I Finally Read “Over-Dressed”

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap FashionAnd, I felt kind of depressed. And have spent the weekend obsessively cleaning out my closets, drawers and basement. I live alone in a three bedroom house and there is stuff in each of those rooms. I want to get down to the things I need. Not just the stuff I want. And, less stuff.

Instead of reviewing the book (there are many many good reviews out there) I’d like to share a slightly related anecdote. My Goodreads ‘review’ is posted at the end.

As people moved away from making their own clothes, general public knowledge of garment construction faded. Though the connection is not entirely direct, the loss of sewing skills happened in tandem with the public accepting simpler and simpler fashions, until today — where we have collectively accepted the two-panel knit creation that is aT-shirt as fashion. — Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline

I share this qoute because I once had a first date. We were meeting for coffee at a popular brunch spot in fashionable neighborhood in downtown Baltimore on a Sunday morning. He came wearing a tee-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops. Full disclosure — I generally don’t like flip flops. They aren’t shoes. But, it was the T-shirt that stuck with me. We dated for a few months and I eventually brought up the fact that he wore a T-shirt on our first date. His reasoning was it had a (chest) pocket, therefore it was a shirt. Plus, it was a casual morning first date. I’ll abstain from drawing correlations between the effort he put into dressing for our date and the effort he put in to the relationship. But, I submit to you that a T-shirt is not a first date  ‘outfit’!

“That men walk around in T-shirts and elastic waistband pants has very definitely impacted the notion of what fashion is and contributed to the race to the bottom.”  — Anthony Lilore, a 30 year vet of the fashion industry.

Hear, Hear!!

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 in the same clothes over and over and the vast majority spalid on the floor had never been worn. Throw on top that I find most of the clothes I see on people I know wearing to look patently inexpensive(thin, faded, pilled and pulled). This book explained to me how this came to be and how consumer culture changed when it comes to shopping.

I made a melton wool grey trench coat a few years ago. It’s double breasted, down to my ankles and lined with flannel back satin. It’s the warmest, best fitting garment I’ve ever made. It cost me $150. My good friend was shocked I would pay that much to make something when I could have bought a coat for less money and zero time. This coat, easily would have cost over $500 on *sale*. But, a poly / wool / acrylic coat for $90 made much more sense to her.

We live in a culture where we’ve forgotten that good quality items cost a lot of money. Period.

When I grew up, we shopped seasonally and for special occasions. In my 1930s home, the closets are the size of an outhouse. This book lays out how the expectations on the cost for clothes has changed and how the stores have catered to this. Now, people shop for entertainment and the clothes are inexpensive enough that we don’t think twice about buying it. Add on top of this the loss of shame over having ‘cheap’ clothes and we have a society that has more clothes than ever. This has changed the way our homes are built, the way we shop and the quality we expect.

This book is eye opening and I will never shop the same way again. Ever. I want my clothes to have value and meaning. I don’t want to contribute to this consumer culture where we spend more on a meal out than we will on a blouse! A blouse should last for years!

Sigh. I realize this isn’t a review, LOL. Read this book. It will change your thinking and they way you live. I’m only not giving it four out of five stars because the author talks about how we need to learn to identify good quality clothing. But, never really goes in to what the average consumer should look out for.

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65 thoughts on “I Finally Read “Over-Dressed”

  1. I 100% get you about the flip-flops (I mistakenly typed “flip-slops,” ha). They are the worst. Why do men wear them? They are barely tolerable on a well-manicured and groomed foot, and most men don’t think too much about manicuring and grooming. I remember being in Portland, OR airport and being horrified that every single man walked by in cargo-shorts, a grubby tee and flip-flops. I think it has something to do with the infantalization of men. They can get away with being “kids” indefinitely, so they dress the part.

    Every point you make here is so “on.” I calculated that my white coat was easily a $2,000 coat, given the time I put into it, and I’m guessing your coat would easily carry a hefty four figure price tag in a store.

    It makes me so sad when I see people OK with looking sloppy and worn and shoddy. And I’m flummoxed that people have bought into that false economy of buying shitty clothes rather than investing in meaningful pieces.

    • Another thing about growing up. My mom had all this beautiful lingerie she bought in England. They were expensive lacy things that were cherished. When I went to see her in the hospital last month, she STILL HAD the same pieces I grew up remembering. Think about it. She was wearing a nightie and lace robe that were over 40 years old.ll

      “And I’m flummoxed that people have bought into that false economy of buying shitty clothes rather than investing in meaningful pieces.”

      Sing it sister. Surrounded by a sea of shitty shitty clothes.

  2. I know my handmade clothes are like old friends and some are ten years old or more and still in rotation. My daughter doesn’t sew, but she likes quality. She buys nice things and has them altered.She likes vintage. She has a ten year old Stella McCartney coat that is still beautiful that I altered for her-people stop her on the Metro platform and try to buy it. She wears silk skirts that I made for her for a fraction of what they would cost. I think once you know good clothes,you can’t wear the cheap ones. It’s like the difference between home made food and fast food. Once you bake your own bread, and make your own broth,you know the real thing and can’t have the fake stuff as any more

    • I’ve really started to embrace vintage coats and sweaters. I just can’t find that quality in the stores anymore. I definitely used to sew ‘just for fun’. but, now I sew with passion for my clothes. I do remember being surprised at how inexpensive ‘cheap’ clothes were when I would go shopping. But, now I understand why. I just am starting to think the average consumer can neither find nor discern quality clothing. People tell me ALL the time they like my wool coat. But, I don’t think they see ‘quality’ per se. They see something that they don’t see in the stores now.

      “Once you bake your own bread, and make your own broth,you know the real thing and can’t have the fake stuff as any more”

      So true and well said!

  3. For sure. As a housewife in SoCal, my need for dressy clothes – or wool clothes – is minimal. But even I can get a good bit of use out of a seriously awesome denim skirt – and a nice cotton blouse is going to get worked to *death*. This is worth a bit more money on materials. And my denim and cotton items fit properly and look good wear after wear after wear.

    The silk nightie that I sewed for myself? Well, I sleep in that thing half of the nights (I have another one that I switch out) and it’s past a year old now. The extra cost of using real silk totally paid for itself (plus silk breathes, unlike polyester).

    For those of us thinking of the more consumer aspect – consider shoes. Are you buying real leather in styles that will last? Or plastic and something that will be out of style next month?

    • You are totally right. On my list this summer are silk pajamas and nice cotton blouses (this is on my list every year!). You raise a really good point on shoes. I have a terrible time buying them and am not sure what I should be looking for. I do try and buy only leather, but don’t know what else to look for (if I need wood heels, how to see if the soles are attached, etc.) I would happily pay more money for shoes that will last for years with repairs than stuff that’s not worth the fix.

      Oh, I have friends who have bags of those disposable Forever 21 and H&M ballet flats. I can feel the pebbles on the ground when I wear them!

      • I have a bad foot so I have to get good shoes. You want shoes that make your feet feel happy to be in them! My next goal is to buy a few extra pair so I can rotate them the way you’re supposed to.

        Sad but true – I had to order leather shoes for my 8yo from the internet because I couldn’t find any dressy leather shoes in town. They were all pleather. And only one shop had leather tennies.

        Good news on the cotton blouses – a sleeveless blouse is only about a yard of fabric!

  4. 1.5 years ago, I went out with a guy who wore a wrinkled polo shirt that looked stained and a pair of wrinkled dockers. I was dressed to impress, yet he was not. Needless to say, we didn’t date much more after that because his effort to get to know me matched his effort on day one.

    I already shared many of Cline’s assertions about consumerism and have cut back on many things. If I move this year, my car is the next to go. I am even thinking of becoming vegan.

    • Yay for you!! It was reading about the *amount* of animal products we ate that made me give up meat and frequently eat vegan. After this car is paid for, I don’t think I’ll be buying another.

  5. Thank you for this thoughtful response to the book, it’s the first time I’ve felt inspired to read it.
    My winter dressing gown is a floor-length red wool one that my mother made for my grandmother. I would guess it’s 30+ years old now.
    It amazes me that it spans three generations of my family.

  6. There are a few things that I prefer to buy rather than make (jeans, bras), but the VAST majority of my wardrobe is sewn by me. I have jackets that I made back in the 1990s that I still wear, and that will probably outlive me. Once I went into a Forever 21 to look for a gift for my friend’s teenaged daughter, and it was simply depressing. The crappy quality and the masses of things that people were buying put me off. I walked out of there and have never gone back.

    • I’m totally fine buying RTW jeans. Especially because I’ve found ones that work for me. I would like to know more information about my jeans going forward (weight of the denim). Bras… I’m still trying to make my own (because I want prettier than I can find). But, accept that I’m not there yet. I used to call F21 ‘the Teenage Mom Store’. It makes me skin crawl when I go in. Craptastic stuff everywhere. I was there a few weeks ago trying to buy a last minute nightgown. If you’re in that position again, it sounds like Zara has the best of the lot. They also produce in a factory in Spain so they have a quick turnaround.

  7. SUCH a great post.

    i struggle with this. so often i need to look a certain way for an audition (hoochie mama…doctor…whathaveyou) and it’s so easy to run to The Beasts and pick up the right (extremely cheap, in every sense of the word) shirt for the character. then of course i have piles of little trendy things that i can’t get rid of until the next year, when i need to replace them as the trends change, and feel like a heel all over again.

    i’d really like to start making the classic staples i need for these occasions. just made a black pencil skirt… but man, it’s hard for me to sew staples. i have a feeling reading this book might give me the kick in the rear i need.

    • One thing about trends. The author claims that trends are harder to discern now because they are so quick. Because the shops adds new merchandise between daily and every two weeks (with sales on old stuff on ten day to two week cycles) to get you in the store, they have to constantly change little details / trends. And, because they have to make SO MUCH to fill all the stores (and most don’t design. The factories sell to them) that trends are more homogenous.

      I don’t quite agree with that…maybe we pay more attention to ‘fashion’ because we sew. I think my sewing take away isn’t ‘staples’ but sewing what *I* like instead of sewing what I think makes me look ‘on trend’. This (per the book) helps you develop your actual style and be set apart.

      My weakness now though is cheap jewelry! LOL! I grew up not being allowed to wear it and I can’t stop myself from indulging in For Love 21 :)

      Oh! One last thing. When I was in high school, we shared clothes ALL THE TIME in the dorm. No one had a ton of clothes and we had to get dressed up twice a week. So, we shared. The author says people don’t even share now because it’s so cheap and easy to just go and get what you need.

      • We used to share clothes all the time in college, too. Any time someone needed to dress up, if she couldn’t borrow a dress or skirt, at the very least she could grab a pair of shoes or a belt or something to look like she had a new outfit. But so many of the cheap clothes can’t withstand normal wear, so after they’ve been worn a couple of times, no one would want to borrow them!

      • I think you’re on to something regarding sewing and being on trend. I sew for myself for a few reasons; first of all it’s a creative outlet and totally personally satisfying to me and me alone. I don’t sew because it’s cheaper. I also sew because I’m a hard fit and I want my clothes to fit me. I also want a certain look and sew what I like whether it’s in style or not. I’m not always ‘on trend’ but I’m comfortable and in a style that suits me. For me to be “on trend” I’ll often make up a knit top or two in the season’s colour. Great post! I haven’t read the book but I hope to. I’m teaching a high school Fashion class (I’m a Home Ec teacher) and it’s something I want to talk to my students about. Not sure they are ready for this message but we’ll see.

      • Yes! Sewing what I like is the whole point to me. I don’t care if its in style or not. I only care that I like it and its comfortable.

      • i especially identify with this idea about trends – sewing what we like automatically exudes a confidence a joie de vivre that overrides whatever is “trendy” and shows, as you say, real style.

        • yes– what happened to raiding each other’s closets…

          my problem is i want to sew what i like, not what’s trendy, but what i like to sew isn’t staples, so the staples i look for in my price range end up being cheaply made trendy things, because my budget stores ain’t makin classic with their two week turnovers.

          hmph. i know the answer to this problem. i just don’t WANT to know it.

        • @Oona- Look for a Charming Charlie’s in the area. Non-investment (read “cheap”) jewelry abounds!

  8. OK, I know that I sing out of the ‘quality not crap’ hymnal all the time but here is another issue, to be frank: I don’t buy RTW because… it’s boring. Now, I admit that I don’t have available – to me – shopping in NYC or any other large city, so I have malls that I can drive to but the stuff that is there is still… boring. No style. Nothing interesting. And certainly nothing from my ‘I could really use a xxxxx’ list. Add to that retailers who don’t train their people, don’t arrange departments so that things are easy to find, and don’t make sure their staffs actually know what they have on the racks and that is a recipe for me to not go shopping in stores anymore. It’s far easier for me to go fabric shopping, either in person or over the internet. When we went to Barcelona last fall, I had, in my purse, my ‘really could use a xxx’ list and the colors I need to coordinate and the names of a couple of fabric stores in Barcelona. My husband has gone shopping with me before – he knows what his role is (holder of bolts with the list of so many yards of this…so many yards of that one), while I move on. Shopping in stores? His eyeballs roll up into his head and after seeing me stand frustrated in front of a rack for 30 minutes and not come out with anything – he’ll invariably say something like, “you could make much nicer things than this!”

  9. Flip flops ARE NOT shoes! I would love to have a t-shirt (ha!) that says that but unfortunately, so many people would be offended. Remember when that group of accomplished (I don’t remember what for…) young women went to the White House wearing flip-flops and saw nothing wrong with that? Uggh, I still think of that and cry a little bit inside. A bejeweled strap between your bare toes does not make a suitable shoe in which to meet the President of the United States, chickee!

    I really want to read this book, but want to get it from the library, where it has been on waitlist since it arrived there. I guess I’m not the only cheap girl out here.

  10. I think we’ve really lost the art of dressing and caring for clothes. As annoying as it is to see a dude in cargo shorts and a tee shirt for a first date (which I’ve totally seen, too), I’ve remarked many times to my hubs that I would rather see someone in a clean, neat tee than in a rumply, poorly-fitting buttondown and khakis. I see so many people, especially men, in clothing that desperately needs to be ironed, cleaned, and/or taken in, and it infuriates me! It doesn’t take much effort to look like, well, you put in an effort! But if you don’t, your clothing makes you seem lazy, unprofessional, and a big hot mess, even if you aren’t!

  11. YES YES YES!!! I am so pleased to know that people are starting to move back toward fewer, but better quality, items, I think it’s been a long time coming. My grandmother had this gorgeous black wool dress from the 50’s or 60’s that I wore whenever I was required to dress up as a teen-she and I were of similar build, and it made any jewelry or shoes you wore with it look expensive. That dress was old even in the 80’s but it never failed to make me feel sleek and elegant, and I always got compliments when I wore it. It draped itself over me like it was in love, and I never forgot just how wonderful good quality clothes feel on your body. I have of late started really studying my body type and shape, looking for the most flattering designs for that shape and type, and putting some effort into “slow sewing”-making things out of good fabric, taking all the time it needs to fit things properly, and finishing things properly. I don’t want a closet full of “meh”, I want a closet with staying power. Nothing, however trendy, is going to look good in it does not flatter and doesn’t hold up. I absolutely must read this book, clearly! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  12. Having read your post and all the comments made I find myself nodding in agreement. These are the thoughts I have had for many years. Before I re-started making my own clothes again I shopped in Charity shops for well made, good quality nearly new items. I once got a Jasper Conran jacket for 50p! It looked as if it had never beeny worn. This wasn’t because I was poor or tight with money – like Toby I was just BORED with all the rubbish in RTW. Now I make what I like to wear and it fits. People think the economy will suffer if we avoid the chain stored and cheaper shops, but perhaps we will turn our minds back to quality rather than rubbish in great quantity. Love your blog BTW – and your style.

    • You’ll love this detail then. The book says that the vendors overseas add all bits of trim (ribbons, grommets, patches) to distract people from the quality of the garments. And, I started thinking about how clothes now have all this STUFF all over them. The author says the economy will in fact improve if we are willing to pay for quality garments because we will pay a living wage which helps employ more people. Plus, if designers don’t have to order 100,000 pieces to stay competitive, smaller designers will be able to manufacture in the western world and sell their clothes at a quality good rate.

      Another thing she said which I never knew, that department stores used to have different buyers for each *branch*. So it wasn’t the same thing in every place you went.

  13. Ditto to all the above comments! Though I’ve never heard of this book, so thank you for bringing it to my attention! I’ll definitely be finding a copy, especially with an up and coming teen that I want to sew for- and I want her to want me to, if you know what I mean! Even without reading this book, I like that I have changed form ‘buy buy buy’ in the stores to ‘nah, I can do better’ haha. Or, “i have that pattern, and it’s obviously ‘trendy’ so i’ll make that next’! I also ‘thrift’ shop a lot, so I feel better knowing the cheaper stuff gets a 2nd life with, and is often then cut up and added to the stash of fabric!

    • You gotta suck them in while they are young! People used to say admiringly they could tell I made my clothes because they had’t seen it in a store before. That might be the thing that sells her :)

  14. I don’t sew but I can darn and repair – thank you high school. That said, I save my money and buy one good quality piece that I will wear for years. I clean my closets out once a year and found that I was getting rid of the H&M, Gap and Joe Fresh stuff. I was keeping the designer (bought on deep sale) stuff which I was wearing all the time.

    I have a wool dress that must be ten years old now and I still wear it every winter. I also take my clothing to my seamstress to have them repaired and/or altered.

    I also haunt consignment stores – I can’t believe what people get rid of!

    • I am so sad home ec isn’t taught anymore! I wish sewing machines were considered just another tool in your house like an iron or a drill. The book says you don’t have to sew. But, notes that being able to repair or taking your clothes to a tailor is the way to give them lasting life. Your’e doing all the right things!

      • You know this is the only place, the ONLY one, that I thought the book feel down. Sewing is not only an alternative (the most reliable and feasible alternative) but the modicum of sewing skills puts you in such better stead to choose clothing if you decide you want to buy (which most likely you won’t when you see the poor quality of the clothing and the poor quality of assembly). It seemed like the author gave sewing one chance and that was it. This is a little like driving: if I would have gauged by ability to drive for the rest of my life by the first couple of times I drove a car, I wouldn’t be driving today, or would I have taken on learning how to drive. I knew that driving was a life skill that I was going to need to get to work, to travel, to run errands. It’s just a shame that sewing still lives under that terrible stigma of the 50’s & 60’s in which to “prove” you were a liberated woman, you had to be the antithesis of a seamstress. It just seems today if you want to prove just how liberated and individual you really are, you should be sewing!

  15. This book is on my nightstand. Thank you for prodding me to read it! After returning to sewing nearly 3 years ago, I buy very little clothing. It doesn’t fit me, and it’s so cheaply made…there’s no reason to dress like that. And I believe in quality rather than quantity. I want what I sew to last, so I use only the best fabrics. It would be cheaper to buy ready to wear, but I look much better in garments I’ve made!

  16. Great post. I read this book recently too, and although it is depressing, I felt good about the fact that I am able to make clothing for myself and put in the time to make it well. I still remember a post on the Dress a Day blog several years ago where she called cheap clothes “soulless”. Her description of throwaway fashions has stuck with me. I still have the dress my mom made for me to wear to the prom (it’s a simple sheath dress, not a fluffy confection :)…it still looks good almost 20 years later and I just wore it to a holiday party. That dress definitely has a soul!

  17. Oh Misss Celie, you are preaching to the choir here! Being a dressmaker I feel your pain and I suffer looking at cheap and nasty stuff filling the shop shelves. I can’t call that clothes. And I detest flip flops. yuk

  18. I’m not a fan of flip flops on men. However, if that is going to happen anyway, I think they should be strongly encouraged to get/do regular pedicures.

    I haven’t read the book, but I tend to think that this country (U.S.) has a kind of sickness almost, an over-consumption disease. I think of how many clothes I owned as a kid, and it wasn’t that much — a weeks worth of school clothes, play clothes, and maybe one nice dress. That was it. (My mom made most of them and she probably had fewer outfits than me). I see the problem as having begun in the 1980s with the designer logo madness. That was also about the time when the outlet and overstock stores started popping up. You could get three pairs of Calvins for the price of one pair at regular retail…

    • Yep. The author talks about designer clothes. Once celebrity culture took over, designers became household names and it became about the name and not the quality. On top of that, they became publically traded companies and had to show more and more profit each year (therefore needing to cut costs).

  19. I’ve also just read Overdressed. It’s certainly worth a read.
    I’m with you, I’d rather spend out on something I would wear for years, that fits me and makes me feel good than spend less money on lots of stuff that looks like rubbish after a few wears and just doesn’t go the distance.
    The thing that really gets me is that we are supposedly so much better off because clothes are so inexpensive now..but in general people are so badly dressed! And our wardrobes and landfill groan with stuff. What has been the gain here? Ditto cheap unhealthy food (hello obesity epidemic) , and my favourite – cheap appliances. You know – washing machines that you end up sending to landfill within five years, because it just isn’t economically viable to fix it, and it so cheap to buy a new one.
    I get so mad!

    • I feel you on the appliances. I went through two inexpensive mixers that died before I coughed up the money for a KitchenAid. And, I went through a phase where I wanted a fancy washer and dryer just because. Yet, I’m lucky that the ones in my house that are 20+ years old work just fine!

  20. My issue with cheap clothing isn’t so much to do with quality, or style (or lack thereof!) – its the thought of the virtual slave wages that the workers who produce this clothing must be paid. I can imagine people in third world countries being exploited working in sweat shops, just so we can buy ‘cheap’ clothes.
    It’s also the environmental cost – clothing is no longer locally produced, as local manufacturers can’t compete price wise – so clothing is produced oversas and is transported across the globe – how many ‘carbOn miles’ is that?
    And finally it encourages a whole ‘disposable clothing’ mentality, & encourages wastefulness and rampant consumerism.
    And I admit that I am guilty of buying cheap clothes I don’t need – but I am trying to break myself of the habit!

    • You are so right about the worker’s. For me it wasn’t the wages they were talking about in the book. It was the conditions of the factories and the environmental pollution outside of the US to supply our clothing habit.

  21. People in the US and most every where else wants/demands cheap junk, whether it be clothing or a dishwasher. I have made a promise to myself to sew my own clothing and only purchase thrift store items to either refashion or wear straight away.

  22. I have made up my mind to never buy a blouse again. After working at Macy’s I am appalled at the poor construction and poor fit of manufactured clothing. I find myself pitying people who never had the chance to learn how to make their own clothes. I’m with you on the downsizing, as I unpacked from a trip today I laughed at the fact that I went all week with three pairs of shoes while there is a pile in my closet. Our condo was furnished with all the basics and we got along just fine. We Westerners think we have to have everything! Now to convince my hubby who has a mild hoarder problem.

  23. I have difficulty convincing myself that quality clothing fits into my lifestyle. I know i am worth it, but when you are retired and do not need “work clothes” any longer, it is easy to get into the Target mode of buying things to lay about the house and go to the gym. I have moments when I feel quite strongly that I deserve quality clothes at these moments as well. These are the moments of my life now, why would I want to look frumpy? I am concentrating on trying to make some quality staples for my lifestyle that flatter my figure and make me feel confident at my age. Why shouldn’t I have clothes that make me feel good? I admit that I have not found a resource that helps me understand how to take care of these quality pieces. I love finding a good garment or even shoes in vintage stores. I bought a black cashmere coat once that was the best coat I ever owned. This book has been on my list. It seems I will have to bump it up. Thanks for this post!

  24. Oh, the t-shirt. I take it a step further and express outright (outright!) disgust whenever I go out with a man who wears barrel cuffs. I am basically a crazy person, but all I can think is, “When did you give up on yourself?”

    I feel like the problem is not just one of following fashions or not appreciating quality, but rather that we make the whole affair of looking decent sound so strenuous. The wardrobe building requires thought, but it takes just as much time to put on sweats as it does to throw on something a bit more polished.

  25. I found both this book, and Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas, really helpful in understanding how we shop now and why, and the damage our habits are doing from a variety of perspectives. Reading them back-to-back, though, was a bit depressing! You might enjoy this complementary take on our fast-fashion world.

    Beyond working to build clothing that fits and will last, what I am struggling with is what to do with clothing that is no longer useful…to anyone. For instance, I have about 4 pairs of jeans that my husband has worn out. I need to get rid of them. Can’t give them away, and am made a bit sick by just throwing them in the landfill. I’d like to give them to a textile recycler who could do something with them, recapture some of the resources that went into growing and processing the cotton, and making the denim, etc. rather than just letting it all rot in a landfill. If anyone has info along these lines, I’m all ears!

    • HI :) Do you have GOODWILL or SALVATION ARMY STORES in your area? They take ANY type of clothing or household linens, even RAGS :) If it’s FABRIC, it can be baled and SOLD :) Ruined undies and socks, everything :) It’s GREAT :) Fabric becomes rags or PAPER :)

      • ABC news did a story not too long ago about what actually happens to the vast majority of Goodwill donations -sure they are baled but they aren’t recycled. Some 25% of what we donate is sold to international buyers who bale and ship the items to Africa where they profit from our charitable donations and flood African markets with American brands. What does this do to the local economy? What does it do to local craftsman and women?

        • I have lived in two African countries and can confirm that stacks of our clothing donations end up there— stacked in traffic circles or other open spaces where people paw through them and must pay for them again. It is also very sad to see people wearing our cast off t-shirts and jackets with imprinted profane or inane sentiments that have NO meaning in these places— assuming that they ever had meaning in their place of origin!
          I will say however that in Africa and other foreign places, a majority of people rely on tailor made clothes for their important outfits…

    • 100% cotton and linen can be chopped up and put in the compost pile.
      I can’t believe I just wrote that; I’ve bought some of my best clothes from thrift stores. (Knife-pleated black 100% wool gabardine skirt for $10, probably cost a couple hundred new. Gave it to the Church thrift store when I retired from my last office job.) But if Rosanne is correct . . . ugh, that’s a hidous thought. I had read, and believed, an article on the Organic Gardening website about how old clothes/underwear (even Spandex) was recycled into car-door-panel insulation and the like. Hope it’s true, I’ll still take some things to the thrift store when we move, but . . . .

  26. Just saw this post and I whole heartedly agree.
    It is something I find since I’ve started sewing and knitting, I do appreciate the price of properly made clothes and am willing to pay for them. A few years ago I spent a big amount of money on some brown brogues (£175) from a small shoe shop in Oxford. Yes, expensive but boy they are wonderful. Well made, they haven’t hurt my feet once and, if I keep up taking good care of them, should last a few good decades.
    You mention H&M, even a few years ago, albeit cheap, the clothes were not as crap as now (or have I become more discerned?). I have regretted buying a coat at Zara only to have the stupid lining rip along the seams. I will have to pull to apart to save it (and I will).

    Anyway, nice read. :)

  27. God, it was a depressing book, huh? It definitely opened my eyes to how excess shopping is really hurting everyone – makes you really think, when something is super cheap… who is paying for that? Someone has to pay for it!

    The whole quality argument drives me nuts. I hear a lot of people trying to defend the quality of their cheap clothing, and they rarely know what they are even talking about! Lots of “Well, this is well-made – it’s lined” and “This is so well-made, it’s held up for a couple of years!” Uhhh… a couple of years?? I have vintage pieces in my collection that are from the 30s, and they look newer than some of the stuff I see on the racks in the store (you know, shit that hasn’t even really been worn yet). THAT is well-made, not something that manages to last more than a season. And don’t get me started on ~expensive designer~ clothing that is made with POLYESTER. Yeesh!

    Also, I hate is so much when people wear flip-flops like they are some kind of fashion statement. Nope, sorry! Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

  28. Miss Celie, I am SO SORRY about ‘that guy’. I am older than you, I could have advised :) The LEAST the $^^)&%*$ could have done was wear a short-sleeved button front shirt. How HARD would that have been ? I am not a flip-flop fan. They are nice enough for hot summer wear for a meal, the beach or casual shopping. I REALLY don’t care for men wearing them unless it’s beachwear. I have customers who pay me alot to alter their GOODWILL and consignment store ‘finds’ :) Quality is just WONDERFUL to work with :) If you train your eye and touch, you can wander a rack in two minutes and spot the QUALITY fabric :) In a second-hand store quality fabric usually equals quality construction :) I rarely have time to make any clothing for myself. I alter my clothing :) My favorite shirts are MENS shirts. They are usually nice quality cotton fabric and well-made. I add darts to the back (sometimes the front) to fit the shape and shorten them. The sleeve length on a small mans’ shirt is PERFECT :) I have long arms. The breadth of the back leaves me room to MOVE :) I like to know what is in fashion. I do NOT feel obligated to buy it and wear it :) Classic styles will ALWAYS WIN :)

  29. I REALLY need to read this book. Thanks for posting about it and reminding me I need to get it :) And I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said!

  30. Back in the mid-80s, I bought a long, wool winter dress coat for $700 plus. Made in North America. Took me two and a half months to pay off on my VISA. In recent years I’ve wondered why I spent that much. But Over-Dressed explained that. And, the coat was really worth the investment. It’s still a stylish coat today and one that I still get compliments on.
    In the early 90s I switched professions so I wore more casual clothes during the week. Now I’m back to needing more dressy clothes. What did surprise me going back into office environments was NOT seeing the quality of clothing I remembered. Yes, there is a lot of crappy clothing out there.
    Thanks for reviewing OverDressed. Definitely a good book to read!

  31. I’m a little late to your post and this thread, but thank you for verbalizing what’s been running through my thoughts recently. I’ll read the book.

    ~Olgalyn

  32. Amen Sister,

    I usually do not comment too often(bad grammar, second language, too many non english degrees). This one I can’t resist. I have been sewing my own clothes for a few years now. I no longer have to fold my pants, staple them, or wear bad underwear. I am Brazilian, short, and curvy. So glad I read your post.

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