Simple Solutions for Fashion Emergencies

No need to dial 911—these genius tricks will save the day.

It happens to all of us. You take extra time in the morning to plan the perfect outfit, maybe make a few changes, check it twice in the mirror before heading out the door, and then—far from home and a quick change—it happens. Your zipper breaks. A strap snaps. Someone (ok, maybe you) spills red wine on your white top.

Don't panic! There’s an easy solution to each of these sartorial setbacks, and what’s more—you probably already have everything you need with you.

The Broken Zipper

If it’s stuck…
If you’ve gotten into this literal jam, you know how hard it can be to budge a zipper that’s stiff or stuck. The good news? In most cases, the zipper really only needs a little lubrication to get moving. And not some special solution that requires a trip to the hardware store, either. The lip balm in your pocket should do the trick.

Coat the zipper teeth in front and behind where the pull is stuck, as well as the openings to the pull itself. A firm tug in either direction should get it going again.

If it won’t stay put…
The opposite of a stuck zipper occurs just as often—it won’t stay up. To avoid walking around with your fly down, simply pop the ring off your keys. Thread the hole of the zipper-pull onto the key ring, loop the ring around the button, and button your jeans or pants as usual. Problem solved.

The Snapped Strap

If your bag breaks…
To an observer, it might look like a scene from a slapstick comedy, but when your bag strap suddenly snaps, it’s no laughing matter. The most common culprit of this malfunction is the stitching that secures the end of the strap to the hardware. The good news is that there’s a quick, temporary fix. If the strap is thin enough, you can simply tie it in a simple knot around the hardware.

If your top breaks…
A snapped strap on a dress or blouse can make the item unwearable. Before you rush out to buy an emergency replacement, find a safety pin (check the bottom of your bag, or ask your coworkers—someone is bound to have one). It takes a little dexterity, but even the slimmest of spaghetti straps can be temporarily reattached with a pin.

The Spill

If a stain remover isn’t already in your arsenal (whether that’s your makeup bag, glove compartment, or desk drawer), it should be. These portable, inexpensive products can save a garment from the darkest of blots, red wine included.

Here’s the best practice for putting them to use: First, gently blot up as much of the spilled liquid as possible with a dry towel. Don’t rub, which will only press it deeper into the fibers. Second, use a towel soaked with cold water to remove as much of the stain as possible gently. Then use a stain remover (we like Chateau Spill Red Wain Stain Remover, $8;, following the package directions. The final step is a quick rinse, and your garment should be good as new.

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