Jasmine: On my mother’s side of the family, we have a collection of cheongsams courtesy of my grandmother, who used to get a cheongsam tailored for every formal occasion.
Here you’ll see my cousins and I modelling some of my grandmother’s cheongsams, some of which were made as early as the 1950s.
With that history in mind, I’ve decided to splurge on a tailor-made cheongsam of my own design for the upcoming wedding! I’ve been hearing unanimous rave reviews about a specialised cheongsam tailor in the East and last week I went down with Mr Chong for an appointment (don’t worry, it was just me making the cheongsam, not Andrew).
An array of silks, duchess satins, and laces to choose from
Jasmine: Wilson also made a couple of quick sketches based on the design I had in mind.
Jasmine: I’d actually envisioned a cheongsam with a streamlined, embellishment-free front but Wilson warned me that it would be too plain and insisted in Mandarin that “your guests will look better than you”.
In the end, we decided to have a little bit of lace running down from the collar to the ankles. The unbroken visual line should give me a much-needed semblance of tallness.
The way that Wilson does lace is also extremely labour-intensive. He cuts out lace flowers, arranges them, sews them onto the cheongsam by hand, and then adds beads or sequins around it so as to help it “blend” into the cheongsam fabric. This ensures that every customer gets a completely one-of-a-kind, made-to-measure cheongsam.
I’m very excited about collecting my cheongsam in three months’ time! I decided on a simple and clean design because I want to be able to wear this cheongsam when I’m 30, 40, 80 and then pass it down to my daughters and grand-daughters!
Andrew: I was really quite impressed with the tailor’s professionalism and advice. We’ve been doing lots of selection of wedding related items like clothes, cards etc. and I’m actually rather overwhelmed every time we go to a store with the whole range of choices of fabrics, patterns, colours etc. I’m so glad Dearie has such great taste that I can trust her to make such complicated choices! Heh.
Jasmine: Now, I highly de-recommend shopping with your man as it is boring for them and stressful for you. But as my appointment was only pencilled in at the last minute, I had no choice but to have Mr Chong tag along. A tip for ladies shopping with men. Before asking their advice, narrow down the choices to three or three options. This prevents them from getting overwhelmed. Also, keep them involved by assigning specific and manageable tasks i.e. “dear, would you help me take a picture of the sketch?” and praise them when they do so.
Andrew: Dearie has worn her grandmother’s cheongsam for her staff dinner before and she looked really good in it! I was really quite impressed with the tailor’s professionalism and advice. I can’t wait to see how this cheongsam turns out too!