7 MacGyver-like fixes I’ve been a costume designer and celebrity stylist for more than 20 years, and yet I continue to learn something new on every job. And I remember all the times that have gone horribly wrong especially vividly because I tend to develop my best fashion hacks as a result. They’ve ranged from the bizarre (cutting Rose Byrne out of a dress on Get Him to the Greek) to the everyday useful (Amy Schumer cut her finger and got blood on a precious item of clothing at a magazine shoot; apparently a little saliva is the best solution). This is a collection of stories about some of those mishaps and insane wardrobe malfunctions—and, moreover, the MacGyver-like fixes that helped save the day and may just save you from your own fashion disaster.
Windy Skirt Syndrome? Use Coins and Tape On one of my first jobs, we were shooting a film in Arizona, and as per usual the set was a 20-minute drive from our base camp and wardrobe trailer. The actress working in that particular scene happened to have on a very light, short, flirty circle skirt. Just as we’re ready to shoot, the wind picked up the skirt was flying well above waist level, Marilyn Monroe style. Yikes! I knew I needed dress weights in the hem but I didn’t have any in my back pocket, so I went around asking the crew for dimes and pennies. I then used small squares of double stick tape to stick the coins all along the inside of the hem, and within three minutes we were back on schedule and ready to shoot.
A High Slit Secret To be safe, when wearing a dress with a high slit or short length, wear the same color undergarments in case of unwanted exposure. So when Amy Schumer walked the Snatched premiere red carpet in that gorgeous custom Antonio Berardi dress with a thigh-high slit, you bet she was wearing cobalt blue undies underneath.
The Halter Solution If you’re wearing a spaghetti strap top or dress and the strap breaks, just cut the other strap and tie them into a halter. This happened to Rashida Jones on the set of I Love You Man.
In an Oil or Liquid Crisis, Reach for the Baby Powder. It’s Oscar day, and we’re sewing some last-minute gel bust pads into a strapless gown that a nominated producer from Manchester by the Sea was wearing. The seamstress accidentally punctured the gel pocket in the pad and all the fluid poured out and stained the front of the dress. Not one of my favorite moments. Luckily, we doused the liquid stain with baby powder, and after a few tries it was all soaked up and the gown was back to looking red-carpet ready. I watched some of her on-camera interviews, and it was truly amazing—you would never know anything had ever happened.
Use a Sharpie to add color My client – a shark from Shark Tank was making a TV appearance, and we were asked to bring two of the same shirts. We made two custom black Western shirts with white embroidery, and he absolutely loved them. In the middle of the shooting day, the director asked for everyone to go change into their second outfit. What?! I had no idea about the need for a second look. They’d told us to bring two of the same.I had an idea: I remembered, from the year before, how I’d used a Sharpie to color in a pair of red studded boots for an actress in a film, which worked like a charm. My assistant and I grabbed black Sharpies and went to work on the white embroidery. The second shirt ended up looking even better than the first, with colored-in dark charcoal embroidery. I love a happy accident.
A Pre-Threaded Needle Is a Pre-Event Lifesaver it’s the day of the Golden Globes, and my client is nominated. We felt we had picked out the perfect dress for her—a gorgeous, French, blue gown that made her look elegant and confident yet comfortable and effortless. We were thrilled. It’s time to go, and just as we’re zipping her up, catastrophe strikes and the zipper breaks. The only option is to sew her right into the dress and worry about how she’ll get it off later. We always carry pre threaded needles and were so thankful to not only that we had them at that exact moment but also that the zipper didn’t give way on the red carpet or at the show itself! She ended up having an amazing night and came home with the coveted statue too. Win, win.
Emergency Kit Essentials You can’t keep a full-on fashion lifeboat in your clutch, but here are the simple essentials I always make sure to have in my emergency kit: double-stick tape (this one’s my favorite), pre-threaded needles, a deodorant sponge, some coins, and a Sharpie.I hope these stories have made you giggle and realize that where there’s a will, there’s a way to fix any wardrobe calamity.