Getting clothes the right way

I just mentioned Project Runway: a delightful show with tons of pluck that enlivens an industry that I want far, far away from me. (I enjoyed Six Feet Under, too, but that doesn’t mean I trust funeral homes now.) The unspoken assumption of the show is that women are decorative and probably vain, and that nothing’s too much to meet their needs. Not even the workers in wholly unrecognized sweatshops that might well pump out the “commercial dresses” that fuel the industry.

As you, dear readers, know I have a particular beef about how and where clothes are made. I’m also losing a lot of weight and my wardrobe was already showing its age. I see a good bit of clothes shopping in my future. But not so many pieces. I don’t think it’s too much to demand that I find well-designed, well-tailored pieces that can last a long time. That means I can afford to pay a premium for ethically sourced clothes and the added time now will save me time later by not having to replace them. I’m not poor any more, but an old friend of mine put it well (when we were all at the end of our tether): “The poor can only afford the best.” Or at least the best made. Passing fashion and fippery frippery is the domain of the senseless rich.

Not that it can be easy to find. Linda Grant, writing in today’s Guardian, plumbs some these same issues in “Cheap at Twice the Price.” Alas, again most of the resources are for women’s clothing, so I’ll continue to keep watch for the menfolk.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I am very much in the same boat. Lost enough weight that my formal clothes don’t fit and heading for an east coast internship where I feel like I will need to upgrade my wardrobe on a debt-riddled seminarian budget. I’ll look forward to seeing anything you find. I should have bought a custom suit when I was in Transylvania.

  2. @James. I’d budget a couple of hundred dollars (perhaps less) and get myself and my best constructed/most generally wearable clothes to a tailor. This both “recycles” the cloth and provides non-sweatshop employment in an environment you can observe personally.

    Plus, most men ought to have clothes fitted anyway and don’t weight-loss or not.

    But perhaps you’re getting frayed and faded like me, in which case keep reading.

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