It was the Friday before a long weekend. It was my first job in the charity sector and I was young. I had come to work dressed in shorts and a tshirt so that I could really clear out my office. The boss was away. Perfect day to clean out old files. Besides, I figured "who is going to stop by our offices today?" Didn't the Board Chair show up at 4 pm. With a cheque. Didn't I feel like an idiot?
It doesn't happen often, but several times in my career, I have needed to be dressed up for work when I didn't expect it. Here is my list of what to have in your emergency kit in your office. Not medical emergency, appearance emergency.
A good blazer or jacket can get you out of almost any mess. Pick a neutral colour so you can wear it any season. Since I only wear this thing about once every five years, I got mine at a thrift store. Remember this is not about fashion forward, this is just about looking reasonably professional at a moment's notice.
Stock an extra pair of good shoes. This is a good place to keep that pair of shoes you bought that look really good but are actually not very comfortable. That way you still have them but you only wear them in a pinch. You can use a sharpie for emergency "shoe polish" to cover any scuffed spots.
Spare skirt or slacks
Similar to the blazer, pick something neutral. I have a skirt in my drawer that I can't bear to throw out but you can also go the thrift store route.
Spare pair of socks, tights or nylons
Actually this is a good idea anyway. If you get to work with wet feet, it is nice to have a change of socks, tights or nylons.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
Your dentist will love you.
Tape also works well.
Hair product and a comb
This is a great place to store that hair product where you don't like the smell. Or when you are down to the end of the container. Bring that last dollop into work.
Lipstick (if you are a make-up wearer)
My mom was right - a dash of lipstick can pull together a whole outfit.
None of this should take up much space. Pretty much every office has an old file cabinet. As you can see from the photo, my stuff in in a file drawer marked "Yiddish." I have no idea why the drawer says that but it was empty so there is my stuff, neatly hidden but ready when I need it.
So the next time a VIP walks into the front door, instead of panic, just stroll to the washroom and get changed.
What do you think? Anything else to add? Give your ideas in the comments below.