Book Review – Overdressed

Just finished a book that I found in the library.

Overdressed – The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

It’s about the fashion industry in America, but much of it applies here.

She looks at several issues with clothing:

1, cheap, fast fashion – the samey look of the cheap high street shops, clothing made in countries where wages are so low that we can buy clothing for less than a coffee. She went to factories in India and China and looked at the factory standards. The factory collapse that hopefully made many of us sit up and look into what our need for cheap clothing does to workers at the lower end of the scale.

It made me think, my jeans cost me £3 and my t-shirts are £6, my outfit cost less than a tenner, so someone somewhere is getting ripped off.


The problem with cheap clothing is that often it’s made so quick and cheap that the quality is poor, but then, these clothes are only meant to last a few weeks.

2. High, over priced fashion. Prior to Sex and the City going on TV a Hermes Birkin bag averaged $4,000, but after being on air the price rocketed to $9,000. No extra workmanship, the price more than doubled just for being on air. With some handbags being marked up 10-12% above costs of manufacture it makes you wonder why and how people can buy them.

3. Vintage and Hand made. One of the main issues about clothing is perhaps that we have fallen out of love. I remember my first goth outfit with fond memories, and I remember wearing a knitted snood tube as a skirt (which fell down as I walked through town). Clothing these days are bought so cheaply and worn out so quickly that we just don’t have a fondness for them, they haven’t created memories for us. Thankfully people are beginning to return to the days of hand-me-downs, second hand, Vintage, and sewing your own.

It’s easy to think of fashion and put all the blame on Primark, I like to think of myself as a bit more ethical than Primark shoppers, whereas in reality I don’t know where my clothing comes from. All I know is that I really need to consider the clothing I do buy.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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