I’m going to finish describing my Yaly experience here. Tomorrow, I’ll briefly describe my encounters with two other tailors in Hoi An.

Here’s the final score: of the 5 shirts I ordered, I was perfectly happy with 3. The 4th was too tight. It’ll be fine when I lose weight, but that’s not an acceptable standard for custom-made. I’m still undecided on the 5th shirt. I’ll post a picture of it soon to see what you think.

At my last fitting, Genia walked around the store with me, pulling fabrics that I liked. When I picked up my final shirts, she gave me two papers–one with numbered jersey swatches (below), and the other with numbered stretch woven cottons. She kept copies for herself so that when I order a jersey tee in #5, for example, she’ll know that I mean the turquoise in this picture. If they run out of the exact fabric, she can give me something similar.

Now let me run the shipping math for you. For three of my shirts, weighing a total of 1.5 kilos:

  • Airmail costs $33, takes 3-4 weeks, arrives at the post office, and is not trackable
  • EMS costs $61, takes 7-10 days, arrives door-to-door, and is trackable
  • Sea is cheapest, but I didn’t get the #; it takes 3-4 months and must be picked up at the port

So if I order 3 shirts at $25 each and pay $61 for shipping, the final price of each shirt comes to $45.33. Read my assessment of the risks after the jump.

Risk #1: What if they make the “too tight” version of a shirt instead of the “just right” version? I’m not sure how two shirts in an identical style could have fit so differently. Here’s one possible explanation. Genia explained that if a friend of mine sends her measurements to them to order a shirt, she must specify whether she wants it “a little tight” or “a little loose”. Either I had two different seamstresses who interpreted my measurements very differently, or I had one seamstress who gave me one shirt “a little tight” and the other “a little loose”.

  • Risk #2: What if I gain or lose weight? I’m not sure. I’d probably send them my new measurements, along with a picture of how the current shirts fit my current weight. Unless Yaly makes the shirt too tight, alterations in the States shouldn’t be too hard. (“Shouldn’t” is the operative word here. I find alterations are always complicated in the States.)

  • Risk #3: What if I want something different made without having any fitting?

    This is so tempting. I would love to have a jacket made in the watermelon-colored tweed below. And I would love to have a cool winter coat made like the one in their show room in the second picture below. Can you imagine having a stylish, fitted winter coat that buttons over your bust?? I can’t find my notes with the prices Genia quoted me, but they were each well below $100.

  • Unfortunately, I am now a convert to the miracle of fittings, and I will never risk purchasing anything custom-made without having fittings.

    This is why you need at least a week in Hoi An. Once you see the possibilities of what you can have made, you won’t want to stop. And the more classic styles you can have made for re-ordering later, the greater your investment return.

    My four short days in Hoi An showed me that having clothing custom-made overseas is a serious option for women who cannot get the fit they want from mainstream ready-to-wear. You should take a look at your budget and your vacation days to see if this is something you can do!