Boobs, hips and butts (and height if you’ve got it) don’t really fit with the mainstream Khmer fashion and body aesthetic. Trolling through the markets can get sweaty. The Export stores can get repetitive and boring. And hey – everyone needs a suit. So where to find those perfect pieces in Phnom Penh?
Over the years living here, I got a tad obsessed. Prêt à porter was only going so far for me. But more so – I just loved the thought of putting my own personal touches on a dress, jacket or suit, or copying that piece that fits you just right but has seen better days. Picking the fabrics, determining the cuts, and getting it to fit just right. The whole process can prove a bit daunting for the beginner – so I thought I’d help walk any novices through the whole thing in PP!
First you’ve got to find the fabric. Sometimes finding the right pattern and texture can inspire a new piece! I do most of my fabric shopping at Psar Tuol Tom Puong (Russian Market). They have a great selection…and I’ve got a great fabric guy named Rithy (who just had a baby!) who knows his way around textiles and is always honest with me about quality and style. He’ll wrap a sunny pattern around me and say “that makes a great sundress!”
And once you’ve picked out your fabric and the piece you want to get made (fashion mags and other people’s wardrobes help out!) – it’s off to the tailor!
My most trustworthy tailors in Phnom Penh are Monika and Srey Oun at Shocking Pink. They are both tiny Khmer ladies who know the worth of a quality stitch and a good fit and speak English pretty darn well. They even remembered me (and my measurements!) after more than a year away!
Monika, who is just located around the corner from Russian Market, is a busy lady. She’s literally backlogged by all the orders coming in from the expatriate population here in Phnom Penh. And why? She’s got skills and can handle more delicate fabrics or complicated designs like pleats and patterned stitching. And she always greets you with the warmest smile that makes you feel like you’re oh so welcome into her home and atélier. I’ve always been happy with the suits, pants and dresses she’s made for me. But this does come at a cost – she charges considerably more for her work – like $20-ish for a dress. And there is another caveat – she is so incredibly busy that pieces might take as long as 1 month to finish! So having an order expedited will come at an additional cost. And a Monika tip for you all – bring your own fabric because the textiles that she offers tend to be a bit pricey! But nonetheless – Monika is an incredibly sweet tiny lady and her finished pieces are worth the wait and cost.
On the other hand – there’s Srey Oun at Shocking Pink. Yup – what a cute name for a tiny little tailor shop located on Street 282 and it happens to be my other little Phnom Penh secret. Srey Oun handles simpler dresses – like the American Apparel copy that I plan to get made (again actually – the current one is on its last days). And for a cheaper price and faster turnaround time too! About $15-20 for dresses and only 1 week for a finished product! Huzzah!
And for you guys – D just got a great pair of dress-pants made for $26 (including fabric) at Mondiaux Tailor, across the street from Lucky Market on Sihanouk! Great shirts can be found at the Elsewhere Store on Street 278 and for a great high-quality tailored shirt, check out Ambre on Street 178.
So if you’re in PP for a bit and want to spruce up the wardrobe with some custom designs – get tailored! And another regional tailoring tip – Vietnam is amazing for great custom pieces and incredibly fast turnaround times! So hit up those tailors if you’re ever visiting Hanoi, Hué or Saigon for a short while.
Monika Tailor is located across the street from Wat Tuol Tom Puong on Mao Tse Tun Blvd and down an alley. Look out for her blue sign!
Shocking Pink is located at House #27 on Street 282 (between Monivong Blvd. and Street 63).
Elsewhere, The Shop – House #2, Street 278
Ambre – House #37, Street 178
Oooh, and one more thing! What should I do with this?!?
All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff. Please do not reproduce or use without permission).