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April & May '20: Overdressed > Your Reviews of Overdressed

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message 1: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
What did you think of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion?

Did your perspective change about fashion after reading this? If so, how did it change?


message 2: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (beesandbooks) | 3 comments At the moment, my biggest concern with this book is that it considers the poverty of the makers but not of the buyers. I absolutely think it's important to consider the treatment and payment of makers of clothing, as do plenty of people as demonstrated by Cline's last few chapters. One thing I couldn't help but notice throughout the last chapter and the afterward was that Cline encourages saving up and buying one single more expensive, better quality, and more ethically made piece of clothing.

What about people who simply cannot afford to buy that way? I'm not even in the lowest category for income and poverty for my city, but as I hunt for a new job I'm aware that I have one pair of work pants and maybe four shirts, which need to be washed after each wear. I need to purchase new clothing for any potential new job, and since I'm looking to supermarkets and fast food restaurants due to the closure of so many businesses... I can't afford to buy a nice pair of pants or a nice top for $20. I'll need fast fashion solutions because thrift store are closed at the moment and I'll have maybe $20 total to spend on clothes for the next six to twelve months.

I couldn't help thinking to myself that there are people in worse financial situations than myself in the United States who will have to resort to fast fashion because they can't afford a sewing machine, can't afford higher quality garments, and can't afford the transportation and cost of going to a seamstress or tailor. I realize that Cline's ideal audience is the consumer she herself was, but I had been somewhat hoping that by the end of the book she'd touch on people so heavily hit by recessions, like the one in 2008, that cheap and low quality clothing is the only clothing accessible to them.


message 3: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments You are making a very good point Catherine.

In a world with huge gap between countries, buying eco-friendly and fair trade products it's a rich person's problem.

I was thinking about it, the issue is the price of the "good" clothes compare to the "crapy" ones. One thing that could be done is demanding fees from huge companies who manufacture polluting goods and to invest that money into small companies (to help them to develop and lower their price) and to donate that money to poor households. I know it's against free market but free market and related systems have showed they were against equality and human beings. On the other who would do that, no idea, history showed us bad outcomes with similar intentions... tough topic.


message 4: by Heather (new)

Heather (dorothysout) I think it's also important to consider the individuals motivation for buying any item of clothing. If you've worn though your last pair of Jean's and can only budget for a pair from H&M that is just an individual living within their means. I haven't finished the book yet but so far the discussion is more specifically focused on individuals who habitually shop at fast-fashion retailers as a past time when it is well within their means to invest in more sustainable products and shop less frequently. Whatever your budget, practicing conscious consumption by only purchasing things you need, when you need them, or things that add value to your life is arguably the way forward.


message 5: by Annie (new)

Annie | 44 comments I think that touches on some of the nefarious aspects of poverty too, Heather. Limited means restricts your options , which continues the cycle of poverty.

If you don't have much; you can't necessarily save for better clothes. When you need a pair of pants, you need a pair of pants. But you're getting poor quality, so you may have to go back and buy another pair of pants because they ripped/ fell apart or something/ far more frequently than if you could afford the better quality option. You may actually be spending more over the course of the year than you would be if you could save up for one big purchase.

And I think that's why the push for some basic mending or sewing skills. If you can wait a little longer or hold out... You won't be as easily trapped into buying low quality goods


message 6: by Cecilia (new)

Cecilia | 9 comments One thing that has really stuck with me from the beginning of the book is how much people buy because of the price. I didn’t realize that I did this before, but I buy things that I don’t need all the time because they are on sale or less expensive. I try to reason with myself by saying I might need it in the future. People, including myself, need to stop shopping as a hobby or because there’s a sale and just buy what they need. If you buy more than you need or than you have space for, you’re automatically more likely to throw away more things. I think this book is really important for people to read because it highlights a lot of aspects of the way we live that aren’t sustainable.


message 7: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments I think I'm not mistaken telling you, that Emma shared something about that subject on her Instagram, it was a survey about how dirty is your closet and the footprint of it...

ThredUp survey

ThredUp is a leader in second hand fashion in the USA and Canada, It's a cheaper way to reduce your closet carbon footprint and it's a good way to buy cheaper fashion goods. I think it's a good solution to start reducing your carbon footprint and also buy cheaper quality products because it recycle products instead of throwing them in the trash.

I took the survey and I'm 60% under the average carbon footprint, and you did you take it?


message 8: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Even though survey may look good this one is superficial.
There so many parameters to take into account. The survey lack of transparency.

How do they calculate the carbon footprint? How do they make the different between clothes quality (I mean greener clothes, and fair trade clothes)? What is the water footprint and the ecological footprint?

That's a start for sure, but such survey fail to address the entire problem and gives an unaccurate results. Scientists and researchs have not found good tools to evaluate the entire impact of products/behaviours, the best current method is Life Cycle Analysis (which is quite limited) and such survey is miles aways from LCA.

Sorry, I hope I don't look too direct or too sharp :s it's just too many people create surveys, tools that do not work and give wrong information. There are never references and works to support those tools and studies.

However, it makes people more sensitive to their impact, at least, this a positive point :)

To sum up my point of view, those tools/surveys are not reliable at all and may (in some cases) be used for greenwashing but people get more aware of their impact on the environment which is good :)


message 9: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments Florian wrote: "Even though survey may look good this one is superficial.
There so many parameters to take into account. The survey lack of transparency.

How do they calculate the carbon footprint? How do they m..."


Hey, I like your comment ! More informations about the calculation would have been appreciated for me too.

I was trying to bounce off the current discussion about the fact that eco fashion is for the rich people. With ThredUp you don't have to be rich because it's second hand fashion, and it 's supposed to diminish your foot print because the clothes have already been made and that will neutralize creating new clothes foot print.

I do believe it's only a tool of marketing to make people feel guilty about their footprint and go buy on the website. Was quite fun to take it, I guess average numbers given by the web about fashion foot print does contribute to calculate.


message 10: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 11 comments While I am still reading this book, I have a few brief comments. First, I am not an expert on this topic, so from my perspective, Elizabeth L. Cline has provided a thoroughly researched, organized, and well-written book on the topic of cheap fashion. While I appreciate the expertise, I'm finding this book difficult to read due to the detached, almost clinical evaluation. I'll keep pushing through. Second, I've noticed that my reaction is either of indifference, discomfort, or frustration.

1. Indifference because fashion (fast or otherwise) has never really mattered to me. However, it would be nice to find someplace to buy quality clothing that will last. Perhaps I'll get an education on that as I continue to read.

2. Discomfort because the main narrative is no stranger. There is a strong, dominate connection between how the perspective of a few can shape social constructs and create a division of economic power. (reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point)

3. Frustration because this is another example of the universal theme, "us versus them" and the impact that theme has on humanity and the earth. (I'm assuming here that at some point Ms. Cline will discuss the impact of cheap fashion on the earth. So far I've seen it hinted at in the chapter on Fast Fashion.)

I bring this up because, if I've learned anything from this book club, it's that the more visceral my reaction, the better the message. While I might not be enjoying this book, absorbing the message has value.


message 11: by Cecilia (new)

Cecilia | 9 comments I agree Kristina, I’m also finding the book a little bit hard to read although I definitely think the message needs to be widely known if we’re going to make a change in the way we do things. I’m glad you pointed this out.


message 12: by Elena (new)

Elena | 2 comments I really liked the first half of the book, the second part I found it a little... well, too specific but I might be wrong considering how long ago I read it (over a year).

As someone said here, it does consider the poverty of the workers in the fast fashion industry, but it certainly does not consider it when it comes to the buyer.
What I liked of this book though is that it makes you realize that the Company selling you something (literally anything from whatever area on the market) at the lowest price is not always the most honest among the ones selling the same item (or that the one selling it at the higher price is not always dishonest for doing it!). Just because someone sells it at a cheaper price doesn't mean that's the real value of what you are buying... it just means they are probably better at playing with the laws just enough to make it all legal... or illegal, but they are better at hiding it! Not all fast fashion Companies work this way (some can lower their prices due to high rate of their production, this way they can get discounts on fabrics and accessories), they are not what's wrong with this world... but this book certainly gives you a better perspective on what you are buying.

(Pardon my grammar, I'm not an English native speaker)


message 13: by Elena (new)

Elena | 2 comments I'm sorry, I want to clarify that in my previous comment "they are not what's wrong with this world" was actually meant to be "there's a lot of fast fashion Companies that play by the rules and employ tons of people... so NOT ALL OF THEM are what's wrong with this world".
Just to be clear :)


message 14: by BookwormBelle (new)

BookwormBelle | 4 comments How were you all able to get your hands on a copy of this book? I’m fascinated by this topic and would like to read. I’ve been struggling to get books that this group recommends. Any suggestions for book websites or just Amazon? I’m not sure how much longer my local library will be closed due to this pandemic.


message 15: by Kathi (new)

Kathi | 2 comments Elena, your English grammar is very, very good!


message 16: by BookwormBelle (new)

BookwormBelle | 4 comments I was finally able to read this book! I really wanted to see some tips on how to pick out the well-made quality clothing from the flimsy clothing. I know the author touched on the subject. Seeing as so little of the clothing ever made is actually well made from a professional seamstress, I would totally do more independent research on sustainable companies that make great quality clothes.

Although this was written six years ago, this book is still relevant to today’s consumerism. It’s definitely a hard pill to swallow that there isn’t an easy solution to all of the waste that factories and even consumers have generated.


message 17: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
While reading Overdressed my mind kept going back to the movie "the Devil Wears Prada" where fashion executive Miranda chides her young assistant Andy that just because a person shops at bargain store does not mean that they're exempt from the billion dollar fashion industry.

I'm not creative with clothing. I'm definitely a utilitarian dresser that stems from an athletic build that never seems to quite fit the current look and a childhood with multiple older siblings meant that I'm really comfortable with second hand stuff. Any new purchases I make are ones I dread and agonize over. I'm also someone who, while I have a Kohl's card, I find that the quality is lackluster leading me to use the card more for house stuff and gift giving than on clothing.

So it was really refreshing to take a deeper dive into something I tolerated more than appreciated. It was quite surprising how much my desire for inexpensive clothing drove the industry to lackluster quality and moving overseas. I never thought I had a part of the industry as I didn't give in to it. The good news is that as I am a driving force behind Fast Fashion, so to can I be part of the Slow Fashion movement: shopping less, buying better quality but more expensive clothes, or opt to making them myself.

And with COVID, I have become very familiar with my sewing machine while making masks that I think I might actually tackle a project or two. I'll have to put down a book to do so... but I suppose that is why audio books are a thing. :)


Now... how does this fit with my brand of eco-feminism... I'm paying attention a lot more to the clothing I have and the waste I'm producing. Not just with cloth but plastics in general. I am looking more into the zero waste movement than ever before.

What about you?

What did you think?
How does this book feed into your brand of eco-feminism


message 18: by Florian (last edited May 31, 2020 09:35AM) (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Personnaly, the COVID crisis pull me away from reading. I don't know whether it's because I spent days lockdown not being able to go outside or spending hours in front of my computer for work. I actually felt I did not want to read theory or anything else, I wanted to practice what I learnt. So, I did not continue overdressed. I don't know whether I'll finish it or not, I feel I already know what's in there and what I read felt like "deja vu".

I started to cook more (when I was not vegan I used to cook a lot but as I changed my alimentation I lost all of my basics and I had to restart from almost nothing). With my mother, who is not vegan, we started to experiment preparing new dishes. Now I rarely buy manufactured food, I mainly buy basics like vegetables, fruits, flour and I tend to make most of my main dishes from scratch. I think my waste from food industry (packaging) is 1 carton of 1.5L orange juice, the soya milk packaging and one or two other item per week.
Not perfect, but I'm really happy to be able to reach that. I hope by doing that I give a little tiny insignifiant minutes of contributions to help out the environnent.


message 19: by Vi (new)

Vi ✨ being infinite (tanviohol) | 13 comments This book was eye opening. It gave me a lot of insight on how the consumer culture works.
Somewhere between reading it, I was reminded of the Crazy Rich Asians,the real ones. They make the most money out of the fashion industry. But how the shame that sometimes targets us when we buy cheap clothes and then look at their clothes was explained.

It told me how the fast fashion industry, so called affordable clothes and trying to catch up with trends can be problematic. It shows how clothes with higher prices dont necessarily mean better quality.

I think this book has inspired me to put more time in clothing as the consumer industry can make profit out of not doing that.


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