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Hoi An Fashion Euphoria

Fashion-obsessed folks: keep a napkin poised by your mouth to wipe the drool this article will induce.

Hoi An, Vietnam has been in the news recently for being under four feet of rainwater from a typhoon. Shell-shocked tourists recalled the five days they spent, trapped on the highest floor of their hotels, endlessly playing cards and slurping instant noodles.

Normally, however, Hoi An is famous for a more colorful, delightful reason: custom-made clothing!

Hundreds upon hundreds of rainbow silk clothing stores line Hoi An’s ancient streets, and Vietnamese women point to the shimmering outfits on the mannequins, calling, “We make in your size!”

The town is small, golden-yellow-walled, and filled with delighted tourists. Every few blocks, a swirly-roofed temple peeks from behind an ornate gate. Cross the arched bridge above the coffee-colored river to a line of restaurants which tout Hoi An’s culinary specialties. Our favorite was “white rose”: a soft and succulent shrimp dumpling!

So how do the custom-made clothing (and shoe!) stores work? Walk in, pick a style from the mannequin models, a pattern book, or your own favorite clothing, pick a fabric (there are absolutely gorgeous silks fresh from the silk farms and factories in the countryside), get measured, and wait a few hours. Presto: you have an amazing new outfit!

Alas, it was pouring rain in Hoi An and we feared another typhoon, and thus we hightailed it out of town before I could get my dream dress of luminous purple and green silk.

Hoi An, you are as lovely as everyone says, and perhaps one day I shall return and buy you up and down!

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