The Perfect Fit: Getting Tailor Made Clothing in Hoi An
I didn't know much about Hoi An when I arrived on a night bus at 6am, but I did know that it was the place to get tailor-made clothing.
After checking into my homestay and having a cup of coffee, I asked for tailor recommendations from Beck and Lucy, the owners of Sac Lo Homestay. They sent me in the direction of Bao Diep tailor, a ten minute bike ride from the homestay and located just outside of Old Town.
I tagged along with two American girls who had already gotten measured for dresses and were heading for their final fittings. After seeing the beautiful fabric and how perfect their dresses fit them, I started Googling photos of possible outfits I wanted made. I immediately thought of an off-the-shoulder dress, but I wanted it to be casual and fun. I found a few photos on Pinterest and fashion blogs that I could show the tailor.
The next day, I showed the photos to Lan, one of the tailors at Bao Diep. She immediately sketched out the design in a notebook and made a few recommendations - make the sleeves a bit smaller and have the dress hit right above the knees.
The hardest part was picking out the fabric! I wanted a cream color, but Lan was insistent that it would get too dirty and could possibly be see-through. So I settled on a light blue. It was hard for to imagine what the finished piece would look like, but I trusted the $45 cost would be worth it. Lan took my measurements and made a note of the fabric I had chosen. She told me to come back at 1pm, less than 24 hours from then.
I walked in for my first fitting appointment and was handed the dress on the hanger. The dress did hang well, so I thought I had made a big mistake that cost me $45! But I tried the dress on and instantly fell in love with it. It fit perfectly, I loved the color, and it was just had I been looking for. The dress fit so well that I didn't need another fitting.
The staff made a few final alterations, and that was it. I loved it so much that I decided to get a black jumpsuit made. I've wanted a jumpsuit for awhile, but it's hard to find one that fits me since I'm short (5'3"). I came in with a few photos and told Lan that I wanted the look to be a bit more formal than slouchy. She sketched out a design that combined one of the tops from a photo and the pants from another photo. The total cost of the jumpsuit was $60, which was discounted because I was staying at Sac Lo Homestay (they have an agreement with Bao Diep).
I went back for a fitting the next day and instantly loved the sexiness of the jumpsuit. It was a bit tight around the hips and I emphasized that I wanted to eat lots of pizza when I got home, so the jumpsuit had to be loosened around the hips. I also wanted the pant legs to be more narrow. Lan took notes, marked the changes with chalk, and had me come back in an hour.
I walked out of Bao Diep with two beautiful, tailor-made pieces for $100!
Getting clothing made in Hoi An was one of my favorite experiences - it was so much fun to come up with ideas for the design, choose the fabric, get measured, and have a piece of clothing created just for me. There were women at Bao Diep who were getting fitted for formal dresses, jumpsuits, suits, blazers, sundresses, blouses, and more! Many of the men were getting fitted for work shirts and suits - you can get a custom-made suit for $200-300. Incredible! It's definitely worth the money, plus it's a lot of fun.
Where to stay: Sac Lo Homestay for $8/night
I had mixed feelings about this place. The beds didn't have individual outlets, lamps, or reading shelves. It was a bit out of town but bicycle rentals were still $1/day. Breakfast hours were also quite limited (8-9:30am), but Lucy's banana pancakes are out of this world. The place was clean and it was easy to meet people since it was so small.
Where to get tailored: Bao Diep Tailor. Ask for Lan! Apparently a Swiss couple stayed at Sac Lo a few years ago and did thorough research on all the tailors, including quality and price. Bao Diep came out on top, and rightfully so. My cousin and aunt visited this tailor a few weeks after me and they were very happy with their pieces!
If I'm being honest: There are 200+ tailors in Hoi An. I do think you get what you pay for and Bao Diep just happens to have quality pieces at fair prices. It can be overwhelming to look at and compare all the shops, so go by recommendation when you can.