Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Laura Gayle + Fashionista
Cathi's Reader ReFash

A few of you have been asking me how you can learn more about fast fashion, and why I’m so very against it. I don’t frequently delve into this topic, but instead try to offer fun alternatives to Forever 21, H&M, Target, and the like.

I’m not here to preach. I’m not here to judge. As I state pretty clearly, I’m just here to change the way you think about fashion.

But for those of you who want to learn more about how cheap fashion has fundamentally changed all of our lives, and the lives of the people who make our clothing in an incredibly short period of time, I have a reading recommendation for you.

overdressed

Available on Amazon, this book by Elizabeth Cline breaks down the history of the rise of fast fashion and its effects on our environment, global economy, society, and well-being. Overdressed offers affordable alternatives to treating clothing as a disposable commodity, whether it’s creating your own, buying sustainable quality clothing, or simply taking the time to mend what you own when it’s damaged rather than throwing it away.

Cline in a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear!
Cline in a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear!

Cline wasn’t always a slow fashion advocate. Like many of us (including me), she once had a closet full of once-faddy threads that were purchased because they were “a deal” or because they were “on-trend”. When she realized she barely wore any of these items, many of which were clones of what everyone else was wearing, she began her research into why this obsession with fast fashion felt so wrong to her.

She traveled all over the US, China, and Bangladesh to get the real story of how our buy-and-toss mentality is shaping the world.

ReFashionista fans will be happy to see a cameo by yours truly. :)

I'm not 29 anymore...:'(
I’m not 29 anymore…:'(

I hope you’ll give Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion a read. It might help you be a more conscientious consumer.

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34 thoughts on “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

  1. Jillian, I thought you’d be happy to know that this book is required reading for all fashion students who attend Illinois State University whether they are merchandising majors or design majors! :) Our professors do a wonderful job of making us conscientious.

  2. Love this, Refashionista! If books aren’t your thing but your social justice vein is piqued, check out the documentary on Netflix called The True Cost. It’s harrowing! Especially the Bangaladeshi factories…

  3. YES! Read this book a few years back when it came back. My eyes were already partly opened before I read it, however. I used to work at a major thrift store (I won’t mention names here) and I can tell you stories – the amount of stuff I would see, how it’s processed and where it goes and the lot. I know we would send bales of clothing (that we couldn’t sell) to “Third World” countries. What I didn’t realize is that those countries actually *buy* the discarded clothes from us and the way the industry can wreak havoc on their economies and infrastructure.
    I became more aware of the injustices of the workplaces, of the thousands of deaths barely noted here. Rana Plaza was barely a blip on the radar for most people.

    And we continue to consume. We are programmed to consume.

  4. Great book; I read it a couple of years ago and is one of only 3 books I always keep in my library. I’m happy to see other recommendations for reading and viewing – some are new to me. You are a daily inspiration and I thank you!

  5. I never heard of the book, am British, however I am very well aware of the throwaway trend when purchasing clothing.
    Thankfully when I was able to work I preferred to buy three/four good pieces each year that would be added to my wardrobe and because they were quality they fitted in with what I had already purchased and I wasn’t following fashion or trends.
    I am lucky in some ways because I was born like that, I still prefer to purchase two or three really good quality cardigans, trousers, knitted tops, cotton blouses. It’s a blessing because I’m doing less harm to the environment but a curse because I can and do get bored with some of those items and I have to have the money to be able to purchase one good piece up front.
    Until I found out about you and your blog I assumed I was an oddity in that, no one in our family is like that lol!
    It’s so nice to see that you are very aware and gently pointing this out to others so the become aware of how bad the buy, wear, throw or donate is to our people, to others, and to our world. TFS Karen x

  6. I read this book a few years ago, and wow, was it an eye-opener. It changed my buying habits and made me far more aware of what I consume clothing-wise. I’m now sewing much more, and am doing lots more refashioning (I get bored with what I wear and like to wear “new-to-me” things). And I found your blog.

  7. I want to read this. I don’t like to shop, so I don’t buy a lot of clothing, but I’ve purchased a few things lately from the thrift store. I’m always there buying books. I’ve refashioned a couple of items, thanks to you, and trying to update my wardrobe without shopping.

    Thanks for all the ideas and helping us become educated consumers.

    http://buildinglifelongreaders.blogspot.com

  8. This book really opened my eyes and has changed the way I think and how I buy clothes. Thanks to finding your blog I look for ways to refashion what I have now.

  9. Throw away fashion is really synonymous with our throw away culture. Virtually almost every consumer product is driven by price, thus manufacturing and sourcing is cut to rock bottom prices, driven by what big box stores and the American consumer will bear. Our landfill is full of cheap, toxic materials. I hope there is finally a spotlight on the problem. It runs deep, and is a much more serious problem than most realize.

  10. I have not read the book or seen the movie yet. But I have been thrifting, wearing vintage, and making my own clothes for about 40 yrs now. :) The only thing I buy new is under garments. I love reading your blog and enjoy seeing your reashions. The word “refashion”puts a smile on my face. My husband has been using it a lot lately when I show him something I have just bought thrifting.(I have shown him many of your before/after shots :) “So, are you going to ‘refashion’ that sweater?”hahah

  11. I’ve been meaning to leave a comment on this book. I read it over two years ago and went on the “no buy for a year pledge with my daughter” and week before the Bangladesh disaster. I fell off the wagon twice (I wouldn’t even let me go to Thrift shop but I could make something so material purchases didn’t count and added a month for each indiscretion. That was a looooooong 14 months. Her book so called it right. People need to read it.

  12. Good book! That’s how I found your blog. I also recommend the book:Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell. It’s along the same lines but discusses many consumer goods and how we’re programmed to seek ‘deals’. A little tidbit. Ikea stores are not the good guys. They are major bad, destroying the earth’s resources a a rapid rate.

  13. After reading this blog entry, I ran to my local library to get this book. I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours. It’s an amazing, eye-opening read. The next day, we went to the mall and I couldn’t believe how differently I saw stores and shoppers. I was disgusted. I was even more saddened when I overheard a mother and daughter arguing over buying a new pair of jeans even though she had 6 new pairs in her closet already. Ugh!

  14. Thanks for the recommendation.
    I can also recommend The True Cost, a documentary on the clothing industry and fast fashion. These thoughts are why I bought my sewing machine and how I came upon your awesome refashions!
    I’m over 6 feet, so refashioning is not as easy for me, but hey, I can still do it!

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