Overdressed author Elizabeth Cline talks about the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Elizabeth Cline is a New York-based journalist and author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. She is currently an editor for AMC television’s website, AMCtv.com, and has written for The Daily Beast, New York magazine, Popular Science, The New Republic, Village Voice, Seedmagazine.com, and the Etsy Blog, among others.
Elizabeth’s tips to not be OVERDRESSED:
1. Don’t buy on impulse. Instead of spending $20 here and there without planning to, make a wish list of wardrobe pieces you truly want and need. Before buying a piece, ask yourself how often you’re going to wear it and in what setting. By cutting out your impulse purchases, you’ll have more money to spend on the better-quality items you really desire.
2. Shop secondhand. This doesn’t have to mean scrounging through musty thrift stores. Organize a clothing swap with friends and shop for refashioned vintage or pre-owned designer goods on eBay. Turn to thrift stores for vintage wool coats and woven shirts and tailored pants and have your tailor or seamstress alter them or refashion them into a more modern look.
3. Put clothes to the quality test. Before buying, make sure the seems are straight, the hems are finished, the buttons and zippers are secure. Always try on the garment, and make sure the fit is good and the fabric feels nice to the hand and next to your skin. Look for details like pleating, gussets, reinforced stitching. You’re more likely to be satisfied long-term with clothes that are well-made and flatter your body.
4. Shop your closet. Go through your closet once a season–take stock of items you want to donate to charity, swap, repair, or alter. Update pieces by changing hem and sleeve lengths, removing or adding embellishments, or dyeing fabric a new color. Try on items you haven’t worn in a while and you’re bound to rediscover some gems.
5. Don’t just buy “deals.” Ask yourself why something is so cheap before you buy it. Start with the materials — do they feel cheap or look cheap? Are the buttons, zippers, and embellishments sewn on securely? Even if a garment is brand name, if it’s being unloaded for a very low price that means the materials were low quality to begin with.
6. Budget. Good clothing is not super cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. By limiting your number of cheap, disposable purchases to one or two a season and setting a budget (the average American spends $1,100 a year on clothes), you can plan for those higher-quality pieces you really desire.
7. Buy local. More brands are moving production back the U.S., so don’t just assume you can’t find domestically made clothing. Check the label. Locally-made fashion has a lower environmental footprint, helps provide jobs, and offers designers better quality control and faster response to changing trends.
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