Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I am one of those women.  While not a thrift store shopper, I like to get what I think are good quality clothes at cheap affordable prices.  And when I get complimented on said clothing, I tell people where I bought and what I paid.


T.J. Maxx and Marshall's are my favorite places to shop.  I don't enjoy shopping, but I can handle their easily accessed stores and racks.  Their prices are reasonable too.  I am not a fashionista, I am not a clotheshorse, but I do okay.  For the record, there are stores I will not shop in due to the quality or lack thereof of the clothing they sell:  WalMart, H & M, New York and Company, and except for jeans, Old Navy (their Divas often fit me) are stores I don't enter.

I have standards, and I do okay.  Or do I?
I spent some time earlier this month reading Overdressed The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth Cline.  Since then, I've spent some time thinking about all I read in the book.

The front cover holds a statement comparing the book to the film, Supersize Me.  That turned me off at first because the premise of that movie, a man eats gross amounts of fast food for an extended period of time, was just stupid--I could never get over the hype about that "experiment."  But once I got into the book, I was interested in what it had to say about affordable clothing.

It wasn't good news.  As Americans, our need for cheap fashion has literally destroyed clothing manufacturing in the US.  We buy factory produced, cheaply made and environmentally damaging clothing.  Our clothes tend to be disposable and lacking in quality.  What once were investment pieces made in the US and worn for years, are now made in foreign lands and worn for a season.  There is very little clothing, only 3% of what is sold in the US, actually made in the US.

Now, I tend to take really good care of my clothing and shoes. I wear pieces for more than a season.  I can go into my closet and pull out things I'm still fond of that I've owned for years.  So I'm good there.  But, I never think much about where something is made.

The book talked about the shuttered textiles mills and high unemployment in South Carolina.  It detailed what it's like for American companies trying to make clothing in America.  Workers here are not always treated well, being paid by the piece and working 10-12 hour days.  The picture painted of what the many (thousands of) Chinese factories are like, how other countries are honing in on making clothing for US consumption, and the over all poor and getting poorer quality of said clothing made me twitch.  Then, in the past week, a news story about a clothing factory fire in Pakistan killing over 100 people, caught my attention.  Cline wrote about such places in her book.

The hard part?  What's my next step?

It seems like for all of us who like to tell people how little we paid, there is a group of folks doing the opposite.  We cheapies outnumber the folks who spend a bundle, but where are the in-between fashions?  And if those are still made abroad only with better materials, who are we really helping when we purchase those?  If I learn to sew, which I'd very much like to do, how do I find fabric that is made in the US?  Is that easier?  I googled American made clothing, and I didn't find much.   I did find Karen Kane, whose clothing is feminine and appealing, so I'll be researching that vendor further. Can I make that little work for me?  How do I know the workers who made it are paid a living wage?

Obviously this book didn't as much answer questions as it provided me with more.

The contents of my closet are a work in progress.

For more on the book, read this article.


  1. I'm depressed now...

    the state of our country, even more screwed up - even when it comes to simple things like clothing. Geez!!!

    makes me think of the Olympics where the outfits to represent the USA was made in China. How embarassing...

    My biggest shock? You dont shop at Old Navy? 90% of my wardrobe is from there!

  2. I feel really good about my 99% thrifted closet now. :)

  3. I have become more cognizant of "made in China" labels and make an attempt to avoid them. Hard ... especially on a limited budget!

  4. this is very interesting! i read an article today about the terrible conditions in other countries that produce the majority of our clothes.

  5. the other day i ordered a cute skirt from a british company ... seriously, it was mailed all the way from jolly ol' england.

    when i got it i loved it. it fit! and it was made in china.


  6. Like you, I spend more for quality pieces that I'll wear for years (only I pay outlet mall prices).

    When you mentioned reading this earlier, I contemplated picking up the book. When life slows down, I'll be interested in tucking away with a book... Right now, I'm lucky if I slow down enough to read an article in a magazine.

  7. Our insatiable "need" for.....stuff (not just clothing) is doing the same number any number of manufacturing businesses. Remember when the U.S. was the only steel market worth talking about (or maybe I just remember that one because I live in SW PA where steel was king). I don't know what the answer is....U.S. companies can't make stuff as cheaply as foreign markets and quite frankly, a lot of the time electronics and the like from, oh say, Japan, have more advanced technology and are of better quality. There used to be a lot of factories around this area that made clothes (remember "Look for the union label?) but they've been closed since the late 80s or early 90s. Whatever we do, it's going to take a long time. It took nearly a century to get America in the shape it's in, it just might take that long to dig back out.

  8. I like the Old Navy Diva jeans.....they just fit well........I know about sewing factories in America because I worked in one many years ago. We did get paid by the bundle, not the piece, but for the time, I was making more money than I could have made anywhere else. It was hard work though and we weren't treated very well. Sigh......I've tried to find made in America clothing too and it is hard to do! I also wear clothes for a long time.

  9. Like you I love TJ Maxx and Marshalls, and Ross too. I also prefer to spend more for quality pieces and have lots of cheapo stuff. Being from Italy, I know good fashion and quality clothing, so I try to do a lot of my shopping (especially shoes) when I go home. I hate Walmart, but I do like NY and Co. Old Navy really has cheap clothes, I never shop there. I do want to do the right thing when purchasing clothes etc., but at times it's overwhelming, it almost makes me want to join a nude colony....lol


I'd like to be humble and say I only blog to record the doings of my life, but really, I blog for conversation, and I would love to hear from you. It's okay if you don't agree with me, that's what makes life interesting.