Until recently, the most-worn item in my wardrobe, apart from a pair of white plimpsolls from Next that I replace every few months, was a tailored black jacket Ma Holman bought me as part of a skirt suit when I graduated, ‘for job interviews’ (she might have also had court appearances and funerals in mind).
Here I am in my old jacket, playing fast and loose with a black mascara wand next to a white top
As it happens, I’ve never had a job interview in my life that has required me to wear the whole suit – I’ve been known to turn up to an interview in jeans and Converse, thinking it was a ‘casual chat about freelance work,’ so the thought of me actually wearing the suit is pretty laughable.
Oh well, maybe she thought I’d have grown-up a bit by now and adjusted my professional style accordingly. Sorry mum!
Anyway, I digress. My favourite jacket has died. The lining has torn for the third time, it’s constantly fraying and there’s a tiny hole underneath the armpit.
Being a natural scruff bag I’d be happy to overlook all these natural signs of patina, but there was one thing I couldn’t ignore. No matter how many times I got my jacket dry cleaned, it was definitely starting to smell a bit like a goat. I know, I'm gross.
Beloved smelly jacket goes to the hotel bin in the sky
I was gutted as I’ve never had a jacket that’s fit me as well. It’s nipped in at the waist, doesn’t present my bust with the tempting option to make a break for freedom every ten seconds, and comes with a great wide collar that’s perfect for flicking up when I’m in the (a) mood.
My recent holiday to Vietnam presented me with the perfect solution - I could get an exact copy made. Incidentally, did I mention that I’ve just been on holiday to Vietnam? Don’t worry I know it's getting old now, I promise never to bring it up again after this.
So, I took my beloved smelly jacket on an 15 hour plane ride across the globe. The sites we saw! The things we did! The people we met!
Erm anyway, once we got to Hoi An, the home of bespoke tailoring (there's at least five tailors on every street), I dropped it off at the nearest reputable-looking joint and asked the lovely lady inside if she could make me an exact copy (I went for somewhere nice as I didn't want to discover that there was some poor girl in the back being forced to work all night for about 10p. I could go to certain sections of the high street for that).
Hoi An's number one tailor. Also the only one I actually tried.
The guide book warns against going anywhere that offers too much for too little – essentially if they’re promising you a wildly cheap price and a stupidly fast turnaround, you’ll probably lose out on quality.
However T&C Tailors were ace. They went through a whole bunch of different fabrics with me, advising on which one were the closest match to my existing jacket, with suggestions for which ones would work with the cut I wanted.
I opted for a heavier cotton than I had with the first jacket, which makes my new one feel more structured and actually better made than the original. I also went for tougher lining this time, so it wouldn’t wither away at the mere sight of a moth.
For 1,000,000 dong (about £36) they promised to have my new jacket ready for me the next morning, which allowed enough time for me to try it on and get any adjustments made before we left.
The end result was fantastic – exactly the same cut as my previous jacket, but in a thicker material. They’d even managed to copy the piping inside and the cute stitching around the collar.
My new jacket! Yes, I know it's a bit crumpled, but that's because, true to form, I've been sitting on it all day.
For me, £36 is a massive bargain for such a well-made jacket. It was by no means the cheapest place I could have gone to, but I knew I was going to get something well-made, and the money I was spending on it was going to go directly to the person who’d actually put the work into it in the first place.
PLUS, I don't smell like a goat any more, which is good news for me, and even better news for Phoebe.