Saturday, February 9, 2013

Over-Dressed - by Elizabeth Cline

I heard about this book via a blog http://highfashionaveragewoman.com/ via twitter: @trishgrier
the actual blog post is this one:
Fast Fashion is not good for you, your wardrobe, or the planet
and that lead me to read "Over-Dressed, The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" by Elizabeth Cline.
While not a "Made In America" evangelist until recently - I do remember saying to my husband when we lived in Fond du Lac Wisconsin (where much of the town derived its income from a manufacturing plant for outboard motor engines and a smaller plant for industrial machinery and an even smaller dairy plant) "these people are buying their way out of a job!  You can't complain about cheaper boat engines being made by companies that outsource to cheap labor markets and then turn around and by everything you own at Walmart."  Now I'll admit that they may be a huge generalization and injustice to Walmart, I have no idea where the majority of their items are sourced, but I'd hazard the guess that you can't make stuff that cheap in the USA.

Ms. Cline begins her book with stories about the American addiction to cheap buys - and the "disposable" attitude that as a nation we take towards goods.  In this book specifically clothing.  And it is making me really think.  I don't think I was expecting this book to have this big of an impact on me.  But it is.

For example, I needed slacks.  I've needed some for quite some time.  And this book (and I'm only 1/3 of the way through it) inspired me to stop by Binns of Williamsburg, where my grandmother used to shop.  Inside Binns you'll find rather nice clothing, and real salespeople.  And lucky me, the winter items were marked down to make room for spring.  So I found 3 pairs of slacks and tried them on while Lori (the saleswoman) took Little Hawk on a hunt through the store for stuffed animals and allowed him to "drive" a toy car...  One brand was indeed made in the United States, VIZCAINO, which made me that much more pleased with myself.  They were pricey - even marked down they were at the top of my budget scale, but that is one of the things that Ms. Cline discusses in her book; the actually cost of creating a piece of clothing.  And since I've always been one to take a long term view of my purchases (I have boots that are as old as my 12 year old son, and I love them and wear them often) I am able to validate the amount, knowing I'll buy fewer items but wear them longer.  Though I did say to the salesperson, Lori, when she showed me a very trendy cardigan "I know it's 'the thing' but I wear clothes for 10 years."  And you know - she looked at me with respect not pity or contempt.

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