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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  5,714 ratings  ·  995 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 countless s ...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Portfolio Hardcover
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Jaclyn Day
Jul 31, 2012 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 Kindl
Feb 05, 2013 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
Aug 15, 2012 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
Jan 11, 2014 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 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sleepless Dreamer
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't do enough for the environment. 

I'm not a vegan yet, although I'm convinced it's ethically right and technically, there's nothing stopping me. From December 2018 to December 2019, I took over 25 flights. I don't recycle nearly enough or even close to it. 

However, there's one thing that I can say that I'm doing okay and that's shopping. I hardly ever buy clothes and when I do, I usually go to second hand stores. Cline describes a shopping cycle of cheap fashion which I just couldn't relate
Eustacia Tan
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
2020 Edit: Read Fashionopolis and decided to reread this. Would still recommend this book as one of the books to change the way you see fashion

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
Jun 13, 2012 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
Prashanthini Mande
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-for-thought
The amount of damage we do to the environment in buying mass-produced clothing is staggering. Apart from the pollution caused by industrial waste, the very fabric is mostly made of plastic and hence when they eventually clog the landfill, they will not degrade for hundreds of years. Yet, we never give it a thought because we buy so cheap.

Read the full review on my blog!
Jun 13, 2012 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
Feb 28, 2013 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
Jul 26, 2012 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
Nancy O'Toole
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, library
Have you ever wondered if their might be some negative consequences for being able to buy $7 shoes or $5 tank tops? What about overflowing closets filled with poorly made clothing that we almost never wear? Elizabeth Cline thought so, a concept she explores in Overdressed, which shows how the recent development of cheap fashion has negatively impacted the world. Surprisingly comprehensive for a book that comes in under 250 pages, Cline explores every avenue, showing how inexpensive price clothin ...more
Mar 02, 2013 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
I enjoyed this about as much as I expected to; it's certainly a quick read. Cline declares on the very last page "I know I will never go back to the way I dressed or shop in the stores where I used to shop. Because when I walk by an H&M or an Old Navy or a Target, I see what once looked like fashion meccas for what they really are: unsightly jumbles of cheap clothes dressed up as good deals."

The problem with this book for me is that I have always thought this. A few of my Goodreads friends foll
Uwe Hook
Jun 30, 2013 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
Jan 03, 2013 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
Dec 06, 2012 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
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.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended, and fair warning for feeling convicted to change

I read this book on a recommendation from Everyday Annie, and I'm really glad I did. I have so many thoughts on this book.

I went in with some trepidation, cringing because I was pretty sure it would challenge me to make changes in my wardrobe, and yep, that's exactly what happened. The tone in this nonfiction book is fairly conversational, and the author mixes in powerful stats with testimonies from people in the fashion industry. The
Caiti S
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Totally worthwhile read. Engrossing, fairly well researched, thought-provoking, and relatable as a person who buys clothes and at one time in my life spent more than necessary at fast-fashion retailers like H&M, F21, Kohl's, etc. Cline covers the history of the fashion industry that led us to this fast-fashion/over consumption/disposable clothing society, and does her own informal investigating into garment manufacturers in Bangladesh, China, and the Dominican Republic. She also looks at what ha ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is well written, well researched, and could be (and should be) life changing for anyone who reads it. I deeply hope that people will read and take to heart the important information in this book, to reset our fashion industry and greatly reduce its impact on our environment.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-this-world
i can’t believe i’m never shopping at forever 21 and that i’m gonna learn to sew again immediately

this is a solid book that takes you through how exactly fast fashion retailers like forever21 and h&m and zara get their prices so cheap which is smth i had been wondering for a whole but never did the work of actually looking into it. i’m...... changedt
Oct 26, 2013 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
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting and informative, overall. I’m glad it wasn’t 100% focused on sweat shops, as there is so much more to this issue. I like some of the ideas and suggestions brought up at the end.
Sharon Griffitts
Feb 07, 2013 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
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Impressive "investigative reporting" by Cline who wants to lift the curtain on women's cheap fashion.

As a man, fashion has a quite different meaning. In fact, average men's fashion changes very slowly for most generations, though men's style has become more casual as time goes by.

My father, well into the 1960s, would not think of going to work without a hat. Even into the next several decades, wearing a tie to a white collar job was expected. And you could wear the same shirt and tie for years w
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting, but frustrating book. I kept waiting for it to take off and find a groove, but it never really did. I felt the author kept repeating the same facts through most of the second half of the book, and it was very difficult to find an arc or cohesiveness to the chapters. It felt a bit scattered and more like a draft than a finished product.

Once I (reluctantly) accepted that, I kept waiting for the take-home message of how I should change to make more ethical clothing decision
Lara Krupicka
Mar 07, 2013 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
Jun 15, 2012 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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
equalhands: Where do Disposed Clothes End Up? 1 1 Mar 03, 2021 11:16PM  
Our Shared Shelf: April & May Member Selected Book: Overdressed: 2 488 May 13, 2020 08:06PM  
Our Shared Shelf: Reuse / Recycle; ways to Upcycle Clothing 8 2169 Apr 04, 2020 04:43PM  
Our Shared Shelf: PiF: April & May '20: Overdressed 2 64 Apr 01, 2020 10:57AM  
Taste in Fashion 1 1 Sep 25, 2018 03:29AM  
Mẫu áo đôi, áo cặp đẹp - Xu hướng thời trang áo đôi 2016 1 2 Apr 12, 2016 11:04AM  
So, where should we buy our clothing? 6 90 Oct 27, 2014 10:27PM  

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