There is only one thing more ubiquitous than the colorful lanterns hanging everywhere in Hội An: tailors. Every second building in the old town is a shop overflowing with fabric, just waiting to be hand-crafted into a one-of-a-kind garment. In front of them, a legion of mannequins sport a small selection of clothing that can be cheaply made in a matter of hours.
We didn't intend on buying anything while we were here—until Pete and Natasha modeled the suit and dress they had bespoke a few days ago. They looked so good, I decided I should get a suit too. I've never once had dress clothing fit me properly; I'm 5'4", which usually puts me in the non-existent size of a men's extra small, or a boy's extra large.
Before our friends left for Hanoi, we all headed down to Yaly, one of the nicer tailor shops in town. Walking through the grand entrance, we were ushered inside warmly, then whisked into a world where everything was clean and classy and couture. In other words, I was in my own personal Bermuda triangle of uncharted territory.
The staff was very friendly and helpful as I bumbled around, trying to figure out what kind of suit I should get. As the ladies whipped out their tape measures, they peppered me with a zillion questions about my future outfit. And there, among the rows and stacks of fabric, I stood wide-eyed, not knowing how to answer a single one of them, feeling as awkward as a shy seventh grader in speech class.
Wool or synthetic? A cashmere blend? What kind of sleeves? Double cuffs, or single? Pleats or flat front? What style lapel? One jacket vent or two?
I'm sure they could tell I was totally clueless, because each time I opened my mouth to interject with, "I don't know?" or, "What is the difference?", they'd eye me up for a moment, make a suggestion, and move on to the next thing. It was actually a relief when they decided for me. I knew I would be pushing my limits on this trip, but I never thought I'd be intimidated by clothing.
Now, I'm heading in for my last fitting. I've finally stopped trying to button my own buttons, and I think I have some sort of a clue about what is going on. I'm sure I will always prefer my unlaundered, tattered merino wool, but a suit will probably come in handy at my next big software pitch; after all, if it weren't for those, we wouldn't be here in the first place.