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They happen to all of us — frequently: Whether it’s spilling your coffee or ripping your pants, mini-fashion emergencies can put a damper on your work day. "Men’s Health" Fashion Director Brian Boyé shares smart tips on how to avoid those Monday morning fashion disasters:
Keep an emergency fashion kit in your desk drawerFor starters, a smart bet is to be prepared with a fashion emergency kit that you store at your office. It will save you in a pinch or allow you to be a hero to a colleague. It should contain:
- A solid dress shirt, preferably white, so it will go with anything
- A stain removal stick — for pen marks and coffee spills
- A extra pair of pants — black trousers and a pair of jeans will give you maximum options
- A spare umbrella for sudden showers
Problem: The seat of your pants or your hem has rippedSolution: Look to a few common office supplies to help you recover.
It’s not the classiest move, but if you rip the seat of your pants along the seam – you can use a few strategically placed staples along the inside of the seam to close the gap for a few hours. This is clearly just a temporary fix and you should move with caution until your pants are correctly mended.
TapeTape works well for hems and small rips. Opt for packing or masking tape, which has a stronger hold rather than invisible desk tape. For small rips: Take off the trousers and tape it from the inside, which will hold the fabric together for the short term. To shore up a loose hem, turn your trousers inside out and place a piece of tape on either side of the crease.
Problem: You’ve forgotten small but essential components to your dress shirtSolution: If you have distracting fly-away collars because you forgot your collar stays — reach into your desk drawer and grab two paper clips. They will substitute perfectly for your missing collar stays. This is also a great trick for travelers who arrive at their destination and realize they have forgotten this dress shirt essential.
Problem: You forgot the cuff links for your shirt with French cuffsSolution: Again, the solution is right on your desk. Grab a stapler and staple your cuffs together. It won’t hold up well under close scrutiny, but it will at least keep your shirt cuffs together for the day. It’s probably a good idea to leave your suit coat on to cover up your temporary fix.
Problem: You overindulged at breakfast or lunch and your trousers are too tightSolution: Use a rubber band looped over the button, through the buttonhole and back over the button to give a little extra stretch. It’s a trick pregnant women have used for years, but will also work for the overindulged businessman too. Make sure you wear a belt to cover up your indiscretion. This is also a good trick for business travelers who find themselves on long flights in too-tight pants.
Problem: Your shoes are scuffed
Solution: If your office has a kitchen and you have access to vegetable or olive oil left over from salad dressing — the best bet is to take a damp paper towel, wipe the dirt from your shoes, then dry. Next, apply a drop of vegetable oil to another paper towel and give your shoes a quick shine. Barring that, the inside of a banana peel will also do the trick. Simply rub the peel on the leather shoe lightly, then wipe off any tell-tale signs with a paper towel.
Problem: You're wearing your $5 coffee on your shirt or tieSolution: Most dry cleaners will say “don’t do a thing,” but the reality is that you probably don’t want to go through to day with a big coffee stain on your shirt. Get to a sink, fast. Use water and soap to blot out the stain.
If you spill coffee on something that’s washable — and have a place where you can work on it in private — use hot water and a small amount of soap. Pour the water through the fabric over a bowl or cup and then blot — don’t rub — with a damp cloth and soap.
If you spill on a tie or an article of clothing that’s not washable – use soap and a small amount of warm water, blot to create suds, then rinse with cool water.
And if you’re prepared with a fashion emergency kit at the office, there are a few options for quick, portable stain removers. "Men’s Health"recently tested a few popular stain removal products. Shout Wipes and Oxi Clean Spray Away got highest marks, with Tide to Go – in an easy-to-store or carry pen format — a very close second.