Book review: Over-Dressed

I upcycled/combined cashmere scraps and a too-small cashmere sweater today creating a ‘new’ sweater that fits.  One of the reasons I was motivated to play with sweater scraps is I just finished reading the book “Over-Dressed, the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline.

The over consumption of cheap goods has turned clothes into disposable items, which hurts the earth – and us –  in so many ways. She points out that most of the clothes now available through fast retailers are shapeless boring items made from cheap fabrics, and that items made before the 90’s (before we outsourced much of our fabric/clothing to factories in Asia) usually are better quality. True vintage items many times are of better quality still – but can be nearly as expensive as high fashion!

Near the end of the book she discusses the beginning of turning away from disposable fashion due to the higher cost of production, raw materials, and shipping. Some cloth and clothing production work is coming back to America. And just like the slow food movement (where people care about what they eat, shopping at local farmers markets, having gardens and backyard chickens, etc.) People are beginning to want quality clothing as well. Instead of buying a cheap fashion item a week (the average clothing purchase in America), people are beginning to look at their over-stuffed closets, take the things they don’t wear to free swaps, or donate to charity (there’s a whole chapter about how charity can’t use much of the stuff because it’s in such bad shape due to being cheaply made).

Consumers are also choosing to be picky about what they put back into their closets. People are looking for quality fabrics, choosing styles that are flattering on THEM instead of what is the ‘latest craze’ (what I’ve been preaching on Over 40 Fashions since 2009!) Consumers are bringing items that are high quality but just don’t fit them quite right to local tailors – who custom fit the item to their body.  Women (and men) are discovering that fine fabrics, fabulous fit, and a few choice things they love wearing are alot better than closets full of shapeless outdated poor quality items.  They also are discovering that by buying fewer, but quality items, they are encouraging local living-wage jobs, less waste, less transportation costs, industrial costs, garbage costs, etc.

Additionally, others are rediscovering sewing, knitting, and creative repurposeing skills, or seeking these skills for the first time through online tutorials or community college classes.  In the long run, we may end up spending the same amount of money – but with a much better return on our investment.

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