Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

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 storage bins packed full of low-quality fads she barely wore—including the same sailor-stripe tops and fleece hoodies as a million other shoppers. When she found herself lugging home seven pairs of identical canvas flats from Kmart (a steal at $7 per pair, marked down from $15!), she realized that something was deeply wrong.

Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenney now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. Retailers are pro­ducing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. After all, we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.

But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?

In Overdressed, Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retail­ers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China, follows the fashion industry as it chases even lower costs into Bangladesh, and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how cheap fashion harms the charity thrift shops and textile recyclers where our masses of cloth­ing castoffs end up.

Sewing, once a life skill for American women and a pathway from poverty to the middle class for workers, is now a dead-end sweatshop job. The pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce detail and craftsmanship, making the clothes we wear more and more uniform, basic, and low quality. Creative inde­pendent designers struggle to produce good and sustainable clothes at affordable prices.

Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, refash­ioning clothes throughout their lifetimes, and mending and even making clothes themselves.

will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear.

Title:Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion Reviews

  • Jaclyn Day

    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 o...

  • Renee

    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 ...

  • Heidi

    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 cl...

  • Jane

    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 thi...

  • Cristina

    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 ...

  • Sleepless Dreamer

    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...

  • Eustacia Tan

    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 fashionI remember reading a book like this before. It was about ...

  • Trena

    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) ...

  • Prashanthini Mande

    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 w...

  • Claudia

    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 bo...