Local tailor Peggy Myles began sewing so she could have clothes to wear growing up, but eventually her skills made it on to the big screen.
Nestled right off of North Lamar Boulevard sits a quiet little alterations shop that seems to never slow down. The ladies at Peggy’s Specialty Alterations and Dress Making work hard to perfectly alter dresses and outfits for Oxford residents and even customers across the country. Owner
In the 1990s, Myles had the opportunity to work on movies that featured a number of well known actors and actresses that range from Alec Baldwin, Sandra Bullock and a number of others. Myles said that Matthew McConaughey was one of the most memorable actors she worked with because he would spend a lot of time with them, and he had a very friendly attitude.
“Matthew was one of my favorites because he was really, really a nice young man,” Myles said. “He was kind of the person you could just hangout with and and talk with. I’ll always remember him.”
Some of the movies that Myles had the opportunity to work on included “A Time to Kill,” “The Chamber,” “Ghosts of Mississippi” and “Finding Graceland.” Myles was recommended by a fellow seamstress to work on these movies’ wardrobes. In previous years, photos of celebrities from these movies hung on the walls of her shop, but now photos of local customers and Ole Miss students fill the wall.
She depicted a time when she was working on a dress for Bridget Fonda that was a replica of a Marilyn Monroe dress. With only an hour to spare, Myles had executives from Australia, New York and California on their way to inspect Fonda in the newly altered work.
“When I would put the pin inside the fabric, the fabric would kind of like disintegrate,” Myles said. “The dress did very well, but if I didn’t get it right that one time I was gonna be fired.”
Myles’ start in sewing and alterations was not as glamorous as working on movie sets and hanging out with celebrities. As an Oxford native, her grandmother got her interested in sewing when she was just a little girl. She enjoyed watching her grandmother make little dresses for her with only a needle and thread. Myles had no formal training in sewing; it just came to her naturally.
After not having success at owning her first alterations shop, The Golden Spool, Myles went on to work at Virginia’s Alterations for ten years. In 1998, she decided to quit working at Virginia’s and open Peggy’s Specialty Alterations and Dress Making 19 years ago.
Although Peggy used to design dresses, she has begun to focus more on alterations at her shop. There are a number of alterations shops in Oxford including Square Alterations, but Myles says what makes her store stand out is they try to bring things back to their original state. They want the altered clothes to fit each customer, and also look perfect after the alterations are complete.
The friendly employees and family-friendly atmosphere are also aspects that Myles and her employees take great pride in. Myles says it is important to smile and make customers feel as welcomed as possible when they choose her business.
“It’s more than just being able to alter a dress or a pair of pants,” Myles said. “You have to have something that makes people feel welcomed and puts their minds at ease when they are really worried about something.”
The work dynamic and welcoming attitude are a big part of why customers continue to come back for their services. They work with customers and help them get exactly what they want. According to Ole Miss student Liz Newsom, they helped her get the right alteration on her dress adding a little bit of their professional opinion to make it perfect.
“They’re very community-oriented and nice,” Newsom said. “They take the time out to get to know you or at least make you feel at home.”
Many customers go to Peggy for their alteration needs, and they know that she will take the best possible care of them.
Morgan Pirtle, a frequent customer, brought a skirt to Peggy during football season, and she was able to get it back to her two days later perfectly altered.
“I think what makes Peggy’s Alterations stand out from other alteration shops is that Ms. Peggy is so sweet and really cares about her business,” Pirtle said. “She assures me every single time I walk in there that whatever I need altered will be done to her best ability, and will be done at the time that I need it.”
Peggy loves to meet all of the wonderful people that come through her doors from all over the world. Although at times mistakes can be made, Peggy says 99 percent of the time customers are pleased with the final product. She looks at dresses the way a sculptor looks at a sculpture; pinning and adjusting the dress to fit the person perfectly.
“For customers to be happy with the final product, it makes me happy,” Myles said. “That’s one of the joys of it; you make a living out of it and make someone happy in return.”
The job isn’t always easy though. They are usually busy all year around, but see a large increase in foot traffic during football season, recruitment, winter and spring formals and graduation. The work is mentally stressful and they work long hours to continue to satisfy their many customers. Myles just takes a deep breath and gets back at it again.
Peggy’s usually sees 75 to 100 customers on a busy day and no less than 15 to 25 customers on slower days. With prices that range from just $1 to sew on buttons to $150 and up to work on wedding dresses or evening gowns, customers continue to come back to Peggy’s.
A handful of women work along side Myles. A TV sits on a file cabinet for them to enjoy throughout the day, and they are always willing to lend a helping hand when a fellow employee is in need. The work environment makes it easy for employees to feel at home in their “office.”
Bushba, an employee from Sri Lanka, came to America when she was nine with her family. She was able to learn how to sew through studying it in high school.
“The work dynamic and everyone is very good,” Bushba said. “I enjoy my sewing, and I’m so happy I work here.”
In addition to Bushba, seamstresses Rubby Wilson and Sellie Liggins love having the opportunity to work for Myles and spend time with their co-workers who can turn into family.
With their sewing machines situated right next to each other, they too have been sewing since a young age. According to Wilson, they may just sew all day long, but they always joke around and make sure to have fun.
“The easiest part about working here is we have a great boss,” Wilson said.