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?

Get A Handle On It

We all have limitations. It's just a fact of life. Rather than waste time fretting over them use that energy to work around them. I do.

Here's a prime example of a problem I have that's related to my Cerebral Palsy.

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This is one of the newer Samsung Android phones. As cellphones go it's pretty huge, especially in my little hands, and it gets even bigger when you add the Palsy-proof case. In order to use any of the phone's functions I have to be able to hold it in my left hand to leave my dominant hand free to type or scroll. The problem is I have a grasping reflex in my left hand. In other words, I can't delicately handle an item. Instead, I end up squeezing it for dear life. In the case of a cellphone my fingers end up touching the screen and activating all kinds of goodies I don't want opened - not to mention after a minute or two it starts to hurt.

Fortunately, I have a very ingenious husband who set about solving this problem for me - after a quick trip to Michael's for supplies.

Mr Spashionista started by removing the outermost back cover from an Otterbox Commuter case and measured out enough new elastic cords to fit diagonally around the cover. Care was taken so that the camera, flash, and speaker openings at the top were not obstructed.

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He then disassembled a pre-made bracelet and restrung it onto the new lengths of elastic.

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A few secure knots before reassembling the Otterbox case and the Spashionable phone handle is ready for use!

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This works wonderfully! Because my hand slips in so easily I don't have to be petrified I may drop the phone any minute. As an added bonus, because I can keep my palm fairly open there's no dreaded grasping reflex!

After testing the rig for several days some "stability bling" was added to the opposing corners using glass bead adhesive to keep the phone from rocking excessively when it's used on a flat surface.

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Problem solved for about $10! Of course, now I've started a trend and everybody wants one.

Website Wednesday: Like My New Outfit?

When I started Spashionista Report ten months ago I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to say. I had less of a concrete vision of what I wanted the website to look like. So I picked a colorful and whimsical wordpress theme and focused on building the site's content. As time went on it came to my attention that the site design didn't translate well on portable devices like tablet and phones. I also felt it needed to look more sophisticated and more representative of the content I've been conveying.

This morning I bit the bullet and made the change. Spashionista Report is now chicer, sleeker, and mobile and tablet friendly. I hope you, my wonderful readers, approve of the overhaul and I welcome your feedback!

Out With The Old?

As I write this on New Year's Eve 2012 many of you are mulling over your resolutions for 2013.

My friend Laura at As Time Goes Buy pointed out that positive changes can, and should, happen anytime we're ready for them, thus escaping the pressure of the dreaded New Year's resolution. I couldn't agree more. She started her blog in March and I started this one in April. Lasting change only comes with true resolve - but that can come any day of the year.

I've always been more of a doer than a talker. When I started Spashionista Report I wanted to empower women, especially those over 40 and the physically handicapped, to look and feel beautiful and claim their own sense of self-worth. As the blog has progressed I've met many wonderful women of all ages and received far more positive feedback than negative comments. You're reading this so you're one of those women.

I hope that this blog has in some small way lifted your spirits, changed your perceptions, given you useful information or, at the very least, entertained you.  It is my intent in 2013 to try to reach out to as many of you as I can, because we're in this together. Stay with me as I grow this into a bigger and better voice for all of us.

I'll close out 2012 with this wonderful post filled with points for you to ponder when you're ready for those positive changes.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer Newspaper, Cleveland, Ohio.

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

  1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

  3. Life is too short - enjoy it.

  4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

  6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

  7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

  8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

  9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to be happy. But it's all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive but don't forget.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

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You're Amazing. Show It!

I see you, my peers. I read your blogs, your comments, your emails. I know from my own experience how you suffer at the nervous stares and cruel words uttered by others. Worse yet, I know how you agonize over not being "normal", over being labeled and judged and dismissed by the masses.

You're worried about the same thing everybody else is worried about. Everybody get labeled and judged; everybody. Everybody wants to be better, prettier, smarter, thinner, fill-in-the-blank.

I wish that I could make people instantly look past your handicap and see who you are inside. But, since that isn't ever going to happen, I want to wave my magic wand and help you look past your own handicap long enough to realize what an amazing person you are. If you have CP you are coping with challenging circumstances on a daily basis that no one but your peers can appreciate. And that's really the point. Nobody can tell anything about who you are by just looking at you. They can't know what your favorite food is, or how much you love your dog, or how scared you are during thunderstorms. They have no idea how hard it is for you to stop moving, or unclench your hand, or get your facial tics under control.

You live with the constant reminder of your limitations everyday yet you expect others to ignore them the instant they lay eyes on you. It's just not fair to expect that much from others. You will  encounter countless disappointment if you do.

Instead, think of yourself in these terms.  "Although we all know not to judge a book by it’s cover, most will have a quick glance at the cover to see if it’s a book they may be interested in reading." I'd love to take credit for this sage phrase but it is, in fact, a comment left on my About page by astimegoesbuy (you really should check out her blog. She has impeccable taste).  More importantly, she's absolutely right. You are an amazing book, a page-turner, a best-seller. Why not work on your cover and see how many people want to have a read?

We'll Take What We Can Get

As far as I know, there are no fashion-oriented TV shows featuring Cerebral Palsied models.

However, the disabled are starting to be seen as more than just victims of everything, including fashion. There are currently two shows that have, or will have, wheelchair-bound participants.

Sundance Channel has Push Girls, a "reality show" about four paralyzed hotties living in Los Angeles. Although the reality show concept in general is anything but real there's still enough emphasis on the realities of living in a wheelchair to make the show worth watching. Because the overall tone of the show is very positive it's worth forgiving the obvious soap-storyline or super-cripple moments. Push Girls airs Monday nights at 9pm ET. Check out tonight's promo below.

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More exciting for me will be tomorrow's episode of TLC's What Not To Wear in which they will be making over their first disabled young woman. The synopsis from TV Guide reads, "A wheelchair athlete with a cheerful outlook on life wants to apply the same positive energy to a dull wardrobe of sports attire and work clothes." WNTW airs Tuesday nights at 9pm ET.

No, they're not Spazzes, but we'll get there someday! Until then we'll take what we can get.