Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Book Review: Overdressed:

Book Title: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Author: Elizabeth Cline
Pages: 256
Cost: $25.95
How I got it: Netgalley ARC
Synopsis:

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.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It gave excellent background on fashion and how it changed and even why fashion changed, she shared stories about clothes that I both could and didn't relate to.  My mom taught me how to hem and sew on and button,  and fix zippers; I'm no great seamstress but I can do simple things so I didn't relate to her belief that this generation doesn't know how to do even these simple things. No honey that's just you. I also personally didn't relate to her over-consumption of clothes and her insistance that women shop to feel better, I personally think that speaks to personal philosophy and sense of self more than it does to cultural norms.  I did relate to the disaster that clothes have become but not to her insistence that every American has a closet like hers, full of clothes that they don't wear. No ma'am I don't. 

I loved her inclusion of blog names and youtube haulers as I have joined several of them for ideas for make-up and outfit pairings.  I agree with the author on the growing localism movement and about the increase in the numbers of people who are making their own clothes.  This is shown in my area by the basic sewing classes at my local craft store that qucikly fill up with  mostly teens and women in their 20s.  Clothing swaps are common in my area and the local vintage shops and Salvation Army stores are known for having great items to shop from. I loved discussing this book with my younger sisters, all three of whom worked for Forever 21 and they talked about company returns and how everyone at work would joke "you know what that means. We got caught!!".  I loved that she pointed out how unsustainable the current trend is and how it's affecting the people within the design house, the producers, the retailers, and even the consumers.  

Pros:
  • Lots of websites listed for you to check out
  • She gives solutions, she doesn't just point out the problem, she gives practical advice on how to no longer be a hamster on the wheels of fashion, how to find craft classes within your local area and all the things you can do to help find quality clothing at different companies.
Cons:
  • I'm hoping those editing errors are fixed before the book goes to print. *crosses fingers*
  • The author clearly showed her sense of privilege, and sheer arrogance when discussing her trip to China, she discussed how she believed they had no fashion know how and so she wore her plainest clothing to she would 'fit in' (who does that??) It's called research, do it before you make a complete ass of yourself.  
  • Her ignorance of geography pertaining to her trip to China, just makes me want to slap her. Really?? You really thought of China as a state?? I think they should remove that from the book, it added nothing to the book, but made her seem very removed from reality of the rest of the world.
  • I personally dislike how she seems to think that because she's just now discovered something or because more 'privileged' Americans are starting to feel the crunch and have now learnt to live within their means that these things are new to others.My family is solidly upper middle class and even within our neighbourhood which consists of middle to upper middle class families, they pass clothes and furniture on swapping items for things they may need. Perhaps because many of them are immigrant families or first/second generation they don't take so many things for granted the way she makes it seem Americans take everything for granted.
Even with these cons, I recommend this book highly for women to read. 

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