At work, parties or other formal occasions, wardrobe malfunctions can be expensive. Sudden downpours, popped buttons and scuffed shoes can lead to quick-fix shopping sprees or expensive repair bills.
But the annual ritual of preparing for hurricane season and other household emergencies has taught me to develop a survival kit for fashion emergencies. The following tools can be money-savers.
Weather-proofing: Carry a folded plastic poncho in your car, briefcase or purse. Portable rain gear can be purchased at drug stores, dollar stores and other outlets for $1 to $5, and easily stored in small spaces. The investment can save a suit from ruin or prevent a costly trip to the dry cleaners.
Instant shoe repair: A black marker can instantly banish scuff marks from black leather shoes. Likewise, I’ve make quick repairs with matching shades of navy and red markers.
Staples and hooks: Before meetings, I have stapled the hem of an unraveling skirt, and I’ve used staples to repair broken hook-and-eyelet fasteners. When a clasp falls apart, I’ve replaced the broken eyelet with a vertical staple in the inner seam of the garment. I then link the hook to the staple. With this repair, a skirt or cardigan closes perfectly.
Quick hem: I’ve repaired falling or missing hems with adhesive strips that are applied with a hot iron. This quick fix — available at drug stores or specialty retailers — has been used for bridesmaid gowns (hours before a wedding), boys’ dress pants, curtains and skirts. Scotch tape also doubles as a great short-term fix for falling hems, but is less reliable.
Spare shoes: Puddles, broken heels and other emergencies have taught me to stash spare sets of shoes in the office, gym locker or family car. An extra set of dress shoes provides a quick transition from business casual to more formal attire.
Accessory collection: For an instant wardrobe upgrade, a friend keeps several ties and a jacket in his office. Those items are helpful when he’s called into sudden executive meetings or other formal gatherings. Likewise, I know women who use shawls and other accessories to deliver quick makeovers without spending a dime.
Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money -- a coming of age memoir about money -- and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.