Anne Holcomb's Reviews > Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline
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's review
Sep 06, 2012

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bookshelves: nonfiction

As someone who makes a hobby out of combing through the racks of Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Salvation Army, I knew this book about the hidden costs of "cheap" clothing would hit home for me - and, well, it *sort of* did. In the first few chapters of this book, Cline provides a comprehensive overview of how "fast fashion" rose to prominence in the past few decades and how globalization has affected the world of fashion and clothes shopping, making present-day consumers unwilling to pay for longer-lasting, more expensive and better constructed clothing. However, I wished that the second half of her book took a more long-term view. She describes what happens to cast-off cheap clothing, but never got specific about the environmental impacts of the textile industry and the impact of thrown-away clothing on the environment. I expected this book to convince me not to shop at Target and other cheap-clothes destinations, but it really didn't. Instead, it convinced me not to buy any mid-level brands, because the clothes are made in the same places and then the prices are simply marked up because of the brand label. The author spends the last couple chapters talking about refashioning and hand-making clothes as an antidote to our disposable culture - which is cool, if you're someone who can sew, but doesn't really work for the rest of us... I think Cline did a good job of highlighting some of the problems of our current consumer culture, but this book could have been a lot more convincing if it had taken a wider and longer-range look at the environmental consequences of throwaway clothes. I think this would be interesting to read alongside the new book, "The Knockoff Economy," which argues that imitation fosters creativity in our culture.

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