the life, tailored…


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!

The fabric aisles down Russian Market! And that's Rithy's cousin Srey Mom handling my cotton ikat!

Ba-ba-ba-batik at Russian Market!

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!”

These are the pieces I’m getting made!  1) American Apparel (discontinued dress) in that crazy pattern, 2) Tory Burch in a mustard yellow linen, and 3) DVF Kiomo Wrap Dress in an ikat pattern!

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?!?

And here is my wildcard...I just have no idea what to do with this amazing silk I found at Russian Market?! Any ideas?

All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff.  Please do not reproduce or use without permission).


24 thoughts on “the life, tailored…

  1. After reading this, I’m off to Monika right now. Need a dress made within the month – hope she can do it. Thanks for the tips!

  2. So happy I could help! Happy tailoring!

  3. She bashed it out in 10 days, bless her – I needed it STAT for a wedding. She did a beautiful job with it; well worth every penny. Thanks again.

  4. I’m stopping by Phnom Penh and hoping to get a few dresses copied. Thanks for the advice!

  5. How did the dresses turn out? I really want to get that DVF copied in a nice silk print.

  6. it turned out oh so perfectly! i would just recommend using a thicker fabric which would hold up so much better since the one pattern i picked out was a really fine cotton. a nice silk should do just fine! i’m getting another copy in my red striped silk too!

  7. ooh, thanks! I am going to see Monika this weekend and I’m going to make a version of the DVF! Super excited.

  8. Pingback: waveform… « infinitiff

  9. Hi,
    I’m new to Phnom Penh and came across your blog when looking for tailors. Can you advise of the best place to buy cotton? I’ve been told not the Russian Market and that it is also hard to find, is this true in your experience?? Thanks!

    • Hi Abby!

      Welcome to the Penh!!! Fabric buying is really fun here, but it is sometimes hard to find that perfect cotton you’re looking for. Russian Market is definitely limited in its selection (though you can stumble upon some great patterns) compared to Olympic Market. Olympic Market’s got one of the best selections in fabric in PP! I even found cotton jersey there and some really stunning batik material that is beyond what is available at Russian Market. It’s a bit of a maze, but the fabric is located on the east building of Olympic Market, and i think on the 2nd floor. You might have to ask around for it, but you’ll definitely know when you’ve arrived.

  10. Hi, just wondering. I’m popping by phnom penh next feb and was wondering where I can get a decent tailored men’s suit within a few days? Thanks so much!

    • Hi there! your best bet for men’s suiting is actually in vietnam – specifically hoi an, where their tailors are super fast and high quality. but if you’re stuck with phnom penh, Monika’s a really good bet. she regularly suits up every summer’s legal interns with high quality pieces. if you want to spend more, there’s also ambre (House 37, street 178) which is a bit pricier and high end. have fun tailoring when you’re here!

  11. Hey, thanks for your post. I usually go to Monika but she’s swamped at the moment. Would you *not* go to Shocking Pink with a more difficult fabric? I have a beautiful Italian silk which is precious and I’m not 100% sure about the style, would need to discuss with the tailor to see what they reckon is best to do, so need someone confident and able. And capable to do it within two weeks, even with the King Father’s funeral and Chinese New Year coming up!

  12. Hi, I just have a chance to stay in PP for couple months, and i found your blog. Right away I brought my silk to Monika and she finished it only in 2 weeks. It turns out perfectly. I am so amaze to see the result, neat and exact to what I want, no need correction at all after 1st fitting. I chose a formal sack dress from Isa London website, I printed out the copy and gave to Monika. I love my dress. Thanks a million for your information. Not many people eager to share a good info. Thanks again 🙂

  13. Hello,
    i’m really happy i found your blog… and it seems i’m not the only one 😉
    I’ve just arrived in PP, here for few days and will come back in 2 weeks. I’ve tried to find Monika today but couldn’t find her shop.
    I went to the 2 roads beside the temple and obviously it was not there. I might have missed an information (sorry, i’m french and might have misunderstood). Could you please help me to find her ?
    You said she is selling silk, what about cotton or fabric with patterns ?

    Thank you so much
    Delphine, the lost french girl 😉

  14. Hi Tiff. Do you know if there is possible to buy wool-ish fabric in the markeds? I live in norway and was thinking of geting tailored som warm coats, but they have to be in wool. Is this possible to find in PP?

    Caroline 🙂

    • yes but it might require a search! i would start in orussey and olympic markets because they have a much huger selection; but limited english. you may also want to inquire with the sellers at russian market. some do sell wool cashmere material for suiting! hope this helps! xoxo

  15. Hi I came across your great post on tailors while googling. I’m going to Phnom Penh and Siem reap for first time in Dec (5days in Phnom Penh and 4 days in siem reap).

    I want to tailor a full suit and dress. What would you advise me to go for a good tailor that can help me with my request?

    • Hi Jez! This will be tight but I think Monika, who’s address i provide in this blog post, might be able to help. She tends to be pretty busy these days and might say no to you, but you might want to give her a try while you’re in Phnom Penh and see if she’ll be up to charging extra for a rush job. She usually takes about 3 weeks. But if you will be in Vietnam, I suggest trying a tailor there. They work way faster! Hope this helps! xoxo tiff

  16. Hi, Came across this posting. I have an event in two days so I basically have only 1 day to go buy silk ikat fabric and find Monika. I just need a basic gather skirt with pockets. Do you think it would be possible? and how much for the rush job?

    • Hi Ada! Sorry for this late late late reply. You can get this done. You will probably have to pay double to Monika. For a basic gathered skirt with pockets that has to be a rush job, i would say that it’s around $45. She just charged my friend $30 for the exact same thing but she had a month to do it. I hope this helps! Also come check out my new blog at! Good luck and I hope it looks fabulous!

  17. Oh and the red stripe silk fabric, a long A line skirt. It would look great with a fitted button shirt for the professional look or a basic T for a casual look. Feeling more expressive, a graphic T. All shirts tucked in of course.

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