The full title of this work of non-fiction is Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Elizabeth Cline takes the reader on a tour through fashion history, emphasizing the current state of shopping. Cline did extensive research, travelling all over the country and world to investigate the clothing stream that flows into American retail stores.
One of the most striking points she makes is about how currently Americans spend a much lower percentage of their income on clothing than ever before in history. Because textiles are so readily available, so cheaply, clothes have become disposable. For that reason, the quality is significantly lower than ever before. This is a vicious circle because as people grow used to inexpensive, and cheaply made clothing they avoid clothing that is more expensive even if it is well made of high quality fabrics. Therefore companies that are trying to make a nice product must lower standards in order to meet the pricing demands of consumers.
Cline also spends some time talking about overseas manufacturing, though she does not dwell on the sweatshop concept because that is not really what this book is about. Especially interesting is the chapter about thrift stores and donation markets where all this poorly made clothing is taken and what happens when it is not wanted there either. It is shocking how much of our clothing is ending up as rags or in landfills.
Anyone who loves a good mark-down sale or just loves to shop for clothing but finds themselves facing a stuffed closet and nothing to wear should really read this book. It was a shock to me.