I love cheongsams….

Despite being a ‘jiak kentang’ kind of girl (much influenced by western culture), I have a love for the cheongsams. My first cheongsam was a hand-me-down from an aunt, actually a couple of hand-me-downs. I I fell in love with the cheongsam ever since. To me, a cheongsam showcases the subtle sexiness of a woman and of course, the most important reason is I look damn good in it!

After I saw the movie ‘In The Mood For Love’, I was like “OMG! The cheongsams are gorgeous!” I swore I would get a wardrobe of my own.

Movie print for 'In The Mood For Love'

I checked out cheongsam shops and tailors. It’s either getting it off-the-rack or get it tailor-made. For off-the-rack, more than likely the cheongsam has to be altered since it’s so so important the dress fits well. The plus side is that off-the-rack cheongsams are usually cheaper than tailor-made ones. “Cloth.ier” (http://www.clothier.com.sg/) is an option for affordable cheongsams though you’ve to be rather selective because most of the prints either look dated or just not stylish. The shop provides alteration service at a price, but the measurements are taken by the sales girl and not the seamstress. It’s the same at ‘”Blum”, which offered beautifully designed modern cheongsams during this past Chinese New Year period.

Blum cheongsam with modern print, chosen by my husband

Blum cheongsam with black lace overlaying red lining

The problem with sales girl taking alteration measurements is that the alteration usually don’t turn out well and require repeat revisions. I bought 3 cheongsams this past CNY and regretted using Blum’s alteration service. Not only were the alterations not done well but I had to send them to my regular alteration shop to redo and worst, the shoddy alterations done at Blum could not be undone. So moral of the story: don’t use the alteration service at the shop if there’s no in-house seamstress/tailor to take measurements.

“Tong Tong Friendship Store” (http://www.tongtong.sg/) is another shop that offers modern cheongsams. It doesn’t offer in-house alteration service but direct customers to two external providers. I went to one located at BHG Bugis. Honestly, the workmanship isn’t that good either and the cheongsam also required repeat revisions for it to fit me well.

As for tailor-made cheongsams, one of the best shops around is Kang’s Boutique. At that time Kang’s was located at Concourse, Beach Road, near my workplace. I used to stop and ogle at the window display of sumptuous-looking cheongsams. So when I was getting married, I decided I must get my wedding cheongsam made at Kang’s, and the tailor, Gary, is a master cheongsam maker. Since then, I’ve discovered two other shops: “Hana” and “Lady Xiang”. Like Kang’s Boutique, I fell in love with the dresses displayed at Hana (hanafashion.biz). These are pictures of the dresses available during the CNY period.

Cheongsam with Japanese print

Me trying on the Jap-print cheongsam

A beautiful fuchsia pink cheongsam with a sexy halter cut

I had one cheongsam made at Hana, using a fabric I bought many years back in Beijing. The cost alone is S$800 and it doesn’t even include the piping nor buttons! But the workmanship is really good and all cheongsams are made by a master tailor in his 70s’. For those pre-made cheongsams featured above, the cost is doubled!

Cheongsam made at Hana

Last year I decided to approach Lady Xiang to try out their workmanship. I have always wanted to have a dress similar to those worn by the Shanghainese beauties featured in Tung Lok Group’s mooncake packaging. I actually brought along a paperbag with the picture printed on it, and it turned out the shop has the bottom right picture (lady in turqoise green cheongsam) readily available because a customer had one made in the exact same color.

TungLok Shanghainese beauties on the packaging of mooncakes

But I wanted somthing brighter and Lady Xiang has fabric available for selection, just like Kang’s and Hana. I always have a penchant for the traditional cut even though my husband keeps reminding me that we’re living in the 21st century and I should move on with the time. I guess I’ve this starry-eyed fascination with the 1930s Shanghainese ladies. I must say the workmanship is comparable with Hana and costs half the price. The measurements are taken by an in-house tailor who would then make the prototype. After trying on and adjustments taken, the dress is then sent to Beijing to be made. What I like about the cheongsam tailoring shops is that the tailor is available to make accurate alterations, even on the spot. I’ve never had to go for more than 2 tries to have a fitting cheongsam ready.

Cheongsam made at Lady Xiang

I’ve 12 cheongsams now and I know many are taken aback by the number, but I don’t think I’ve too many. I hope to collect more cheongsams in the years to come though my husband thinks I may be going overboard with my love affair. So for the time being, I’m collecting images instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is a beautiful design which I would like to have it tailor-made