Arriving Fashionable When You are Running Un-Fashionably Late

by Rachel Yeomans | September 21st, 2009   

This morning I was called in to a conference with a mere 30 minutes to dress and commute and arrive without looking as haphazard as I felt. As soon as I answered the email immediately post-shower and knowing that my terry-cloth robe would not be acceptable among the other business suits, I rushed to my closet to debate how I would arrive there looking professional, fashionable, and above all – calm and collected.

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I knew the most important thing was to keep it simple. I grabbed what I knew fit, and what looked good. It was a v-neck knee-length Kay Unger dress with brown, white and black print as I also knew it would work with my over-worn but go-with-everything black Kenneth Cole pumps. Over it I threw my go-to sleeveless BCBG blazer. With the added professional blazer bulk, however, I knew I needed a belt. Eureka! I just bought a large belt from Francesca’s with the exact same coloring as the beige in the dress. Earrings – cubic studs. Hair – threw in a low bun. Makeup – thrown in purse to be applied in cab. Threw on shoes, made sure keys, wallet, phone and business cards were in my go-to oversized dark plum vintage handbag, and ran out the door to grab a taxi. I was just 10 minutes late and no one suspected a thing (after I had a deep-breathing zen moment outside the conference room doors). During the break, several people even complimented my outfit!

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This event made me realize something – I really need to plan ahead for when I have similar emergency situations, especially if I haven’t even showered yet. Do you have an emergency go-to ensemble and routine for when you need to be somewhere with less than an hour to spare? If you do, I applaud you and am now following in your footsteps. Here’s the plan I came up with:

Summer
* Sleeveless knee-length dress with basic color or print with colors that match go-to
and comfortable pumps
* Sleeveless or short-sleeved blazer (preferably black as that is the primary color in
my wardrobe)
* Matching or complimentary belt if necessary
* Matching or black work pumps
* One oversized handbag always holding a set of business cards and notepad
for emergency grab-and-go’s
* Cubic or diamond studs and silver cuff and simple oversized ring on opposite hand
* Money in wallet for cab fare

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Winter
* Black slacks
* Crisp blouse long enough to tuck in
* Matching or complimentary thin belt for slacks
* Matching or black work pumps
* Thin black trouser socks
* Black waist-length double-button (preferably pearl buttons or buttons that stand out
as I may not have time for accessories) long-sleeved blazer
* One oversized handbag always holding a set of business cards and notepad
for emergency grab-and-go’s
* Cubic or diamond studs, large pearl necklace or black beads
and simple oversized ring on opposite hand
* Black wool trench coat
* Money in wallet for cab fare

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As for make-up, I now have a make-up bag ready to be thrown in any purse equipped with travel-size tinted moisturizer, concealer, blush/eyeshadow combo set in a neutral brown and pink, tweezers for eyebrow strays, sample of perfume, hair pins, pocket mirror, and a tube of a neutral colored lipstick. I also will always have a travel brush set conveniently located next to the make-up bag for grab-and-go’s. For my hair, whether wet or dry, it’s going in a bun. If it still doesn’t look quite as put together, I’ll throw on a thin black headband for added smoothness and spray on some hair spray.

I learned this lesson of emergency preparation the hard way. Don’t learn by my example and start planning ahead now. You don’t know when that last-minute phone call will ring.

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