This is an exclusive extract from Rescu Me: The makeover guide for a life more fabulous by Bahar Etminan.
For most stylists their toolkit operates as their right arm and for Emma Read it’s her eternal problem solver, fixing any potential on-set crisis. Here she shares her list of non-negotiables included in her wardrobe First-Aid kit to ensure you can be prepared for any occasion.
From fixing a dropped hem on the run to keeping a neckline in place, double-sided tape is an all-round wardrobe hero. Hollywood Fashion Tape is the original and the best. I always throw extras into my handbag (they can need a refresh after a while on your skin).
Chicken fillets/ silicone adhesive cups
For padding out your bust, obviously — but also a wonder-worker for smoothing out a gaping or puckering neckline on anything low-cut. These work best with a little test run if you have time — it will help them mould imperceptibly into your body shape.
If it has options for strapless, racer-back, halter and one-shouldered, you need it in nude and black — seamless, preferably. It’s a bonus if yours comes complete with set of clear straps (perfect for tanks or racer-backs when you need support but don’t want a bra strap on show to the world). This will save a lot of angst when working with tricky necklines or silhouettes as you essentially have an artillery of bras in one.
To eliminate visible panty lines and smooth your body-line in a clingy fabric like silk – stock up in multiple cuts if possible, as it’s Murphy’s Law that the one you don’t own will be the one you need in a pinch. A slip, a bodysuit (one with convertible straps is extra handy), a short option, camisoles and high-waisted panties in nude and black are all silhouette essentials. If you’re buying shape-wear for specific outfits, it’s always smart to take both into the change room with you to check the fit and visibility of shape-wear through your garment’s fabric — trust me, there’s nothing worse than finding your tummy-sucking shorts are peeking through a leg split. Most stylists, including me, swear by the Spanx brand.
Black and Nude Stockings
Snap them up in bulk to avoid any last minute hole dramas. Have a range of deniers (sheer, opaque and thick) on hand to work back with different fabrics — as a general rule, the lighter the fabric of your outfit the lighter the denier that goes with it.
Mini Sewing Kit
Needle and thread in white and black, mini sewing scissors, sewing pins and buttons are a must for any on-the-run mending — say, a dropped hem (a quick iron combined with an ‘x’ or run stitch on either side seam will see you through).
Mini Safety Pins
From small tears or holes to nipping in a waistline, a hidden pin will solve any SOS drama – your alterations place can attend to it permanently down the track. I find gold, silver, black and white handy. Always pin from the inside and at a seam if possible, to really tuck it away from prying eyes.
Use the adhesive versions for your everyday fabrics or for anything quite heavily lint-laden (I purchase mine from IKEA — the cheapest by far), and a felt roller on anything delicate, like silks or anything beaded.
Shoe polish and shiners
For quick accessory touch-ups between visits to the cobbler. I have found Waproo’s Quick Shine Polishing Pad is a godsend for shining shoes in two seconds flat. In terms of brands and finishes, go to the expert — the best products are always at cobbler’s workshops.
You never know when these will come in handy, but employing these instead of Band-Aids is wise (it’s all down to the glue — specialist covers are much more skin friendly). Great for those of you who can go bra-less.
Padded Inner Soles
I pop these pre-emptively into all heels to curb any potential aches from long-term wear. Double them up for any sky-high shoes (if they still hurt after that, it’s time for a visit to the podiatrist).
Stain remover pen
For on-the-go spot removals when an outfit change is not an option and you have precisely 2.5 seconds to run out the door. I find the pen applications simpler and faster-drying than any sprays. Be sure to remove any excess residue from the stain first before applying, then press the pen directly onto the stain several times to allow the solution to do its magic. (Don’t go crazy on the application — if you go too far with the liquid you’ll end up replacing the stain with a wet ring of remover). Gently rub the pen across the stain to lift it, blot it and allow it to dry. As with any cleaning product, best to test it on delicate fabrics first prior to using it.
From your winter boots to an evening clutch — a quick spray and brush will not only keep your accessories looking fresh but protect them as well, which means a longer wardrobe life span. Again, go to your cobbler who’ll recommend the best product to use on anything precious.
Silky feet foot spray
The perfect antidote for a barely-there strappy sandal that you slip and slide in – a spritz of this covers your feet in a silky layer that reduces friction with your shoe and bulks up the grip.
Keep your accessories buttery-soft and clean by giving them a polish every couple of months with a soft cloth — they’ll thank you for it, plus they’ll live a lot longer.
For more practical insights and advice from the leading experts in health, relationships and wellbeing, finances and career, fashion and beauty, pick up a copy of Rescu Me: The makeover guide for a life more fabulous by Bahar Etminan.