A few weeks ago, I had a major problem. I had to find an ao dai for an office event. And after finding an ao dai, I had to fit into it. How can I, a Pinay with fat genes can ever fit into an exquisitely tailored Vietnamese national dress meant to be worn by a statuesque Vietnamese lady? And it was the holidays. We were still in the feasting marathon.
But deep inside I was actually doing a little happy dance. I’ve always wanted to buy an ao dai even just for a souvenir. But since those things cost A LOT, having an event to go to was the perfect opportunity.
I asked my office mates on where to get one and I’d get locations far from the city center. Even if the price is cheaper, the cost of transportation itself will add up. I also found out that the cloth may be cheap but you have to pay a premium for tailoring.
I’ve also been fascinated with the shops along Dong Khoi and Mac Thi Buoi and I thought of checking them out as they’re the most accessible.
The cheapest ao dai I’ve seen is around 60 USD. It can go as high up as 450 USD. But then again, what do I know? My office mate told me though that 75 USD – 100 USD is a good price for an ao dai.
I’ve also found out it’s not easy having one tailor made. The art of making ao dai is meticulous and not all tailors agree to make one. And since I’m not one to choose intricate designs nor embroidery, I thought Orchids Silk along Dong Khoi St. fit my requirements perfectly. They’re more into the cut out dresses, fabric-designed, or the hand-painted ones.
I really, really like the hand painted ones. So I opted for an ao dai with a semi-closed collar with a hand painting of dandelions on a royal blue (my husband says it’s purple!) chiffon silk.
Orchids Silk listened to all my requests and the fitting was perfect albeit a little loose so I can move freely. I didn’t want it too snug because the ao dai is really made to accent the body but unfortunately, I have more bumps and waves that I don’t want advertised.
Overall, my first ao dai search is a happy experience. May be next time (if budget permits), I’d go for a more fun design.
Now off to buy a pair of shoes and a bag.