Book Review: Overdressed

4:00 PM


            Spring cleaning went a little differently for me this year; to start, I waited until late July to finally tackle the task. But it also came on the heels of the release of Elizabeth Cline’s new book, Overdressed: The Shocklingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. As I sorted through mountains of t-shirts and those sweaters Mom bought with the best intentions, I noticed a trend. True to the trends discussed in Overdressed, many of the items in the “donate/toss” pile were from the same stores: Old Navy, H&M, Forever 21, and the like. Come to think of it, much of the stuff that ends up in the annual “donate/toss” pile typically comes from retailers like these.

Since I finished reading Overdressed I have certainly reevaluated how I shop, where I shop, and what I spend. In fact, Cline got me so riled up I resisted buying any clothing not made in the USA for over a month. Never before has a book led me to change my life and reevaluate my habits in such a dramatic way. Even Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, while eye-opening and informative, left me craving bacon. Well researched and informative, Overdressed really does its best to inform readers about what they neglect to ask. A Kate Spade associate looked a bit flabbergasted when I inquired about the production origin of a $400+ handbag, he meekly replied, “I think they’re made in China…”
The great thing about this book is that it stays with you. I have dozens of selections highlighted throughout my e-book, have since had numerous conversations about consumer habits, quality, and marketing, and have even brought the discussion to work. It’s a discussion we need to have. It’s not only the quality of fast-fashion goods that suffer, but of all products. I've certainly had my share of encounters with the corporate customer service of at least two high-end luxury brands (and a very unfortunate experience with Furla), and a whole slew of quality related returns at mall retailers requiring me to speak to numerous managers and supervisors to bring their attention to the deteriorating quality of their garments.
Cline was my guiding light during the Prive sample sale I shopped in New York City’s Chelsea Market. Just the words “sample sale” stir up excitement, and in my excitement I was making grabs for every cute dress, top, and a pair of each J. Brand‘s available in a size 25. As I made my way to the fitting room, arms full, I knew I need to whittle things down. With Overdressed still fresh in my mind I start searching for tags; fabric, country of origin, care instructions. After whittling out all of the polyester, acrylic, made in Indonesia, and flimsy feeling fabrics, I was left with a modest selection of items with 100% silk, quality fabrics, and all but one, Made in the USA.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in fashion, consumerism, and sustainability as well as for those looking to curate a timeless quality wardrobe. 

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