Last year, Jesse and I showed a few visiting Seattlites around Hong Kong. They took us to Simpson Sin Tailor, which had recently been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show The Layover. When we were greeting at the door with ice cold beer, I knew right then and there that these were my kind of people. So when my sister told me she’d be in Hong Kong for my 30th birthday that July, I made plans for us to get our own custom-made qipao (or Cheongsam in Cantonese) dresses. What better nod to my time in China and Cat’s visit, amirite?

Hong Kong is hotter than the Devil’s armpit in July. We left the island around 10 AM but by the time we got to the tailor in TST, we were already sweating like pigs glistening like dew drop angels. Thankfully, we received respite in the form of seriously colder-than-a-witch’s-tit Tsingtao. Sure, it was 11 AM, but Cathy was running on Seattle time, so I’m pretty sure that granted us certain allowances. I was fully expecting we’d be there for an hour or two- the perfect amount of time to get tipsy and cool down. Except they were done measuring us in no more than 10 minutes. We had nothing else to do and it was starting to get awkward,  so with our bodies hardly cooled down, we wandered TST at 11:15 AM on a weekday with two huge cans of beer. After more than enough side-eyes from pedestrians, we decided to chug it so we 1.) wouldn’t notice the looks and 2.) wouldn’t care. This was good in theory but have you ever tried to discreetly down 24 ounces in high humidity on an empty stomach in a conservative part of town before noon?

We came back a few hours later for a second measuring. This time the designer and fabric supplier were there. Both are from Dongguan and when they heard I was a local girl (ok, local-ish), they got excited and told us they’d hook us up with really good work. A year and a half in Changping finally started yielding its fruit.

Our qipao dresses were finished in just a few days. I went for a blue qipao while Cathy opted for a traditional red qipao. Simpson Sin and the designer were proud of their handiwork (as they should be- my qipao is spectacular) that they asked us to pose for their wall. So if you find yourself in TST at Simpson Sin, look for the McEwen Sisters on the wall next to former President Clinton, Anthony Bourdain, and others.

getting measured
Getting measured
red qipao
blue qipao
Simpson Sin
Anthony Bourdain