“This one!” Brigid insisted to me.
In May, we were in Sanlitun to browse fabrics for new summer clothes. Myles had already picked the material he wanted for his shirt and pants, but I wasn’t a fan of the bolt Brigid wanted. It was a repeating pattern of pastel flip-flops on a white background. To me, it looked like old, sun-bleached bed sheets but all Brigid could see was her new dress.
Visiting the tailor has grown into a springtime ritual for us. We pick a day to visit Yashow and head to stall 3066 – also known to us as Wendy’s shop – while evading the women pushing scarves and t-shirts. Both Myles and Brigid look forward to this.
To my friends and family at home, being able to take my kids to the tailor seems like an extravagance. It is, however, for us a very practical solution to a common problem. Shopping for clothes is not fun for young kids and parents. Everyone’s patience is stretched as clothes are tried on, then discarded; participants are often reduced to tears.
I had already gotten into the habit of having my clothes made since arriving in Shenzhen over eight years ago. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I would never find anything in my size on the rack. I am not exaggerating when I say that going to the tailor drastically improved my China experience in those early days – and continues to do so.
After we moved to Changping a few years later, I was distressed about not finding any tailors in our part of Beijing. Luckily, the Beijinger came to my rescue. I searched the listings for tailors, choosing Yashow 3066 simply because it was the only one I knew how to find. From the beginning, I’ve been so happy with Wendy’s work – including several dresses, pants, and a cashmere coat – that I haven’t bothered to look elsewhere.
When I needed a dress shirt and a pair of pants for Myles’ First Communion, I loathed the thought of dragging him store-to-store to find them. Instead, we asked Wendy’s if they were comfortable making kids’ clothing; they were. Within minutes, Myles was measured and he’d picked out his fabrics. A week later, the garments were ready. The whole process was blessedly short and actually fun.
Brigid has joined us in the years since. Last year, her choice of fabric also caused me concern initially. It was dark orange with circus-like ball print in bright blues, reds, and yellows. But then, I was completely surprised by the end result – maybe it was tailor magic, or maybe my daughter has an eye for fashion. All summer long, Brigid received compliments on her unique and expensive-looking dress.
So back to May 2014. There I was, looking at my 5-year-old asking for what looked like faded bedding. She was right once, I figured; maybe she does have better fashion sense than I do.
The following week, we were back at Wendy’s to pick up our new clothes. When they pulled out Brigid’s dress, I was stunned. It looked nothing like sun-bleached sheets but rather a darling, sun-kissed vintage frock.
At the same time, one of the tailors told us some disappointing news: The dress that I’d commissioned wasn’t finished because the shop didn’t have enough of the fabric I wanted. I had to pick something else.
I turned to Brigid, seeking her opinion. It was clear she had an eye for this.
Illustration by Sunzheng
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email email@example.com.