Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tailored Clothes

I don't like shopping because I get discouraged whenever I try on clothes met with disappointment after disappointment of fashion being too small, too tight, or too big.

I like going to tailors; however, I am very bad at bargaining. I also feel bad that labor is so cheap and undervalued. I tend to pay more than what the locals would pay.

I spent 90 RMB ($13) to have a Chinese blouse made out of hand-dyed blue yunnan fabric that cost 25 RMB ($4) per meter plus some. It has a high collar with handmade buttons and is long for a blouse but too short for a dress. My sitemate says that the work is high quality.

I know that I was ripped off though. Why? Because when I asked how much it would cost to have a skirt made, the two women discussed the price in rapid Chinese before giving me a quote. From what I gathered from the bits and pieces I caught of their private conversation, one woman gave a cheap price while the other said, "No. That is too cheap. She paid 90 RMB for the blouse." The problem is I didn't catch the price they were debating about. In clear Chinese they quoted me, "60 RMB to make a skirt."

Why did I not think 90 RMB was too much? Well, to have a medium quality silk dress made where the fabric is included in the price, it costs 260 RMB ($38). What percentage of that price is labor versus materials?

I have had other things made where the fabric was included in the price. A white short sleeved button dress shirt cost 85 RMB ($12.50). Pants cost 60-90 RMB ($8-13), and a skirt with added embroidery cost 120 RMB ($18).

I still have fabric left over from Yunnan and want to have skirt and a sun-dress made. When I went to my usual tailor she refused to make a skirt out of the fabric. "It would not be beautiful," she said and then showed me how to just wrap it into a skirt African style. After I told my sitemate that story, she decided just to hand sew her own skirt out of the blue fabric.

So, how much should I pay to have a skirt and a sun-dress made? I was thinking 100 RMB ($15) for the both of them. Does that seem too much or too little?


Dr. Jen said...

I found a tailor who would make a simple skirt for 30 RMB ($4.50)

youja said...

I'm a PC invitee right now, looking forward to going to China in July.

I'm glad to see this post. Most of the blogs I'm following that update regularly are men, so they haven't really touched on the clothing issue.

I was worried about finding clothes since I am an average sized American woman. I'd heard about tailoring things, but was worried about the price of that (since here it would be exorbitant to have clothes custom made.)

So basically, I was glad to see this post. It put one (of several) small nagging worries aside.

Please keep writing, your journal is in-depth, genuine, and very helpful to all us future PCVs.


Dr. Jen said...

Welcome to China.... if you have any questions feel free to ask. You can post your questions and e-mail. I will not publish people's emails and personal questions in the public comment section.

Chinese clothing and shoes do not often match western fashion taste. Plus they don't always fit. My sitemate who is quite tall has bought very very few pieces of clothing in China. She has never bought shoes. Also, she doesn't get clothing tailor made.

After living in China for two years, we have learned how to wear the same outfits over and over again in the same week like our Chinese teacher counterparts and students who only have maybe 1 or 2 outfits that they wear all week.