Archives For Fashion


Elizabeth Cline - OverdressedFinding Freedom in Our Clothes Closets.

A Feature Review of

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.

Elizabeth Cline.

Hardback: Portfolio, 2012.
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Reviewed by Amy Peterson.

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.

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“An Unsatisfying Account

A Review of
Hipster Christianity:
When Church and Cool Collide.

by Brett McCracken.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide.
by Brett McCracken.

Paperback: Baker Books, 2010.
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[ For a thorough critique of this work, read
David Session’s review  in Patrol Magazine. ]

It’s rare that I am as disappointed with a book as I was with Brett McCracken’s Hipster Christianity.  For a long time, I have been interested in youth culture movements and their intersections with the life of church communities, and I am certain that there is rich ground for exploration of the creativity, energy and social criticism that these movements have injected into churches, particularly over the last four decades.  And on the flip side, there are undoubtedly a multitude of ways in which these movements have been co-opted within Christianity for ends related to church growth and marketing, which was the thought that popped into my mind when I first heard the book’s sub-title “When Church and Cool Collide.”  And my anticipation of the book was further stoked by its creative and entertaining pre-release marketing, “The Christian Hipster Quiz,” which made its rounds on the internet earlier this summer.  Unfortunately, however, Brett McCracken’s book fails to deliver, and his work has been the target of a number of recent pointed critiques (from John Wilson of Books and Culture to David Sessions of Patrol Magazine – whose excellent and thorough review leaves me little to say here).

To his credit, McCracken does, in the finest work that the book has to offer, pen a decent history of “Hip Christianity.”  His descriptive work, however, is overshadowed by his flimsy analytical work, particularly his theological work which never seems to be able to imagine much of a Christianity beyond evangelicalism.  McCracken does, over the course of the book, highlight a number of key facets of “hipster” movements within Christianity over the last decade – the emerging church, emphases on social justice and art, etc. – but these topics are addressed in a rapid and disconnected fashion reminiscent of a PowerPoint presentation.  I am certain that there is deeper narrative about the intersections of the Church and youth culture that could be told, and I suspect that David Sessions is right when he observes that such an account would not fit neatly within McCracken’s evangelical framework.  If you’re interested in a descriptive history of recent intersections of youth culture and Christianity, Hipster Christianity might be of some interest to you, but if you’re looking for deeper reflections about the significance of this history, then we must wait for a book that is yet to be published.