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VOL. 43 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 18, 2019

Being the best-dressed is about more than looking successful

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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Your clothes are all laid out for tomorrow. You’ll get up in the morning, jump out of the shower, into your outfit, and out the door because it’s a big day. You’ll look sharp, competent and responsible, and you’ll feel that way, too.

And in “The Conscious Closet” by Elizabeth L. Cline, you’ll learn how to buy clothes that make it happen.

Everybody needs things to wear.

Chances are, in fact, that you’ve got clothes on right now, which makes you an end-user of a global industry that accounts for 3% of the Earth’s economy and provides jobs for “hundreds of millions of people around the world…” Without thinking about it specifically, you’ve contributed to a $2.5 trillion worldwide business.

And for that, your closet is packed.

The old saying that we must dress for success is hard to do when you’re overwhelmed by wardrobe, so the first thing, says Cline, is to empty your closet and get rid of what doesn’t fit, doesn’t fit in and never really was your style anyhow.

In the U.S. each year, nearly 24 billion pounds of wearables are thrown away, she says, so don’t add to it. Instead, donate and take a tax deduction. But know this: 80% of your donation will go to “rag traders,” and most of their castoffs are shipped overseas “in a global trade worth almost $4 billion annually.”

“The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good”

by Elizabeth L. Cline

c.2019, Plume

$17

349 pages

If this seems wasteful, you’re right. So instead, says Cline, give your unwanted fashion a new life by selling or swapping it. Do good by knowing where your clothing was made and if it was made sustainably. Learn how to thrift-shop; invest in quality clothing that will last years, and that you’ll feel good wearing; and finally, learn the art of repair to keep the things you wear from wearing out.

We’ve all experienced it: the shirt that feels like a straitjacket, the pants that make you pant just putting them on, alas, your closet’s full of them. “The Conscious Closet” helps you put those unwanted items out of your house and out of your mind.

But first, you’ll have to get past a lot of how-to. Author Elizabeth L. Cline does double duty in this book, first with a closet-clearing, donating-or-renewing, buying-classic-pieces tutorial. That’s information you’ll find in any kind of “dress for success” book, so it’s largely redundant for established business folks.

The second half of this book is where the goodness lies: Cline explains the impact you make by shopping wisely in today’s world, and why fast-fashion and fads are bad for you, your wallet and the global economy.

Reading the book is like unbuttoning your waistband after Thanksgiving dinner: It’s surprisingly easy, it makes sense and you know you’ll be happier once you do it.

The best place for this book, perhaps, is in the hands of a college grad who’s just now building a wardrobe, or for anyone who’s looking to dress upward. If that’s you, then “The Conscious Closet” has what you need, all laid out.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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