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.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Confession: I love shoes and I earn extra mileage from my favorite shoes with a secret weapon: Sharpie markers. Those markers and other permanent felt-tip pens are wonderful tools for making cheap and easy shoe repairs.
For instance, assorted scuff marks recently marred the appearance of my favorite shoes: a pair of black leather, high-heeled BCBG shoes.
The pumps were pummeled, scuffed and nicked on the toe tips, shoe box and tops of the sling-back three-inch heels. But with a few strokes of a black marker, the flaws have now disappeared. (You'd have to be really staring at close range to notice the repairs.) In fact, my shoes seem as good as new. Encouraged, I've been using the black marker on shoes from Tahari and Circa Joan & David. All are excellent labels that I purchased super cheap ($5-$20) at end-of-season clearance sales at Marshalls.
I'm hard on shoes because my daily commute consists of mass transit and a 20-minute walk. Therefore, my shoes take a beating. Markers -- in all colors -- will help me save money and look great.
National Public Radio recently broadcast a fabulous piece about the growing popularity of shoe repairs-- Cobbler's Business Steps Up During Thrifty Times:
As Americans trim their budgets, some businesses are ready for thrifty activity. In St. Louis, a shoe repair shop has seen business skyrocket as the economy prompts more customers to have shoes fixed instead of buying new ones. Jeff Lipson of Cobblestone Shoe Repair is a third-generation cobbler, and he's seeing a new type of customer. --Cobbler's Business Steps Up During Thrifty Times: