Love Is Love When It Alteration Finds

Shakespeare was wrong.

No conversation about renewal and graceful adaptation would be complete without discussing the most important element of any successful wardrobe. Clothes that have been altered to fit your body like a glove. If you don't have a good seamstress you're missing out on the difference between looking good and looking great. For someone like me who is short, round, and physically limited a tailor is indispensable.

Need proof? I often need to have long sleeves shortened on coats and jackets, even if they are Petite. My grey Petite Jessica Simpson coat in Where's That Groundhog? has had the sleeves shortened by a considerable 5". Here it is before the alteration.

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So has the green jacket in Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. I have trouble doing up buttoned cuffs so I had them removed to make it easier for me to wear.

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And this trench coat in Fashion Friday: #23 had to have 8" of sleeve shortened and the cuff reconstructed. I challenge you to see any flaw in the alteration.

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Then there are the pants that need hemming, the button-down and V-necked tops that need sewing up so I don't "burst" out of them. If I posted a picture of every garment my seamstress has made a perfect fit we'd be here all day. Instead, I'll post this one and tell you about this very special lady.

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Meet Ann Rich, proud owner of Rich's Alterations on the outskirts of Ashland City. She's been instrumental in insuring my clothes suit my particularly hard-to-fit shape for a number of years now. She knows exactly what to do to make any garment fit me like a glove.

I have yet to walk into her shop and find her relaxing with nothing to do. Although there are always lots of garments stacked up behind her counter waiting to be altered Ann always makes time to talk to me. This little wisp of a lady is smart, witty, and no-nonsense - just what I like in other people.  Every time I come in she tells me a story from her past or shares some of her views about the world that confirm my assessment.

The 81 year old has seen her share of hardships. She lost her husband years ago to pancreatic cancer and is a cancer survivor herself. But there have been lots of high points in Ann's life as well. Fourteen years ago her grandson helped her secure the space that is her shop. Those are his shirts to my right waiting to be tailored. "John's picky about how he wears his shirts," she confessed. "He brought me one that fits him just right and he wants the rest fixed up just like that one."

Have you figured out who her grandson is yet? That poster over her right shoulder with the gold record is a clue. Ann's grandson is one half of the country music duo Big & Rich. The rest of her shop walls are covered in Big & Rich swag and autographed pictures of other country music stars. What's really endearing is he helped her get into business before he made it big.  That's how much he loves his Grandmother. That's really saying something.

I owe him a debt of gratitude for it. Now I know if I find a piece I really love that doesn't quite fit chances are Ann Rich can make it look like it was made for me. She enjoys her life and her work, and she likes me because I'm "so colorful".

Rich's Design & Alterations is located at 1100 N Main St  in Ashland City, Tn. Her number is 615 792-1234.

Do you have a tailor you go to regularly to have your clothes altered? If not, why not?

Do Your Best - Results May Vary

This is only my sixth post and already I have met some wonderful ladies through their comments on SR. I think that warrants a little more personal information from me. An addendum to The Palsy.

I live in a little house just outside of Nashville, Tn with my husband and my two dogs. I can't drive so I spend the majority of my time at home. I'm not from Tennessee but I've come to appreciate the scenery and the peace and quiet that comes with living in a rural area. I'm not exactly the outdoorsy type. Scratch that, I'm not even close to the outdoorsy type. My idea of camping is only one bathroom and no computer. Two years ago this week our home was nearly destroyed by the 2010 flood aftermath aka the Army Corps of Engineers' genius plan. It has taken us this long to rebuild it with no shortage of amazing people stepping up to help - some of them from as far away as Liverpool, UK. We're not quite done with it but our involuntary remodel has resulted in a better, more accessible house than we started with.

My dogs have a big fenced-in yard to run around in and I walk with them for exercise. As I get older I've come to understand that any mobility I have is a privilege and it's use it or lose it time.  Four years ago I had to have neurosurgery to repair a cervical vertebra that had literally turned onto it's side and  left my right arm completely numb. It was likely the result of my efforts to become the world best Spastic Chef. Whatever; it was surgery or inevitable paralysis. As I've approached and passed the half century mark on this planet I've also had to work through a severely pulled hamstring, sciatica, and carpal tunnel - in my palsy hand of all places!

Poor me. Boo hoo. Nobody cares about any of that when they meet me. It's up to me to do the best I can to look as good as I can muster at any given moment so I can engage the people I'm interacting with. After my neck surgery I wore a scarf around my neck brace. It didn't occlude the brace, it just showed I cared enough to wrap it in something beautiful. Likewise until my neck healed I couldn't wear pants that had buttons or zippers so I found the prettiest skirts or pull-on pants I could and made sure the elastic didn't bunch and was covered up. It was the best I could do.

There are days when I don't feel like wearing much makeup or fussing over my clothes (yes, really) but I've set things up in such a way that even if I'm in a rush I know how to make myself look presentable. I'm sure all of you have seem the fashion makeover shows on TV. Don't you find it odd that they never makeover a Palsy? That's because their rules only take into account bodies that move correctly with clothes that fall over lines that are not twisted by spasticity or caught in the spokes of a wheelchair. Their bags won't sit in the crook of an elbow encased in a crutch, their stilettos are the ideal setup for a Spaz pratfall in 0.02 seconds.

So what are we, chopped liver?

The rules are different for us. I've figured out a few of them and I'll be sharing them here. It is my sincerest wish that all of you reading this won't hesitate to share your particular challenges and any workarounds you may have found.  It's high time we showed the world what we're made of!