Q & A with Peggy Myles
Y’all just ain’t living right if you haven’t had to let those favorite pants out a size or two after the holidays. And a favorite place for Oxford residents go for the waistband blues is Peggy’s Specialty Alterations, in business for 16 years. Owner Peggy Myles greets her customers with a smile Hollywood would be proud of. In fact, Myles has even dabbled in the movies a bit during her career. Peggy’s and its army of seamstresses provide the community with a variety of special skills when those sewing machines get to stichin’. Oxford Citizen publisher Jon Rawl, a longtime customer, sat down this week with the Oxford businesswoman for a one-on-one conversation.
JON RAWL: What got you interested in alteration work as a career?
PEGGY MYLES: It’s something I always loved to do. Sewing was what my grandmother did, and it was out of necessity. She made all of our clothes when we were growing up. And she never had a sewing machine — she always made everything by hand with needle and thread. And that’s how I started sewing, until I got my first sewing machine as a 16th birthday present.
RAWL: What made you decide to open your own shop?
MYLES: I started doing alterations at Rainbow Cleaners. One of the ladies there said, ‘You should open your own business.’ And I did, it was called Golden Spool Alterations. It fizzled out after a year because I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge to do things. I then worked at Virginia Blackwell’s alterations shop for 10 years, and ultimately decided to jump back into my own business again.
RAWL: We don’t have a lot of filmmaking veterans in Oxford, but you’re one of them. You worked as a seamstress and production assistant on such movies as A Time To Kill and The Chamber. What was that like?
MYLES: I met a lot of wonderful actors, actresses and designers. When I got married a second time, I quit the movies. But we’ve created a lot of outfits here through the years, including stage clothing for university plays and dresses for Miss Mississippi and Miss Mississippi USA pageants.
RAWL: What is the busiest time of year for business?
MYLES: There’s so much going on in the fall: ballgames, rush at the university, winter parties and also winter formals. And we also have wedding dresses to work on, because weddings happen year-round.
RAWL: Keeping up with the demand must be difficult, but you have an impressive cast backing you.
MYLES: Yes, I have seven ladies that work together. Most all of them have been with me at least five years. I’m very blessed to be able to have them, and we learn how to do things. We all come up with a way to help the customer. We do the roundtable thing when we have something we don’t know how to come up with. They enjoy and love what they do.
RAWL: What’s it like living and working in the same county you grew up in?
MYLES: I took home ec in high school, and out of all the dresses we did I never made an ‘A’ on any of my dresses. But everybody who made the ‘As’, they now bring their clothes to me.
RAWL: Since you’re Oxford’s version of Mr. Blackwell, what’s hot in fashion right now?
MYLES: Leather is in: leather shorts, leather shirts. The chevron patterns are really popular. And the maxi dresses are very popular, and will be this fall, too.
RAWL: And how do you handle Ole Miss coeds that come in and want their skirt altered in a, let’s say, “non-traditional” way?
MYLES: Not too short. You want to be tasteful. Sometimes I have to beg the customer, ‘Please don’t make it that short.’ You want to be able to sit down!