Pinterest completely changed my life. I now have recipes for a million decadent desserts I’m never going to make, design ideas for houses I’m never going to be able to afford, and at-home workouts I’m never going to find the motivation to try.
I also have a few hundred images pinned to ‘My Style’ board that I’m never going to wear. Pictures of beautiful people wearing equally beautiful dresses and blazers and boots, clothes that I would love to actually call my style if I had the money to buy them, a closet to store them, and a reason to wear them.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful that our travels have resulted in a minimalistic lifestyle. Currently we have no need or desire for so much stuff, and it is completely liberating. But I’m still a gal who loves dresses. I’d wear them everyday if I could and I’m convinced there’s always room for one more in my backpack.
I knew I was going to have to exercise restraint when we went to Hoi An. This charming UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its tailor shops (over 400 of them), where you can get custom-made clothes to fit any shape and style. This is a dangerously fantastic thing, especially given that the Hoi An tailors are excellent copiers. Show them nearly any image of an outfit you’ve been dreaming about and the tailors will reproduce it for you at a fraction of the cost.
Remember that Pinterest style board I mentioned? Well here was my chance to finally own something on it. With the majority of our clothes floating on a boat somewhere over the Pacific and two upcoming weddings to attend, we had all the excuses we needed for a Hoi An shopping spree.
Here’s a look at what we purchased. I feel a little awkward doing a modeling shoot, so please forgive the goofy poses. *If you could care less about what we bought, skip to the end for some Hoi An shopping tips. If you’re equally disinterested in wasting your travel fund on new clothes, then be sure to stop back next week when we share our Hoi An for non-shoppers guide.
The Pinterest Photo: Anthropologie Adelaide Dress
I opted for less of a pure white and a bit extra length, but other then that I think they look quite similar. With the actual Anthropologie dress costing $498, any minor differences don’t bother me at all. ;)
The Pinterest Photo
I adored that big bow on the back of the dress, and the tailors had no problem replicating it for me.
The Pinterest Photo
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any chevron fabric in Hoi An, the reason why I was crazy about this dress in the first place. I’m still pleased with the style though and it’s quite comfortable. Added bonus: it’s wrinkle-free.
The Pinterest Photo
I’ll probably get the most use out of this dress. In hindsight I wish the sleeves were a bit longer, but the tailors did a pretty good job replicating the image I showed them.
And here is Dan modeling his new suit. He used one of the magazines in the shop to find the style he was looking for.
Overall, we’re quite satisfied with our purchases. Shopping in Hoi An can definitely be an overwhelming process; with so many options to choose from, we were glad we came in with a strict budget and idea of what we wanted. All our purchases were made from Ha Na. It’s a family-run tailor shop, and the owners are just fabulous. Detail oriented, friendly and accommodating, the sisters who run the store went above and beyond our expectations. They even brought us a homemade lunch one day! We can’t recommend them enough. I do think their prices are a bit higher then some of the other lesser-known tailor shops, but we were willing to pay a few more dollars for guaranteed quality.
Most tailor shops can finish an order in 24 hours, but keep in mind that you will need more time for alterations. There are very few limits to what the tailors can do; dresses, shirts, suits, jackets, pants, bathing suits… you get the idea. Apart from the cloth shops, leather is also a hot commodity. Custom-made leather bags and shoes are a worthwhile investment.
Unfortunately it can be a bit more difficult to bargain at the tailor shops. Definitely try a bit of friendly haggling to see if you can get the prices down, but don’t expect the same success you might have at a market. Regardless of style or design, most dresses range in price from $18-$45 (depending upon the popularity of the tailor you choose). Full suits (for both men and women) are easily found for under $150. For additional shopping tips, check out this article I wrote for Go! Girl Guides.
The only downside to our Hoi An shopping spree? Having to tote our new belongings on our already over-weighted bicycles!
Have you been to Hoi An? What did you purchase? How was your experience?
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Through the Eyes of a Veteran: Tour de Vietnam: Cycling Northern
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An Unexpectedly Wonderful Town 4 Reasons to Love Dong Hoi
Tour de Vietnam: Cycling Central Vietnam Navigating Hue’s Ancient Past
Our Most Terrifying Moment Cycling Hoi An for Non-Shoppers
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An Introduction to Vietnamese The Ultimate Guide to Cycling
This is possibly the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard…!
Julia recently posted…Enter our photo contest to win jewelry by FaconFacon!
When we heard they could make anything we decided to put it to the test and boy did they deliver!
It’s funny how priorities change once you’ve been traveling for a while and hit the road: when Tony & I first started planning our trip, Hoi An was one of the places we were most excited to visit in Vietnam and #1 on our list of things to do was get a new wardrobe made. In reality, by the time we hit the city, neither of us could stomach doing any kind of shopping and we never stepped inside a tailor shop once! I think if we ever passed through HA again, I’d maybe see about getting some functional clothes made, but I know that by the time we make it home, all of the fancy dresses that are being stored in my parents’ basement are going to feel like the best (and most overwhelming!) shopping spree ever. The thing that I found the most difficult to resist in HA were all of the shoes you could get made… I did allow myself to try on a few pairs just for funsies, but if I’d had any extra room in my pack, I’m not sure if I could have walked away empty-handed!
Anyway, even though shopping in Hoi An was a non-starter for me, I still love the dresses you came up with. It’s a shame you couldn’t get the chevron pattern, but the blue you picked instead is really lovely and if you do wear it on the road, it’ll probably look cleaner for longer!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…One Weird, Wild Christmas
We were lucky we were cycling or we would have been in a looot of trouble. It’s pretty easy to get carried away and find yourself with an all new wardrobe.
How cool! Great idea to pin and then take those outfits to the tailor. They did a great job!
Jennifer recently posted…Tips for Using the Moscow Metro
We were very impressed with the quality! They did a great job. :-)
This is really cool. My husband has traveled to Korea and returned with custom clothes, but nothing as stylish as yours. I really like the way you did this post. Thanks for sharing.
Rhonda Albom recently posted…I Can Shoot A Machine Gun And Get Alien Gas From Uranus in the Arizona Desert
We got really excited when we heard they can replicate “anything” so we thought we’d put it to the test. Now I believe it :-)
Your dresses are so cute! This is the 3rd or 4th blog I’ve seen raving about the tailors in Hoi An… must.. get.. to… Vietnam…
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted…Doing my part – a lionfish recipe.
Thanks! The Hoi An tailors are pretty spectacular. I hope you get the chance to go! :-)
You are a genius and those tailors are amazing! Now I know how I’ll be spending my days before heading to Hoi An!
Heather recently posted…Afternoon Tea at the Puli Hotel, Shanghai
We knew they were good, but I though we would put them to the test. :-p They really did a great job!
I meant to get a tailored suit when in Beijing years ago visiting my cousin. Sadly it never happened. Now I’ll have to add Hoi An to my list of next places to visit.
We felt like it would be a crime not to take advantage of the deals in Hoi An, even if we did have to cycle with it :-p
I am in Hoi An now and things are not that cheap. I think if you want something custom, you are better off going to Bangkok. The astronomical rise in the US dollar has made everything more expensive here!
Plus the suits do not really look good.
We’re going to Hoi An at the end of this month- do you remember the prices for each dress? Love it!
Hello and Thank you for your great article :)
My boyfriend and me just arrived in Hoi An.
Do you remember the name of the “company” or exactly from the tailors you spoke with ?
Would be really happy about an answer.
Sorry, just found the name of the tailor above.
So what do you mean with a bit more dollars ? ;)
(How much ca. for one)