Saturday, September 29, 2012

Overdressed- The book.

Lately I have been so busy, getting back on track with my work by playing catch up that I barely have any free time on my hands. More details later.

My dear friend Tamara from reciclaGem, have been telling me about this great book "Overdressed", she said it is beyond awesome.
The Book cover

So I did some research  and so far this is what I found online about the author and wanted to share it with you guys.
Elizabeth’s closet, with the 354 items of cheap clothing she accumulated before writing Overdressed. (Photo: Keri Wiginton)

Elizabeth L. Cline is a New York-based writer, editor, and author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Penguin Portfolio/2012). Cline holds a degree in Political Philosophy from Syracuse University and has written for the Daily Beast, New York magazine, The New Republic, Village Voice, GOOD, Etsy Blog,,, and many others. She is currently an editor for’s Blogs. Overdressed is her first book.

How did you get the idea to write Overdressed?

I infamously bought seven pairs of $7 shoes at a KMart in Manhattan. That moment got me to thinking about how buying loads of cheap fashion had quickly become an entrenched habit for me and for many other Americans. Gorging on cheap clothes is the new norm. Americans are now buying about 68 garments and 7 pairs of shoes per person per year as a country. In the span of one generation, clothing has gone from something very personal, locally-made and kept for years to a disposable good made in low-wage foreign factories. I wondered if what was happening to our economy was tied in any way to our consumer habits. Why wasn’t anyone writing about this? I really wanted to find out how clothing was turned into a throwaway commodity and, aside from the obvious environmental and human rights consequences of buying so much cheap clothes, I wanted to know what we’d lost in terms of our relationship with and knowledge of clothes. In other words, how have quality, design, and self-expression been compromised in the age of cheap fashion.

How did you research Overdressed?
I had never written about fashion or the clothing retail industry, and so I wrote the book as a consumer/journalist learning about this commodity I’d somehow become completely detached from. I interviewed garment factory workers and owners, clothing designers at big companies like Gap and Forever 21, production and sourcing experts, and quality control analysts. But I knew I wouldn’t get the complete picture unless I went overseas to factories where cheap clothing gets made. So, I made up a fake fashion sourcing company and traveled to manufacturers in southern China and in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The experience was eye-opening to say the least.

Where do you shop now? What do you wear?
Overdressed is a book about over consumption, so the first thing that had to change was the pace at which I was shopping. I shop at a snail’s pace compared to how I used to, and I no longer shop on impulse. Researching Overdressed made me want to own better clothes, clothes that I loved, that a great story behind them, and that had a level of design and craftsmanship that was missing from my cheap fashion.
When I shop now, I use these principals:
- I support brands that use ethical production, this includes clothing that is made in the U.S. or uses Fair Trade and living wage pay structures. Check out the Shopping Directory for affordable alternative and ethical brands.
- I try to buy only clothes that I really need/want and am going to wear. I also think ahead to how I’m going to clean and repair a garment/shoes and how I’m going to dispose of them.
- The first label I look at on clothing is the fabrication label. The designer/brand label is far less important to me. I try to buy clothing made out of good materials (wood, silk, linen, Tencel, and Modal are my favorite fabrics), which extends to the buttons and zippers. And that are sewn together well.
Some of my favorite places to shop are:
- Kaight, an independent boutique in NYC that I wrote about in Overdressed. All of the designers Kaight carries are either locally made and/or made from sustainable materials. There’s also an online store.
- I’m a thrift store and eBay junkie. I use the secondhand market to afford well-made vintage and designer pieces and luxurious fabrics that I couldn’t otherwise afford. Thrift stores are also a great source for vintage wool coats, silk shirts, and leather products from vests to belts to handbags.
- For special occasion and event pieces, I often scour higher-end department stores like Barney’s Co Op, Saks, Bloomingdales, looking for high-quality pieces that are a good value. Value to me means the price tag is justified by the detail, craftsmanship, and uniqueness of the piece. I also support fairly priced high-end designers who use at least some local production, including Nanette Lepore, Helmut Lang, Theory, and Rag & Bone. Again, the label is less important to me. It’s all about the materials, the way something is made, and where it’s made!

Where do you shop when you’re on a budget?
I shop my closet! And head to the Goodwill as a backup. Most Americans own more clothing than they can wear and much of their wardrobe is underutilized. If I’m really cash-strapped, I wear what I’ve already got. Every season, it’s a good idea to go through your closet and try everything on that’s going unworn. Make piles for donations, alterations, and repairs. I like to creatively re-imagine clothes by shortening hems, taking off sleeves, dyeing fabric and shoes a new color, adding or removing embellishments, changing buttons, etc.


How many of you now are going to buy this book? And how many of you used to be like that?
Post your comments, let me hear from you.

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