Am I Overdressed?

Making all things new means a lot of things to me, but ultimately, it's about the kingdom of God - which is here, and which is coming, and which I work and long for.

One of the ways I "practice resurrection," and make things new, is by cultivating more sustainable practices in my everyday life. Over the last three years, sewing has become one of those practices. With my great-aunt's sewing machine and my grandmothers' old tools and fabrics, I'm (very slowly) teaching myself to mend and re-use and repurpose rather than to buy, buy, and buy.

(Pants made from one of Jack's old button-downs)

(Dress made from a woman's shirt handed down from Aunt Hannah)

Reading the book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion bolstered my resolution to create rather than consume, when possible, and also helped me think about how to shop better. I wrote about it for the Englewood Review of Books - here's a taste.

I still remember the first time I got to go shopping- alone - after giving birth to my second child. He was seven months old. It had been a while.

I was driving to pick up our free-range Thanksgiving turkey from a family farm in Kokomo, and had some extra time, so I stopped at Old Navy. A skirt, a dress, a cardigan, and two t-shirts later, I left for the farm, crowing over my successes. “An $8 dress that makes me feel like Tami Taylor? How could I not buy it?”

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Penguin 2012), by Elizabeth Cline, demonstrates why I ought to learn to curb - or at least refine - that bargain-hunting impulse. In much the same way that Michael Pollan investigated how Americans get their food in The Omnivore’s Dilemma (leading me to buy that free-range turkey, incidentally), Cline spent three years investigating the world of fashion and clothing production. What she finds in Overdressed is enough to convince me that there might be as good a reason to pay more for the right kinds of clothes as there is to pay more for the right kinds of food.

(Read the full review here.)