all of their dresses and that her grandmother had been a tailor. She made some of my clothes when I was a child but lacked the skills to fit things to me as I grew older.

I found this book to be immensely th...more
Lucy
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...more
Claudia
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...more
Elisabeth Montegna
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...more
Sharon Griffitts
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...more
Beth
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
Uwe Hook
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
Beth
Does this book truely make a case for slow fashion? I suppose that depends on the reader. I thought she made a convincing case that America is near the end of the cheap fashion age -- not because of our inner conviction, but because of global economic pressure. I was surprised to learn that the garment industry is in as fast a decline as the newspaper business, since I didnt' know how much of a clothing industry we had in the 1980's and 90's. I enjoyed learning about the impact of late-90s anti-...more
Carolyn
This is a well researched and thoughtful book about fashion and clothing. Who would have ever thought about the long journey that little black dress has taken and how many highly important areas of our local, national and global economic, creative, and environmental issues it affects. Since the American Industrial Revolution the textile and fashion industry has been on a long and tortuous road. The U.S. is really not even in the game any longer. Asia and third world countries have hi-jacked the...more
Christine Henry
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
Jules
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...more
Amity
Great book. It is a history of clothing in America, and labor issues, and global economics. But it's also a personal story; and that's why it isn't like the other books about this issue.

Cline, in the beginning of the book, takes all of her clothes and puts them in the middle of her apartment. Almost all come from Old Navy, the Gap, Target--'fast fashion' places. My closet is almost exactly the same; less Gap, though. She talks about how buying clothes used to be a once or twice a year deal and n...more
Jane
This has been doing the rounds of the interwebs for a while, and it fits into my recent goals to buy less, make more, reduce crap. It was a fairly thought-provoking read, even if not a lot of it was a major revelation. It sucks that good manufacturing jobs are almost extinct in the US, and while the author points to slow fashion in LA and Brooklyn as signs that this might be changing, I hardly think it's on an industry scale yet. I had no idea that when I was a teenager, we still made 50% of our...more
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Editing? 1 7 Dec 30, 2013 01:24PM  
So, where should we buy our clothing? 5 54 Dec 18, 2013 11:14AM  
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