How to Deal with an Outfit Catastrophe

I’m not one of those women you’d refer to as graceful. You might say goofy or clumsy, or perhaps loud. You wouldn’t be wrong in saying over-caffeinated or jumpy. I’ll happily accept silly any day, but graceful I could not.

So I can assure you that I’m as much an expert as any in the following fields.


Outfit seem familiar? We were shooting a look for the blog when this spectacular disaster was caught on film… and by my neighbors, who were also outside. Ouch. The photo was too funny not to post, and it reminded me it’s high time I share a few of my favorite tricks for surviving the most common outfit issues.

Let me preface by recommending you keep the following items in your purse, desk, or car: a scarf, a piece of jewelry, several safety pins, a hair band, and a bold lipstick. 

Your hem is wrong.

The struggle with height is real. I’m too short for a lot of pants, so I have used everything from staples to paperclips to stud earrings to hold up a pant in an emergency. There’s also tape, safety pins, and, ya know, thread. (But that one is so much more work…) Keep one of those things accessible.

You spy a stain.

Back when I was a staff reporter, I wrote a piece on stain removal. The key points are to dab, absorb, and (when necessary) scrape off the stain. Never wipe or rub. My favorite stain solution is a scarf, mainly because it requires less work, and most of my stains are boob-level and coffee-colored. Even if it can’t hide a stain, layers may distract from the damage.

You’re under-dressed/overdressed.

As a teen I read an article on avoiding this issue at holiday parties, and while I can’t remember which magazine it was in, a few of the tips stayed with me… and years of writing for a very fancy newspaper gave me enough situations to become a master at misunderstanding the dress code. Depending on which situation you’re in, try the following: pull your hair up or let it down, leave on your coat, apply more lipstick, remove your jewelry, tuck in or untuck a garment, cuff your sleeves, tie up your skirt, or add a scarf. Top that off with a killer attitude, as if everyone else looks ridiculous.

You’re wearing the same outfit as someone else.

Remember my cat dress? A coworker at the newspaper had it, too, and sometimes we wore it on the same day. I thought it was hilarious. She did not. The most stylish response to this and all fashion disasters is to laugh. If you make it a big deal then suddenly it’s a big deal. Don’t do that.

You’re covered in wrinkles.

I’m a huge fan of the handheld steam cleaner, but when that’s not an option there’s always heat and/or water. I’ve had luck using a hair dryer (or bathroom hand dryer) to smooth out wrinkles, but it also once melted my skirt while I was wearing it. Be aware of your fabrics. If you want to be safer, try getting your hands a little wet and gently rubbing them on the wrinkled area. Then smooth the piece out with the sides of your hands, even stretching the edges a bit if you’re desperate. If all else fails, take it off, wad it up, and let the whole thing wrinkle for a more intentional grunge look.

Your outfit is boring.

Getting to work and h-a-t-i-n-g your outfit sucks. For pants or skirts, try a new length; cuff the ankles or waistband to see if a shorter, tighter look can help. If there’s a shirt involved, try changing the tuck: untucked, tied, fully tucked, half-tucked in the front, or half-tucked on the side. And never forget the impact of rolling your sleeves — all the way to your pits if you can — and/or lipstick, jewelry, and a change in hair-do. Need more on this? Man Repeller dedicated a whole post to the topic.

Your skirt keeps blowing up.

Ah, my personal favorite. (Kidding. It’s terrible.) You can weight your skirt hem if you want. You can wear a covering slip-short underneath. You can keep one arm free at all times to grab your hem. But alas, if you wear midi circle skirts in the wind, this one is probably bound to happen. My favorite tip? After you get your skirt issue under control, turn to whoever was behind you and say “You’re welcome,” before exiting the area. Walk away and don’t look back.

Good luck out there, fashion-lovers. 

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