The first thing that anyone mentions when talking about Hoi An is the clothes. The town started out with a few tailor shops but as it?s reputation grew more tailors opened to cater to the increasing number of tourists. Now there are hundreds of tailors and droves of tourists coming to town just to get clothes made. Although I knew my cousin wasn?t going to be as excited about this stop on our trip I was adamant about coming.
My first day in Hoi An involved reserving plane tickets to Saigon, a taxi to the airport and a tour of the nearby My Son ruins. Once the boring stuff was out of the way I got down to business–checking out the shops and shopping around for good prices and fabrics. I ended up with a tiny woman in the back of the cloth market later that night, being measured and discussing the sketches I brought in for her to replicate. If I had planned I could have brought photos of the clothes I wanted made, but the sketches worked out fine. I asked for a few practical things like linen shorts, pants and tank top for wearing on my trip ($4-5 each). I also had a suit made with pants and a skirt ($35). The most troublesome piece of my order was the dress. I had drawn a boat neck, cap sleeve dress and discussed a ?1950?s-style? skirt. I wanted the skirt to twirl around when I spun. Twenty hours after ordering I went back to try things on and my heart sank when I saw a simple a-line dress. We discussed it for about 20 minutes–she knew I was upset but didn?t want to put the time or material into making a larger skirt. Finally, after a lot of pouting on my part, she agreed to do something with the skirt.
In the meantime, I had convinced my cousin that he should at least get a few shirts made since they were cheap. We went with a different woman in the cloth market this time which turned out to be a good decision–she did a wonderful job. I wasn?t going to get anything until I saw the beautiful silks and had to get a few dress shirts made. I next saw a shimmery green cotton fabric, what better to make a suit out of! A green suit demands a vest, so we set out to determine how my suit should look and if I needed pockets on the vest (where else would I put my pocket watch?). To top it off the suit?s lining is an electric blue!
I was so excited about my suit I could hardly think of anything else that day. Our time in Hoi An was spent evenly between looking for clothes and eating. The food was the best we had in Vietnam, in particular the dumplings called ?white roses?. After plenty of dishes of dumplings and fried won tons and a tour to the My Son ruins we went back to the market to try on our clothes. My dress had a full skirt! The green suit fit perfectly! My cousin?s white linen suit drew laughter from the entire market! I flew out of Danang Airport that night feeling very pleased with myself.