Here’s a little story about the time we accidentally spent a grand on a tux at Sam’s Tailor in Hong Kong.
We’d decided to go to Hong Kong because our friends Matt and Justine had tickets to a New Year’s party at the Ozone Bar, which is the tallest bar in the world, located on the 118 floor of the Ritz Carlton. I immediately started thinking of reasons we should go. Number 1: If you’re going to go to a party to ring in the New Year, why shouldn’t it be at the highest party in the world? Number 2: The dress code was “Hollywood Red Carpet” and I hadn’t had an excuse to wear a gown (or to see my husband in a tux) in far too long. Number 3: We’d never been to Hong Kong. Dane was convinced. I insta-stalked our friend Whitney who has the best collection of dresses in all the land, and she happily mailed – not one – but two across the world to me. #sisterhoodofthetravelingdress (sorry I couldn’t resist!) Dane had nothing to wear, but that was an issue we’d address in Hong Kong.
We landed at HKG a little after 2 p.m. We’d been told the best way to get from the airport to the city was to take the “train to the city”. I was just about to ask someone which train takes you to the city when we saw a sign that said “Train tickets to the city”. Clear enough. Good on you, Hong Kong. That was our first impression of Hong Kong transportation, and it never got much more difficult. By day two in HK, I was more comfortable navigating the metro than I had been by month two living in New York.
The train brought us to a bus station, where we were able to hop on a free shuttle bus to our hotel. Each shuttle bus stops at 5 or 6 major hotels broken up geographically, but we didn’t have to show a reservation or anything, so my guess is that you can get wherever you need to be by just finding out which hotel is closest to it.
We arrived at our hotel, the Gloucester Luk Kwok (on the Hong Kong side), just before 4pm. There was a fruit bowl and plate of cookies and tea awaiting us in the room upon arrival. Nice touch!
Our first order of business upon arriving in Hong Kong was to get to Sam’s Tailor to have Dane fitted for a tux. He didn’t own one, and we figured if you are going to get one, it might as well be custom made by a guy who has made suits for every politician and half the movie stars I’ve ever heard of. I’d messaged Sam a few weeks before our arrival and he said there was a chance he could get it done on our timeline (2.5 days) if we got came in as soon as we arrived in Hong Kong. We quickly changed and headed out. Sam closes his doors at 7 p.m.
The Google Maps app got us door to door with very little effort. Around 4 p.m. we saw a sign for “Sam’s Tailor” and followed its arrow down a long corridor that ended at a small tailor shop. The place was packed with Americans and Brits and the walls were papered with pictures of famous faces.
A young lady approached us with a clipboard and asked how she could help us. I quickly explained our situation and mentioned that I had exchanged several messages with the shop a few weeks prior. She was shaking her head at the timeline when an older Indian man joined us. Judging from the countless pictures framed on the walls, this man was Sam. I explained again and he signaled for someone else to come over and start measuring Dane. All of a sudden he was opening beers for us and making small talk while someone else measured Dane’s inseam. Excellent. We were in.
“Have you really designed for all of these presidents?” I asked him. “What do you think?” he responded winking at me. I’m a sucker for a winker. I decided right then I’d have to write a post about good ole Sam. “You remind me of a young lady I’ve worked with,” he told me. He took my hand and led me to the ladies dressing room to point at a picture of Gwen Stefani. I’ll take it.
He hides his affection for me well- but trust me, we got along splendidly!
Less than an hour, and four free beers later, we swiped a credit card and were given instructions to go explore. We needed to come back at 6:45 for the first fitting. Two days later Dane could come back for his final fitting and pick it up. As we walked out, Dane pulled out his phone and did the math. Hong Kong dollars are confusing. As of writing this post, 1 USD = 7.80 HKD. 100 HKD is roughly 13 USD. So unlike the yen to dollar ratio, when you’re not paying close attention, it’s hard to do the math!
“How much was it?” I asked. For some reason, I was fully thinking in Vietnam tailor terms, expecting him to say $500, maybe $600.
“I think we just dropped a grand on a tux,” he said, recalculating.
I was FLOORED. “Can we go back? Should we cancel? Can we just rent one?”
My ever-reasonable husband explained that for a custom tailored tux we were still getting a good deal. And after 20 minutes of heavy breathing, I decided he was probably right. When I saw him in it two days later, with his orange suspenders and cummerbund, I had to agree- it was a great purchase. Plus now he has 1000 good reasons to never gain another pound!
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.