Last week I read the book Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline. It's been making its way around fashion blogs for a while now, so I won't give an in-depth review because you've probably read about it somewhere else already. (And if you haven't read about it, head over to Jessie's blog for a great run-down.) Here's a brief synopsis, though: It's about our current culture of fast fashion - how we're addicted to buying new, cheap, trendy clothes, and how that's affecting America's economy, the lives of factory workers in other countries, and our planet.
Honestly, I was afraid to read this book because I knew it would be convicting, and it was. The statistics alone are mind-numbingly awful: Zara produces one million garments a day. H&M produces half a billion a year. Every year Americans throw away 12.7 million tons of textiles. These are nearly incomprehensible numbers, and when you consider what they mean for the welfare of our planet, they're quite frightening. Those numbers made me look at my closet and consider the environmental impact of the hundreds of items hanging in there. I've almost never given a second thought over going into Forever 21 and buying a cheap shirt that would probably only last a few wears, but I will now.
One of my goals for this year was to buy fewer clothes, but to spend more money on higher quality. That's not to say I haven't purchased anything cheap and trendy - I regularly give in to temptation when it comes to pretty clothes. But I've been trying to consider some of my purchases more carefully, and save up for them.
That's why I gladly paid $230 for a leather bag and $200 for a leather jacket this year. I know it seems weird to see me talk about spending that much money on only two things. I've noticed that when fashion bloggers talk about money, it's usually along the lines of, "I bought this sweater for only eight dollars!" And that's great if you can find a sweater for eight dollars (even better if it's one you love and wear all the time), but I wish bloggers would talk now and then about how much something cost, like, "I spent $200 on this jacket, and it was absolutely worth it." Almost everyone who found out that I spent $230 on a purse freaked out about it, and I think that's because we're so used to hearing about how cheap clothes are that it doesn't seem necessary to pay high prices anymore.
But in a lot of cases, I think it's still worth it. I'm going to use my leather purse for years (not months, as was the case with all my other purses), and I'm hoping that the jacket I bought will be the only black leather jacket I'll ever have to buy.
I'm not saying that I think we all need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on everything we buy (especially because there are a lot of cases where your money would only be buying you a label, and not quality), and I hope none of you feel like I'm judging you for buying inexpensive clothes, because that's not my intention. But reading Overdressed has further convinced me that there are some areas where I should seek out quality, and other areas where I just don't need duplicates. I don't need eleven striped tops, and yet that's how many I have. What if every person in the world owned as many clothes as I do? I think the health of this planet would just fall apart.