Buying Western-sized clothing in Hanoi is hard to do. Many expats and travelers struggle to find clothing in their size that is not from an expensive international brand. The cheapest way to have Western-sized clothing is to get clothing handmade by a local tailor. Not only is it cheap, but it is also so much fun to design your own clothing with the help of a tailor.
Buy your fabrics from Cho Hom Market
Tailors in Hanoi have some fabrics in stock, but often do not have a wide variety of colors and patterns. Therefore, you should go to Cho Hom Market to buy your fabrics. Cho Hom Market is located at the corner of Pho Hue and Nguyen Cong Tru. The second floor of the market is a giant fabric market, with dozens of individual stalls and vendors. The important thing to remember is to show the vendors what design you want the fabric for. Come with pictures of the dress, top, skirt, or design that you want. The vendor will then tell you how much of the fabric you will need in order to make the item of clothing. The amount of fabric needed is determined by the design and by the type of fabric used. One meter of silk costs around 100,000 VND (4.46 USD). A meter of jersey cotton costs around 150,000 VND (6.70 USD). For dresses and skirts, you will most likely need one or two meters of fabric.
Also, be sure to wander around the market before buying anything to make sure you get the exact fabric that you want. Often, different vendors will have the same fabric, so you can haggle for a better price. Do not express how much you love a fabric to the seller! If they know for certain that you are going to buy the fabric, they will not lower the price because they know they can get a high price from you.
Go to a tailor with designs
You can easily find a tailor in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Tailors in the Old Quarter are able to make your clothes quickly, usually within two or three days. Due to the speed of their service, they will also be more expensive than a tailor you find outside of the Old Quarter. However, tailors outside of the Old Quarter may take up to 10 days to make your clothing. If you are just passing through, it is worth paying a little more for the faster service. A simple dress that sits above the knee will cost roughly 400,000 VND (17.84 USD) in the Old Quarter. The same dress outside of the Old Quarter will cost roughly 200,000 VND (8.90 USD). In order to find a good tailor, it is really worth getting some personal recommendations.
When you find a tailor you like, the tailor will take your measurements and ask you questions about each design to ensure you get exactly what you want. They will ask how long you want the item, if you want long or short sleeves, if you want pockets, and other design-specific questions. Be sure to email your tailor an image of the design you want so they have a reference. Leave your fabrics with the tailor and choose a day for you to come back.
Return to your tailor for the finished product
When you bring your fabric and designs to the tailor, they will tell you when to come back for a fitting. When you return, try on your new clothes. If the clothes need to be adjusted at all, the tailor will make the necessary notes about the changes. They will tell you to return a few hours later, or the following day, to try the item on again. However, if the item of clothing fits you well, pay your tailor and enjoy the new addition to your wardrobe.
Tailoring clothes in Hanoi is a bargain
In total, a simple above-the-knee dress made of jersey cotton will cost about 350,000 VND (15.60 USD) from a tailor outside the Old Quarter, but it will take more time to make. Alternatively, the same dress will cost roughly 550,000 VND (24.54 USD) from a tailor in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, but with a faster service. These costs include the price of the fabric from Cho Hom Market and the price for the tailor to make the dress. The price of having clothes custom-made in Hanoi is a bargain, especially if you bring a picture of an expensive piece of clothing to copy!