Read an Excerpt
JUST TRY IT ON!A Month by Month Guide to Shopping and Style
By SUSAN REDSTONE
CITADEL PRESSCopyright © 2008 Susan Redstone
All right reserved.
Your Fashion Emergency Kit (F.E.K.)
It's a New Year, a new you, and this year you're going to be your best fashion incarnation ever. You probably already know what's in, what's out, and what's heinous on you. So why not start the year with a little preparation that is as much a personal positive-reinforcing ritual as a style lifesaver? That's where your Fashion Emergency Kit (F.E.K.) comes in. Getting ready for a new year equipped with such a kit should ward off fashion disasters from the very start. It's also fun to have a project at the beginning of the New Year to keep you motivated. And motivation is exactly what you'll be getting if you start right now by putting together your F.E.K.
Why Have a Kit?
It all starts with a bag of stuff. But not just any kind of stuff. The F.E.K. should be a staple of your life. It is your security blanket during a work wardrobe malfunction and a friend in need at your best friend's wedding. It helps you attain a level of confidence and preparedness that makes you feel protected. It is like fashion insurance! No matter whether you spend all your time in the office or in the car or on the freeway or on the plane or at your boyfriend's house, your kit will be for those foul fashion moments and save the day.
The greatest thing about the F.E.K. is that you prepare it while you're at the top of your game and feeling your best-and it comes to your rescue when you're feeling your very worst. Of course, life's little fashion mishaps don't just happen in one given environment (although for some reason the office is a notorious offender in the fashion disaster department), and so in achieving your Zen-like state of perpetual preparedness and fashion perfection, you should have multiple kits. Because with your F.E.K. stashed away in a bottom desk drawer at work or in the trunk of the car or under your boyfriend's bed, you have the wherewithal to make a fashion fix. Whether or not it's a ripped sleeve, unexpected doggie hair on black pants, or a garden variety mishap like snagged hosiery, don't underestimate the power of fashion preparedness. It only takes a few minutes and a few cents to make up your kit, and you may already have the key items in your home.
Only you know what personal items you may want to add. No two F.E.K.s are alike as they're created specifically for your individual needs. My personal F.E.K travels with me between cities when I'm working on the road, and it's always personalized with a spare mascara-a key beauty item for me-as well as a $20 bill, because I always need cash. It always contains my most trusted medicines too. I can't tell you how many times other people that I'm working with have been grateful for the Advil that's lurking in my kit! Having a higher level of preparedness doesn't just benefit you; it can help your friends or family too. Think of it as your private secret weapon that'll bail you out when fashion, beauty, or other emergencies strike!
One of the greatest things about the F.E.K. is that it's a great place to offload some of those items that you don't use all the time but can't quite toss out when you have a wardrobe purge.
How to Prep the Kit
The key to having a great F.E.K. is thoughtful preparation. So kit prepping is simply figuring out your exact personal requirements. Try to set aside an hour one evening and get prepping!
1. Get an old tote, a large makeup case, or any bag that you don't use much anymore. In a pinch, use a large transparent ziplock baggie. It's not glamorous, but it's oh-so-useful as you can easily see everything inside at a glance. There is one veteran New York stylist who wouldn't think to use anything but an extra large ziplock plastic baggie, because of the ease of visibility and access.
2. Make a list of the items you think you'll need most in your bag. If you're feeling stuck for ideas, check your list against the lists that follow, which is a rough guide to the sorts of things professional stylists swear by in their kits.
3. Fill the bag, following your list, with a selection of basics that fits your fashion life. This little exercise will force you to think about what you need, what you don't need, and what you might have never thought you needed but could really use.
F.E.K. essentials should each carry its own weight because they all comprise the backbone of your kit. Some things listed will be more naturally useful to some than others. For example, if you have a dog, perhaps your double-sided tape for pet hair pick-up should be super-sized!
* Double-sided tape: Great for taping up hems on pants and skirts-that is until you get them to the tailor or get them home to repair yourself. It is pretty cool to be instantly able to tape up your dropped hem. Double-sided tape is also great for picking up unintended doggie or kitty hair from pants, sweaters, or other apparel, so you can skip the lint remover roller and save room in your F.E.K. Say no more: just say yes to double-sided tape.
* Needle and thread: This may seem obvious to some but not to all, so put them in. It's also smart to add spare buttons-one white and one black. Small is best. If you've been lucky enough to stay in a hotel where the sewing kit was complimentary, then toss it into your kit-now that's a fine, fine shortcut. (Note to self: take the sewing kit next time you're away in a hotel.) If you don't have a sewing kit, you can make one in a flash. Next time you sit down with a soda in front of your favorite sitcom, prepare some sewing needles. Thread a few needles with white, taupe, and black thread. Next, find a matchbook and remove the actual matches. Then, sew each needle halfway through the cardboard from the inside to the outside and back down to the inside. This will ensure that the sharp ends are away from fingers, and you can close the cover for safe storage.
* Nonaerosol travel-size vial of hairspray: Here's another double-duty item. Hairspray isn't just for flyaway hair actually, but for the static cling on your skirt. Spray your knees and your skirt will leave them alone. Pretty genius!
* Spare hose: Okay. So perhaps you're not a big hose fan or even a wearer. You may think, no hose needed here. But consider this: maybe one day, some dark, opaque hose will keep you warm if worn under your pants on a snowy, rainy, or cold day. I'll bet you have an old pair of warm hose you never use that are clogging up your sock drawer and that could be just as happily housed in your F.E.K.
* Clear nail polish: It's not just for nails! Keep this item in your F.E.K. for sticking down and patching ripped hose. At the first sign of a rip or tear in your hose, don't remove them! While still wearing them, apply clear polish to each end of the tear and sit still while it dries. When the polish dries, it creates a hard seal at the edges of the tear preventing it from spreading further. Clear polish is the most invisible and the best to use, but if the tear is in a hidden place, colored polish will do. Don't worry if the polish seeps through and sticks to the skin on your leg, it will peel off later!
* Umbrella: A portable, collapsible umbrella, for those days when you look fine, and so does your hair, and the weather does its best to change all that.
* A white shirt: Wrinkle free, if possible, since it may be stashed in your F.E.K. for months before you use it. It doesn't need to be fancy or from the fabulous Thomas Pink. If you've had a clumsy day and your lunch has ended up down your front, a fresh shirt that will go with everything will serve you well. If you're not a fan of white shirts, black will also work just as well.
* Hair accessories: Stash items that you normally wear. Please, not the floral leftovers from that wedding party or hair bands in bright velvet that are not a normal part of your fashion repertoire. Keeping sparkly barrettes, pretty jewel-encrusted bobby pins, elastic hair bands, and other decorative hardware and soft elastics for dressing up, pinning up, tying up, or restraining hair up or into a tight pony tail will help you ward off bad hair days.
* Baby wipes: A portable, resealable pack, please. Sounds a bit naughty, but in a pinch, these are the magic towels that remove makeup stains from sweaters, smeared eye makeup, grime from hands, dirt from under nails, and mayo from lunch that landed on your pants. They're not as good as the dry cleaners, but they come pretty close and are a great way to do a triage on your clothes! Shout stain removal wipes are very cool too, though of course these only do the job on clothing but can't be used on your hands or face too.
* An extra sweater, jacket, sweatshirt, or shawl: Sweatshirts are for the boyfriend's house kit or gym bag kit. Shawls are feminine and flexible and fold small so they're perfect for an airplane kit, office kit, or boyfriend's house kit. Knit sweaters are for the car kit or office kit, and so are jackets.
* A comfortable pair of flats: Not your fanciest pair, just a pair that you can walk in, and fast. A dark or neutral color is best. They'll cover for a necessary and überquick errand dash or save your suede Jimmy Choos from the rain at lunchtime. And that pair of worn-out sneakers that have no life left in from the gym? Don't toss them-they'll do for your office kit too, especially if you live in a walk-up or work in a high-rise. Fire escapes and stairwells don't mix with Manolos. Keep those smelly old sneakers in the kit, 'cause ya just never know.
On-location kits are the perfect answer to any multitasking alpha female's life. The idea is to keep and tailor kits specifically for where you will be. So whether your jam-packed life is full of spontaneous moments or revolves around a predictable but crazy routine, creating especially customized multiple kits and storing them in different locations is great fashion insurance.
Car kit. If you're planning a kit for the car, think smart. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, perhaps a spare baseball cap is the big kit-specific hit here. Or maybe it's sunscreen or bug spray. A tightly rolled towel, windbreaker, or travel umbrella may also come in handy. You won't know how grateful you are for a spare pair of sunglasses until you misplace yours en route somewhere (gasp!) and face the prospect of driving without them. You'll be thanking me from the bottom of your kit if you pull out a spare to get you on your way.
Boyfriend kit. A kit for your boyfriend's house might include extra lingerie, perfume, a great book, or a do-it-yourself manicure set (if he's intent on watching the tube all weekend!). And don't forget all those girl-friendly bits that he's not likely to have lying around his home: tampons, panty liners, hairspray, lip balm, and slouchy socks for vegging out. Also, if your man is the spontaneous type who plans overnight trips at the last minute, perhaps consider stashing some fresh underwear, a bathing suit, a warm sweater, and a medium-weight all-season jacket too.
Gym kit. A kit for the bottom of your gym bag may contain extra makeup or hair products for when the change of plans calls for heading out on the town post-workout. Some deodorant, spare socks, spare shoe laces, an extra sports bra, or an old swimsuit, one you don't care about getting saturated with chlorine (for a change of workout- in the pool maybe?) can all make a visit to the gym run more smoothly.
These little "extras" may be unglamorous, but be assured, they're worth taking note of. Luckily, they're all small in size and don't take up much room. Often, they're the most lifesaving items you'll have. Once your friends know you have a kit they'll ask for these, too, so it's best to stash them in multiples.
* Tampons: Yup, not glamorous, but without these, your fashion emergency in white jeans or pants will be a whole lot worse.
* Underwear: Panties, smalls, whatever you wish to call them-keep them in your kit. Any pair will do, but a nude thong would be the best underpinning for most outfits in a pinch.
* Money: Money talks, let's face it. But we're not talking about keeping a mutual fund in your kit, just a $20 bill to save you from another trip to the ATM. A spare $20 bill has never come to any harm hidden away for an emergency. Possible uses include buying breath mints; paying taxi fare home when you've worn white or cream and the weather is inclement; taking a taxi home for a real emergency, not just a fashion one; buying a cheap new pair of gloves from a street vendor for when you lose half your pair in the cold; or purchasing a scarf when you miscalculated the weather and find yourself underdressed. You can even use it for a replacement umbrella when your F.E.K. umbrella breaks at lunchtime.
* Stick moisturizer: This looks like a glue stick, and it's great for hair flyaways. Just rub some on your palms and smooth down on your part. It also doubles up as a spot-target moisturizer for lips, elbows, or hands.
* Your meds: Pills, medicines, or tonics for whatever ails you, whether it's for a migraine moment or a really bad PMS day. Keep a pouch with your preferred headache, cramp, or indigestion meds on hand.
So there you go. You're officially equipped. It's up to you how small or large you make your kits, but the essentials for fashion-failure prevention are at your fingertips. Hopefully, you won't need one piece from it, but you've got it if you need it.
What to Shop Now!
So here comes the exciting part: The annual merchandising calendar is possibly one of the most overlooked aspects of shopping that, as a consumer, you can use to your advantage. Getting the insider scoop on buying, shipping dates, and merchandising habits of retail stores helps alleviate so much fashion stress! Armed with this information month by month, you will know when and what to look for and make smart decisions on whether it is a good idea to buy. After a while, shopping with an eye on the next season to come will become second nature, and you will automatically gravitate toward honing your style for the months ahead, picking out the best on the racks.
What hits the racks and when?
As a savvy shopper, you should know that retailers and suppliers have an actual calendar that they live by in the world of fashion. Manufacturers' shipments are not haphazard. There are actual delivery dates for when specific categories of clothing such as jeans, swimwear, and sweaters arrive in the stores each season. The following information isn't supposed to read like some "annual report" from some boring company, but if you scan on, you'll see that everything we look forward to buying is all planned out to arrive ready to hit the racks at particular times of the year.
It's genius really that stores receive the new stock for the season way before it's time to wear it. This gives savvy shoppers like you plenty of time to browse, buy, and store away cool finds to be worn later in the year. The idea is to keep an eye on the upcoming season on the calendar, as the fashion cycle is constantly moving forward. Seeing new clothes in the stores that can be worn immediately (and buying them) is very gratifying, but seeing items for seasons that seem a long way off is an early warning signal that the new season is a lot closer than you may think! These new wares must be shopped before the best picks are gone! The pattern that manufacturers use remains practically the same year in, year out, so if we learn from it, it'll always be helpful. For example, if you're searching for denim, the best picks hit stores in August and September. But what if you miss the window or can't find anything that you really love? No worries! Another shipment of new denim hits in February and March, too, so that you have two great opportunities to go look. With this knowledge in mind, you can get what you want the moment it hits the racks.
Excerpted from JUST TRY IT ON! by SUSAN REDSTONE Copyright © 2008 by Susan Redstone. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.