Cheap and Easy Repairs for Wardrobe Malfunctions


At work, parties or other formal occasions, wardrobe malfunctions can be expensive. Sudden downpours, popped buttons and scuffed shoes can lead to quick-fix shopping sprees or expensive repair bills.

But the annual ritual of preparing for hurricane season and other household emergencies has taught me to develop a survival kit for fashion emergencies. The following tools can be money-savers.


Carry a folded plastic poncho in your car, briefcase or purse. Portable rain gear can be purchased at drug stores, dollar stores and other outlets for $1 to $5, and easily stored in small spaces. The investment can save a suit from ruin or prevent a costly trip to the dry cleaners.

Instant shoe repair

A black marker can instantly banish scuff marks from black leather shoes. Likewise, I’ve make quick repairs with matching shades of navy and red markers.

Staples and hooks

Before meetings, I have stapled the hem of an unraveling skirt, and I’ve used staples to repair broken hook-and-eyelet fasteners. When a clasp falls apart, I’ve replaced the broken eyelet with a vertical staple in the inner seam of the garment. I then link the hook to the staple. With this repair, a skirt or cardigan closes perfectly.

Quick hem

I’ve repaired falling or missing hems with adhesive strips that are applied with a hot iron. This quick fix — available at drug stores or specialty retailers — has been used for bridesmaid gowns (hours before a wedding), boys’ dress pants, curtains and skirts. Scotch tape also doubles as a great short-term fix for falling hems, but is less reliable.

Spare shoes

Puddles, broken heels and other emergencies have taught me to stash spare sets of shoes in the office, gym locker or family car. An extra set of dress shoes provides a quick transition from business casual to more formal attire.

Accessory collection

For an instant wardrobe upgrade, a friend keeps several ties and a jacket in his office. Those items are helpful when he’s called into sudden executive meetings or other formal gatherings. Likewise, I know women who use shawls and other accessories to deliver quick makeovers without spending a dime.

Editor's note: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (The Frugal Duchess) will be joining Wise Bread as a full time blogger in August. In the mean time, she'll be dropping by with a few guest posts a week.  You can find more great tips from Sharon in her book Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money or in Wise Bread's new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

Can't wait until August? Here are other great posts by Sharon on her blog The Frugal Duchess. Enjoy!

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Guest's picture

Great tips! I like the one about the update with accessories. I carry a pashmina with me, especially this time of year when air conditioning in offices gets cranked up!

One thing I would add is carry a sewing kit! A sewing kit stashed in the desk or car would cover a lot of the contingencies listed above.

I know people are going to say "well what if you don't know how to sew?", to which I respond "why don't you know how to sew?" It's a great skill to have if you're looking to save money.

Guest's picture

You can also get rid of bleach stains on black clothes by filling in with marker.

Guest's picture
Brian G

We had a regular customer stop in and she was shuffling one of her feet. It turns out one of the straps on her sandal broke. We had a giant stapler for ~50 page jobs so I borrowed her shoe and managed to get the staple all the way through it.

She wore those shoes (staple in place) for at least another year. They were probably stronger than when they were new.

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