Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I've been reading lately...and the Tale of Two Skirts'...

When I retired I vowed to read more books and to vary the genres. So as well as the crime/mystery novels that have been my favourites for decades, now I also try to read non fiction books as well. The Frugal Girl blog often gives me ideas for books to read and that's how I heard about Elizabeth Cline's book 'Over-dressed'. I was able to borrow the book from the Brisbane City Council library and DH and I went over to Stones Corner library as the catalogue indicated there was a copy on the shelves there.


We were able to combine a visit to the Stones Corner Library with a stroll around the shops and a stop for coffee :-)



This is a book about how the fashion industry in the US (and most Western world countries) has evolved into a 'shop every week' for the latest trends of cheaply produced, poorly-made, poor quality clothes. (Cline commented that some of the clothing retailers can have anything up to 400 new items each week on sale in the shops, thus encouraging people to shop more often...not just once a season as in her parents' time.) The 'rise' of the 'Outlet' shopping malls as well as the 'Cheap Chains such as Forever 21, Dress Barn etc,  and the demise of both the department stores and the smaller boutique type clothing shops has been happening at the same time...

 This has resulted in the closure of US clothing factories and some highly skilled workers out of work. These cheap clothes are produced in other countries with the resultant environmental issues as well as workplace health and safety issues. Cline also visited US clothing re-cyclers and discovered that the shoddily made cast offs of modern fashion chains are not really suitable for selling in charity shops or even to be shredded and re-woven into new fabrics...so they go to landfill. Even the huge secondhand clothing market in various African countries do not want these cheap clothes when they are discarded by Americans.

Cline is a young woman probably about the age of my children. I was interested to read that after she had researched for her book and had also seen examples of 'vintage' clothes with the well finished and nicely styled quality garments, she decided to learn how to sew...and she did.

My mother used to complain about the finish on garments in the 1970s and onwards, where seams came undone or seams were just over-locked edges and buttons fell off after being done up once or twice. Well I thought of my mum's comments when it became obvious that a skirt that I bought in Sears in the USA in 2011, was not the best quality. Yep! I had firsthand experience of what Cline described in her book...

I must have re-sewn every horizontal seam in this skirt, since I first wore it ! I think the skirt was $19 full price but it was on sale so I possibly only paid $USD10...buyer beware, you get what you pay for obviously!


The next photo is a skirt which was sewn by my grandmother who worked as a tailoress for Fletcher Jones when he was just a small business in Warrnambool. Nanna made this skirt out of viyella in 1945 for my mum. My mum had been serving in the army and didn't have many 'civvy' clothes so Nanna made her some new ones. But that's not my mum in the photo, it's me! The skirt was still just like a new skirt in the 1960s and pleated skirts had come back into fashion. So mum shortened it for me and I wore it for years. This was a case of a quality fabric, sewn well and the garment cared for resulting in something that lasted well for years. (I grew out of it sadly...unlike my mother who was a tiny size 10 as an adult, I grew to a Size 14 in my early 20s)


There is an excellent article/review on the book here. I found the book easy to read and although the contents are rather sobering, I did enjoy reading the book. 

9 comments:

Paul Forster said...

I found your post interesting. You indeed get what you pay for. I have too often in the past bought cheap and regretted it. Buying better quality now. Older and wiser I hope!

angela said...

I totally agree. Used to be you bought a few well made quality items and mixed and matched them. They lasted years. But now everything has a time limit so no one wants stuff to last they just won't what's in fashion. I have friends that throw out stuff they have only worn once because it was last years fashions! Crazy. I buy what I can afford and wear it for years, I just don't care.

Vireya said...

I will have to see if I can find a copy in my library here. I'd be very interested to read it.

Cath said...

So I guess the adage that "they don't make things like they used to" is really quite true!
Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs

Lin said...

All very true - I must look out for that book. Thank you.

creations.1 said...

All so true. And the fit of the cheap garments is not good either. The other thing that has always amused me is this : we pay big dollars for one special event outfit that may only be worn once and for everyday wear which needs to be strong and durable we buy the cheap stuff - don't know when this mentality came into being??

Susan said...

How true - I too remember a skirt I inherited form my mother - she would have worm it for years and I did too.
I think younger people want/need quantity not so much quality but as we get older we tend to go for quality when we can.

Becky said...

I hate everything in the stores now.. the fabric is so thin, seems are uneven or coming apart on the rack and they're double the price they were 20 years ago. And even sewing for yourself is now difficult here as the fabric's at Jo-Ann's and Hancock Fabrics are also quite thing and don't look like they would last a second. I've taken to shopping for clothes at the Goodwill's and thrift stores around here. I love finding things for $1-$3 and LOVE half price Sundays at the Goodwill Clearance Center... may even go tomorrow!

Robert Green said...

I like cheap garments who have the quality. It is not easy to find such clothes because most of the companies sell clothes cheap only when there is a defect in them.

Regards,
Robert Green
Eton