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Fashion & Finance: What’s in your emergency kit? Are you equipped to fix your fashion disaster?

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May 18, 2012

While “fashion emergencies” on the red carpet may be tabloid fodder for readers of gossip rags and top prize for the paparazzi, it’s never fun when you experience one of your own while at work.

From horror stories of stained or ripped clothing, to broken heels or even hat head, common clothing or beauty disasters are embarrassing and can cause a lot of stress. If you are on your way to an important client meeting, interviewing for a job, or even overseeing an appointment with a prospective candidate for your firm, a fashion emergency can really throw your professional image and air of confidence out the door.

My suggestion for dealing with these little annoyances is to know a few tips and tricks to deal with the unexpected—and to have an emergency kit handy to deal with fashion faux pas and other small problems. Whether it’s in your desk drawer at the office; rides along with you in your car; or is tucked inside your briefcase, laptop bag or purse, an emergency kit can really save the day.

Here are a few items and strategies to deal with some common fashion crises:

Ouch, your shoes really hurt! Wouldn’t you know it? You tried on this amazing pair of heels at the store and they looked and felt great. Now, you have been wearing them for a few hours at the office and your feet are killing you. Is that a blister you feel coming on? Darn it, should have worn flats! Always seems the most beautiful shoes can be the most uncomfortable, and sneakers or slippers are oh-so-comfy—but not the right fit for the office.

Try smoothing clear deodorant over the affected area to cut down on painful friction. If your blister has already formed and is red and angry, make sure to have bandages or liquid bandage options on hand in your emergency kit to get through the rest of the day. You can also buy lots of different types of inserts for pumps and heels, that may help create a better, cushier fit. If you can, purchase an inexpensive pair of comfortable low, black heels or flats to keep under your desk in case of a real foot emergency that requires a full-out switch!

Broken heel. In New York City, there is a shoe repair place on every block, but not everyone is so lucky! If you cannot make it to a local cobbler quickly to repair your broken heel, make sure to have a vial of superglue on hand to temporarily secure it back to the bottom of the shoe. Superglue is also great for quick costume jewelry fixes, but don’t use it on your fine jewelry! Package it up and take it to a professional for proper cleaning, resetting and repair!

Run in your pantyhose or tights. Stop the run dead in its tracks with a drop of clear nail polish at each of the ends. Another quick fix is said to be hairspray, to keep the run tight and from spreading up and down your leg. Consider having a back up pair or two of black opaque tights and sheer nude stockings in your desk drawer if the run gets really out of hand.

Spills and stains. While you of course should not be drinking while at work, you may be at a lunch or after-work function where wine is served. As Murphy’s law would dictate, when you wear white or light colored clothing and drink red wine, you will somehow or another manage to get a huge red wine stain on your clothing. Let alcohol get you out of this embarrassing mess and neutralize the offending stain with white wine, blotting (not rubbing) until it disappears. Vinegar or seltzer may also do the trick. For other stains you can also try my tried-and-true Tide to Go instant stain remover pen, and other stain removing cloths for your emergency kit!

Fallen hem. It worked for Jennifer Lopez’s famous gravity defying Versace Grammy dress, so it can certainly work for your hem! Grab double-stick tape to keep in your kit for this emergency. It also works for many other apparel emergencies and even a blouse or shell that is too low-cut and needs to stay put.

Deodorant streaks. A necessary evil in some cases, deodorant can keep you fresh and feeling clean, but can also cause a big disaster by marking up your clothes with white streaks. Say “presto change-o” and make them disappear by rubbing the fabric forcefully against itself. Don’t take a paper towel, tissue or any other paper product to the spot, the paper may flake off on the material and will not remove the streaks. You can also try using a deodorant-removing sponge, which can be found online.

Hat head or hair. I recommend bringing back hats for the cold fall and winter months to add some style to your wardrobe, but they can leave you looking flat. Throw in small sample size gel or styling foam products into your emergency kit, or try smoothing your locks with a dryer sheet to remove static. Also, keep a hairbrush or comb on hand in your kit to straighten and fix your hair throughout the day.

Some additional items you may want to consider for your kit include:

•    Shoe polish
•    Safety pins
•    Tampons/sanitary pads
•    Moisturizer
•    Lip balm
•    Hair bands, bobby pins or clips
•    Toothpicks
•    Mints or gum
•    Toothbrush and toothpaste
•    Extra white dress shirt
•    Black cardigan sweater (if you get cold)
•    Visine
•    Aspirin or Tylenol
•    Lint remover
•    Sewing kit
•    Earring backs
•    Instant button
•    Nail file

Check out your local dollar store for many of these items all in one place. You can grab a cute makeup bag or pouch to house them all together, to be stashed in your desk or kept on-hand by your HR person. You can also buy pre-made fashion emergency kits like this one online. I received one from a good friend of mine, specifically created for brides, when I got married back in September and have since held on to it for travel and work purposes. It has worked out great and fixed a few fashion emergencies of my own (love it, thanks Magda!).

For more information and ideas, make sure to check out this awesome blog tutorial slideshow on fashion emergencies on a favorite fashion site of mine Refinery29. They provide some great tips and tricks to deal with life’s little dilemmas! Feel free to email me or post on the Accounting Today Facebook wall if you have any other great ideas to share to help fix a fashion emergency! Isn’t that a part of accounting anyway? Minimize risk!

Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.

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