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Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Fashions fade; style is eternal."

When I think of waste and unnecessary garbage, I think of plastic water bottles. It makes sense. The pollution created by plastic bottles is drilled into the heads of eco-conscious people (and starting to enter the minds of everyone else).

But clothes? Yeah.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a tremendously important book.

I'm happy to say that I was eschewing "cheap fashion" even before this book came out. It wasn't with any world-view, though. It was for two basic reasons: One, I don't really care much for trends and adhering to the latest fashions. Two, I've always preferred longer-lasting, higher-quality clothes.

A few years ago, working with people who were very un-like me, I was talking about how I needed new jeans. "Get them at Wal-Mart or Kmart," one girl suggested. "They're only $10! They fall apart after a month, but then you can just buy another pair for cheap." Huh? "Wait," I said. "Why would I want to buy a pair of jeans that falls apart?"

"Because they're only ten dollars!"

That seems to be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. And what a waste of $10. If I spend $50-$70 on a pair of jeans, I expect them to last a couple years at least.

Contrast this to a comment a friend made about a vintage 1920s dress that her mother had: "It's made like a tank," she said. "The seams are strong, and this thing is not coming apart." Now that's a fashion I'd like to have! (Of course, my love for '20s & '30s fashions might have a little something to do with it, too.)

Another time, I was in a shoe store and asked the woman about how long a pair of shoes would last (from a brand I didn't know). "Oh, you'll get a season out of them!"When did this become okay? Why is it okay to wear through a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes in less than a year? (It's especially inexcusable now that we all own more than 10 outfits total.)

Check out the "Fast Facts" from Elizabeth Cline's book. Among them are the fact that the average American buys 68 garments and 7 pairs of shoes a year! And don't feel good about giving your old clothes to charity. Only 20% manages to be resold. (The rest is trash.)

A while back, the soles on the heels of expensive boots I owned had worn all the way down (because I wore them every day). I took them in to a cobbler to be re-soled, and — voila! — they were like brand new. Other than the sole, the boots were in excellent shape. If they had been $30 boots, (1) the rest of the boots would be falling apart as well and (2) the cobbler would have told me I could buy a new pair for less than the cost of re-soling the old pair. I can't tell you how good it feels to invest in really quality boots and have them be worth it!

Many hat-makers offer cleaning/re-blocking services and maintenance for their hats. My hats haven't been in the world long enough for that to be an issue. Rest, assured, though, that I will take care of my customers and my hats. My hats are carefully made by hand here in the U.S. — and not mass produced in China. That makes me feel pretty proud. :)
"Fashions fade; style is eternal." — Yves Saint Laurent


  1. Excellent post Kristin!! Great points and glad you are making things to last. Thank you for the info also.

    1. Thanks! Ever since I heard about this book, I've tried to spread the word about it. I think it's so important, with such shocking information. And I always try to promote other milliners and other artisans.