A Cinderella story: one that revolves around a fairly unreliable, forgetful, moody fairy godfather and a hopeful Cinderella.

Designer outfits can seriously whip out chunks from your wallet and the cavities take a long time to fill. A cheaper but equally stylish alternative? A visit to the cloth market and another to the darzi with a catalogue in hand.

We have very ancient notions about darzis these days. They’re old, have pan-snacked teeth and only know how to stitch basic kurtas with your standard buttons. The truth? Quite the opposite, actually. Come to think of it, all these designer outfits and branded kurtas have exquisite Pakistani craftsmanship behind them, which in turn makes you want to buy them. Who’s making all the designs come alive from paper onto fabric? Darzis.

How do you get the best from your darzi?

Take visual guides along with you

Remember to always take print-outs of the designs you’re looking to get stitched and ask your tailor to hold onto them for future reference (when they get around to stitching it half a century later). Many a times, they’ll skim through the design, draw a half assed version on their little, white notepads and say, “Baji, apne yehi tou bola tha,” when you attack them for ruining the jora you’d envisioned so perfectly in your head.

WhatsApp them

That’s right, a lot of darzis now rely on handy dandy WhatsApp where their customers send designs their way.

Do your homework

Take a trip around shops and boutiques to see the sort of trimmings and details that are in fashion. Pleats, feathering and pintucks all go in and out of fashion as do laces and trims. Choose detailing that’s on trend to give your outfit that designer feel.

But be prepared for these darzi-dilemmas:

“Baji, ghum gaya”

You don’t actually get the jora back because it’s lost somewhere in the never-ending piles of fabric they have scattered all over the shop.

The neckline isn’t stitched the way you wanted it

Apparently, instead of following instructions, they think they can create designs on the spot, by themselves because your opinion clearly doesn’t matter.

Adding embellishments by themselves wherever they please

If I wanted these cheap buttons on my clothes, I would’ve asked for it. If I wanted the embroidery patch to look like it’s shoved into my neck, I would’ve told you. If I took the time to specifically mention where I wanted everything to go, WHY did you not listen?

The smell

That’s right, your clothes will smell like a mixture of body odour, smoke and a pan-tobacco mixture.

THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM

I can’t stress this enough. Hand over your clothes to be stitched as soon as you can. Don’t wait till the last minute. If you do, you might not have clothes that you wanted to wear, in the first place. It also allows room for your tailor to fix any mistakes he made or change designs subtly, if you’re not happy with the way it initially turned out.

With a lot of Karachi’s hubs being infested by darzi shops, it can be tricky to find someone you like. It’s an experiment with each outfit and that’s a risk you’ve gotta be willing to take. With some outfits, you might be pleasantly surprised with how they turned out. Others, not so much. But the bottom line is that we can’t live without darzis. It’s a love-hate relationship that only grows.

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