By Elizabeth Cline
Portfolio, $25.95, 235 pages

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a must read for anyone interested in fashion and the economy behind it. Within the first 10 pages the reader learns that as a nation we buy roughly 20 billion garments a year, and of those garments we produce only 3%, down from 50% in 1990. The balance comes largely from China. What is surprising is that while we are buying more clothes, we are spending less of our income to do so. Not because we are earning more, but because the clothing is so cheap. We are paying for quantity not quality.

Author Elizabeth Cline covers a lot of territory but does it with credible research and facts. She cites changes in society that include the fact that publicity determines which designer labels are popular and the fact that casual wear has replaced tailored clothing in most business environments as being two instances where consumers have lost their ability to appreciate quality. She posits embracing the theory behind the organic food movement – pay more because it’s worth more.

Given the state of our economy, this book is fascinating reading. Cline provides plenty of data but does so in a way that will keep the reader engaged.


Reviewed by Catherine Gilmore,