Perhaps the thing I most regret about living in China is the lack of opportunity to find good shopping. I’ve been to the malls, the little bargaining places, and street bazaars all over Asia, and although I have found interesting and cheap finds, shopping really just can’t compare to the United States in terms of quality, quantity, price, and style.
Believe it or not, I actually think the United States is cheaper than the shopping in China, especially at malls. I can never find cowl neck sweaters, fingerless gloves, or cashmere cardigans here; only cheap T shirts and ugly sweatpants. That isn’t to say that there isn’t anything good- it just takes too much effort to locate these clothes in a dingy corner of some building and bargain, only to find that you don’t really like what you have purchased and have no opportunity of returning the items.
So, I found a solution. I started having my clothes made at the tailors. The advantages to this plan are that everything fits, the price is reasonable, and I can choose the colors, material, and fabric. Sometimes I find pictures off the internet and other times I design or combine designs to make the perfect article of clothing. The best part is, no one else has the same thing as you. No more worrying about showing up to class wearing the exact same sweatshirt as someone else or donning similar-but-identical looking outfits. So far, I have been very pleased with all the results.
Of course, there are also disadvantages to making your own clothes. You have to have a very keen eye for detail and know exactly what you want. Above all, you have to place complete trust into your tailor’s hands. Also, the clothing you make aren’t brand name. I know that’s shallow, but I like having tags.
I’ve made skirts, tops, pants, shorts, sweaters- basically anything imaginable. Here are a few examples of what I have made and how they turned out.
- Black Skirt (back view): I got the idea for this skirt with the lace up back from Urban Outfitters. Since I’ve had it made, it’s become my favorite skirt. It can be worn casually or formally and matches practically everything. I added a layer of tulle inside the skirt so that it was more poofy and less flat.
- Floral Skirt: I was actually looking for a tie dye type pattern for this skirt, but the tailor didn’t have any, so I settled for a subtle brown and white pattern. This turned out to be a good decision, because I really liked the results. I took this to Hawaii for a beachy, boho vibe.
- Velvet Skirt: I love velvet. I have velvet trousers, shorts, skirts, and blazers. Velvet is just such a soft and warm material. I don’t remember why I made this two colors, but I think it’s because I wanted to match this skirt with my blazer, which is also a dark red velvet. The colors are apparent in this picture, but when I wear it, the skirt just looks black, which is actually how I like it.
- Purple Silk Skirt: I don’t really like this skirt. It stains too easily, and coming from someone who gets toothpaste on her shirt every day, this is not a good skirt. I wear this skirt to nicer restaurants and it can also work for formal occasions.
- Black Blazer: I wanted a blazer for a while, but I couldn’t find a cheap one that was the right style. I chose a striped lining for the inside so that I can roll the sleeves up if it gets hot. This is my go to blazer for airplane travel. Even though the material has a denim ish feel, it’s surprisingly comfortable.
- Black Tuxedo Blazer: I was trying to make a fleece blazer, but the tailor didn’t have cotton or fleece. This blazer was the result of a fleece style blazer with different material. I like this blazer and the inside is very smooth. It’s a more cropped version then the previous black blazer, so they are different, even if they don’t look like it.
- Velvet Blazer: I saw a velvet blazer on AE once, but it was a weird design, so I didn’t get it. Instead, I went and had one made. This matches the velvet skirt from above, although I don’t think I would ever wear a matching set of anything.
- I haven’t had a chance to wear it yet, because I got it made last winter and I got it back in February, when it was too hot to wear it.
- Purple Cashmere Cardigan: Cashmere in China used to be cheap to make, but recently the price has risen so high it isn’t even worth it anymore. I actually don’t like this cardigan because the material is really itchy and not soft at all. However, I wanted a long, boyfriend cardigan in a bright color, since all my clothes are gray, black, or white. This cardigan can be worn with only leggings, because they are long enough to cover everything that needs to be covered.
- Gray Cashmere Sweater: I don’t know why I made this. I already had a perfectly good gray V neck sweater that looks exactly the same and doesn’t itch. However, one difference is that this sweater is longer so it too can be worn with only leggings.