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Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  4,508 ratings  ·  849 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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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,508 ratings  ·  849 reviews


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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 K
...more
Renee
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
Heidi
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
...more
Jane
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
...more
Cristina
Jul 18, 2014 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
...more
Claudia
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
...more
Prashanthini Mande
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-for-thought
Very early on into reading this book, I started to realize how I do not know anything about any piece of clothing I own other than where I bought it. I didn’t know where it was manufactured or what fabric it was made out of. I didn’t know how to repair them. If something doesn’t fit, or if I stop liking it, I throw it away. As simple as that. I assumed someone would use it or recycle it or maybe it will go to the landfill.

That’s why I never bought a single piece of clothing after I started read
...more
Trena
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
...more
Malcolm
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
Laura
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
Eustacia Tan
Apr 28, 2012 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
...more
Abc
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lettura molto interessante che mi ha fatto aprire gli occhi su tante cose.
Confesso di essere un'abituale frequentatrice dei negozi cinesi e confesso che spesso ho acquistato abbigliamento e borse a poco prezzo pensando che tanto mi importava poco quanto sarebbero durati visto quello che ci avevo speso.
Allo stesso modo confesso di aver pensato che un capo di vestiario messo nel cassone della Caritas tutto sommato era anche una buona azione perché aiutava chi di vestiti non ne può comprare.
Leggen
...more
Emilyn
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
...more
Nancy Meservier
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
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
Taylor
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
...more
Christina
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
Lucy
Feb 08, 2013 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
...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.
RuthAnn
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
...more
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 wha ...more
Anna (Tējtasītes blogs)
Vērtīgs un domas raisošs žurnālistisks pētījums par ātrās modes neglītajām aizkulisēm. Sākot no ekoloģiskā kaitējuma, ko lielās apģērbu ražotāju ķēdes nodara videi, turpinot ar neapskaužamajiem apstākļiem, kādos strādā tie, kuru darba pienākumos ietilpst sašūt tos neskaitāmos vājas kvalitātes H&M un Zara t-kreklus, ko laimīgā neziņā valkājam ikdienā, un beidzot ar to, kā ātrā mode - biežā trendīgo, taču neizturīgo apģērbu pirkšana un izsviešana mēslainē, ir mainījusi sabiedrības domāšanu un ...more
prat
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
Jules
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
...more
Edmond Dantes
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Libro Molto interessante invero, anche se la Traduzione Italiana (2018) è 5 anni in ritardo sullla prima edizione inglese (2013) per cui, specialmente nella descrizione del mercato della moda (avvento Amazon et simili) descrive un mondo inesistente.
Giusto atto di accusa al consumismo becero di chi pensa di comperare Moda a 10/20 € , accumuluando solo robaccia ed omologandosi al resto del mondo.
Come sempre il segreto è la individuale personalità, l'ideale sarebbe farsi i vestiti da se o riaggiorn
...more
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
...more
HBalikov
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
...more
Annie
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.
Christine Henry
Jun 19, 2013 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 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
...more
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“Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear. Building a wardrobe over time, saving up and investing in well-made pieces, obsessing over the perfect hem, luxuriating in fabrics, and patching and altering our clothes are old-fashioned habits. But they’re also deeply satisfying” 2 likes
“Carbon monoxide and other pollutants from Asia have been documented on the West Coast since the late 1990s and are actually affecting weather patterns there as well. Global climate change as a result of global industrialization is now a reality, no matter where we live. I” 1 likes
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