Hoi An is a town of tailors. Their shops, lining every street, are filled with little women in flowing ao dai (the traditional dress over pantaloons that, aptly quipped, “covers everything, but hides nothing”), all ready to bat their lashes and convince you to order more than you intended. Every day, in shops all over town, the ao dai change colors: Sunday is pink, Monday white, Tuesday gray… Our tailor just shrugged when we asked the origin of the local tradition.
The choices for clothing here are overwhelming. There may well be a hundred or more tailors in and around town and every shop proudly displays the same styles in the same colors out front, none seeming to aspire higher than mid-tier catalog garb. How they all chose to make that particular apple green jacket with the hood and offset closure I do not know. A few of the popular “rack” styles are cute and very on trend. Others look like prom or bad bridesmaid dresses that would be more at home under fluorescent lights in a soulless department store basement. Looking only at the sidewalk showings, I wouldn’t have ordered a thing. Only the relative success stories of friends at home carried me inside.
There are three stores that advertise on billboards in the Danang airport and along the road leading into town: Yaly, Thu Thuy, and A-Dong Silk. The first two were most often recommended in our pre-trip research. A very stylish friend had told us about the shop Queen Margaret of Spain visited in 2002—if it’s good enough for an actual queen!—so we went first to Thu Thuy.
I had brought two items with me to guide the tailors: a favorite wrap shirt ruined in dry cleaning and my most flattering but now too big slacks. Thu Thuy had a fairly broad selection of fabrics and colors, with and without stretch, in patterns and solids. No perfect matches, but good choices. We had been warned that impostor fabrics are common and to ignore the labels on the fronts of the swatch books. The names stitched into the bolt edging seem to me more likely to be the real deal, but who knows....read more
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