How (Not) to Get Tailor-Made Clothes in Vietnam

Hoi An is a coastal town in central Vietnam and a World Heritage site. It’s also a haven for those seeking custom-made clothes, with tailors on (and in between) every corner. So we couldn’t resist giving it a try.

I started with a green satin dress and dress pants, added two shirts, and finally ordered a forest green winter coat, all for $125. Fred got a three-piece suit, a white dress shirt, and two jackets. We dutifully got measured by a friendly but pushy assistant who kept asking, “You happy?” and we came back the next day to try on our creations.

Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared for all the alterations that would be necessary, from a tailor that came highly recommended (we don’t recommend them). I wanted a low-backed dress with wide-set straps, and they had trouble getting the top to fit snugly – so much trouble that I had to be motorbiked to the workshop so I could try on the dress after three, four, five alterations. The workshop was a small three-room building strewn with fabric scraps and Vietnamese men playing cards on the floor. The aforementioned talkative assistant herded me into the bedroom and quickly pulled clothes on and off me, examining the fit. (Finally, they got it right.)

Fred wasn’t so lucky – apparently (though I can’t tell), his suit still has flaws. Also, the dress shirt isn’t high quality material, and the casual jacket isn’t casual. Plus, he discovered that they were cheating us (and everyone else) with an exchange rate of 22,000 dong for every USD, when it should have been 21,000.

Here are some photos: