Read an Excerpt

“Overdressed does for t-shirts and leggings what Fast Food Nation did for burgers and fries.”

–Katha Pollitt, The Nation

“Cline is the Michael Pollan of fashion…Hysterical levels of sartorial consumption are terrible for the environment, for workers, and even, ironically, for the way we look.”

—Michelle Goldberg, Newsweek/The Daily Beast

“A Sharp Wake-Up Call.”
- Publishers Weekly


Amazon (eBook, Print, Hardcover)
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Audio Book (CD) – Amazon
Audio Book (Audible)


The way Americans dress has fundamentally changed in recent years. Once crafted in domestic factories, 98% of our clothing is now made abroad. And stores ranging from fast fashion chains like H&M and Forever 21 and discounters like Target to traditional companies like Gap and Macy's offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. It's driving up our pace of consumption and turning fashion into one of the most environmentally destructive industries on Earth. And we have little reason to keep wearing much less repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more. In her debut book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, journalist and former cheap fashion addict Elizabeth L. Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut. What are we doing with all these clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, even our souls?


The book that ignited a global conscious fashion revolution! Released by Penguin Portfolio in 2012 (paperback in 2013), Overdressed is a landmark investigation into the rise of fast, disposable fashion and its hidden toll on the environment, human rights, and consumer behavior — the first of its kind. Years before the rest of the world woke up to the impacts of fashion, Cline was reporting on the subject. The critically acclaimed title has been hailed hailed by BusinessWeek as “the fashion world’s answer to… The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” declared a “sharp wake-up call” by Publishers Weekly and earned Cline comparisons as the “Michael Pollan of fashion” (Newsweek‘s Michelle Goldberg).

Cline was among the first U.S. journalists to cover the fashion industry in Bangladesh, before the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster claimed the lives of 1,130 garment workers. She has shared her research from Overdressed on many prestigious radio and television programs, including Fresh Air With Terry Gross, NPR’s On Point and All Things Considers, NBC Nightly News, BBC The World, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and The New York Times Video, among many others.

Overdressed has been translated into six languages and has helped to galvanize a global ethical fashion movement, inspired countless ethical fashion brands and startups and is included in the curriculum at universities and high schools around the U.S. and Canada. Continued demand for the book resulted in an audio version in late 2016. An Italian translation with an updated preface was released in April 2018. A follow-up, The Conscious Closet: A Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, is in the works, with a release date set for late 2019.

Select Reviews

“Attention, Shoppers”
The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Feb. 8, 2013 
“The wastefulness encouraged by buying cheap and chasing the trends is obvious, but the hidden costs are even more galling. Cline contends that “disposable clothing” is damaging the environment, the economy and even our souls, and she presents a dense and sobering skein of data to support her thesis.”

Overdressed, a review
Publisher’s Weekly, Mar. 26, 2012
“The good news for shoppers, notes Brooklyn journalist Cline in her engagingly pointed, earnestly researched study, is that cheap knockoffs of designer clothing can be found in discount stores almost instantly. The bad news is that “fast fashion” has killed America’s garment industry and wreaked havoc on wages and the environment, especially in China, where most of the cheap clothes and textiles are now made.”

How “fast fashion” moguls filled your closets with junk
Bloomberg Business, June 21, 2012
Overdressed is the fashion world’s answer to consumer-activist bestsellers like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Self-deprecating about her own lack of style—she has a thing for fleece-lined sweatshirts—Cline writes with the zeal of a reformed shopaholic.”

Beware, False Thrift
Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2012
“The allure of cheap clothing can be impossible to resist. Author Elizabeth Cline once stumbled on a sale of canvas shoes at Kmart. At $7 a pop, she bought every pair, a total of seven, in her size.”

Dressed to destroy: A skeptical look at cheap fashion
Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2012
Elizabeth L. Cline goes for the jugular straight away in this exploration of the consumer love affair with cheap clothing.

Foreign Translations