It was in the middle of December – 2 months away before Chinese New Year, 12-year-old Chen Li was getting a little anxious as she has yet to get her Chinese New Year’s clothes around that time for the past subsequent years as her mother would bring her to the tailor to get them made.
“Mommy are we going to Auntie Goh to get her to make our cheongsam for Chinese New Year?” she asked her mother who was reading the newspaper while reclined on her rattan-made lazy chair.
“Eh, is it already the time to go make new clothes? Okay, tomorrow morning after breakfast, we will go see Auntie Goh. Go tell your sister too,” Chen Li’s mother said as she continued reading the newspaper.
“Thank you, mommy!” Chen Li replied as she ran back to her room to inform her sister about tomorrow’s plan.
That night, Chen Li was excited as she had always looked forward to receiving her Chinese New Year’s clothes and because of her excitement, she had difficulty falling asleep.
“Oh no, if I can’t sleep, I won’t be able to wake up on time to go to Auntie Goh’s shop,” she thought to herself as she forced her eyes closed in hopes she would eventually fall asleep.
The next morning, Chen Li’s sister had to nudge her to wake her up. “Jie (elder sister), time to wake up. Mommy is calling for us to get ready,” said her younger sister.
“Oh no! I am getting ready now. Tell mommy I will just need five minutes,” she said as she ran to the bathroom to wash up.
Once Chen Li has gotten ready, the three of them departed to Auntie Goh’s tailor/dress making shop located at the town centre.
As they reached, Chen Li saw Auntie Goh taking the body measurement of one of her customers while her assistant is pulling out a few different fabric materials for the customer to choose from.
Auntie Goh noticed Chen Li and her family’s arrival at her shop, “I will be with you in a while, Mrs. Wong,” she said as she instructed her assistant to help out her existing customer.
Auntie Goh apologized to Chen Li’s mother for the delay, “Sorry, Mrs. Wong, was occupied with the last customer. Everyone is getting ready for Chinese New Year. I am assuming you’re here to make new clothes for yourself and your daughters.”
Chen Li’s mother nodded and said, “I actually almost forgot that we haven’t gotten our Chinese New Year’s clothes made until Chen Li reminded me.”
Auntie Goh looked at Chen Li and gave her a thumb up, “Good that you reminded your mommy. Come, come, let auntie measure both you and your sister. Do you know what you want for auntie to sew for this Chinese New Year?” she asked the two girls.
Chen Li replied, “Can Auntie Goh make me a pink cheongsam?” While her younger sister asked for the same.
“No problem, auntie can do it for you,” Auntie Goh said as she took their measurements.
As Chen Li and her sister were getting their measurements taken, they could hear the sound of the sewing machine coming into the shop.
Chen Li was a little worried and asked, “Auntie Goh, would you be able to get our cheongsam done before Chinese New Year?
“Of course, can lah, Chen Li. I will need about a month. Don’t worry lah, you will get your cheongsam before Chinese New Year,” Auntie Goh assured her.
When was your last visit to the tailor? Are they hard to come by today? Long before fast fashion became the new standard, we would visit the tailor to get our clothes handmade by the seamstress behind her humble sewing machine. At the same time, we could get our clothes adjusted and repaired at the tailor shop. Unlike today where there are many clothes shops, we would hardly need to visit the tailor unless we want to get a full suit and jacket for special occasions like a wedding or etc. Do you believe this profession is no longer required in today’s society?