New Year’s Eve is not my favorite night of the year. Which is unusual, since the occasion involves two things I generally like (Champagne and dressing up) and lacks the major stressors of the rest of the holiday season (buying gifts, family). But inevitably, by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, I’m tired, cranky and distracted — the perfect setup for a party disaster. Not just unsavory hookups and lost car keys, but the kinds of clothes-mindeded calamities that can shut an evening down. I’ll spare you the gory details, but offer some advice learned the hard way.

I’ve snapped a heel. This only has to happen to you once before you realize the only way to prevent it ever happening again is to be prepared. Carry a small tube of Super Glue in your evening bag. When the heel snaps, try to stay up on your tiptoes and find a safe place to sit down. If there’s a nail from the base of the shoe to the heel, coat the nail with glue and re-attach. If it’s a clean break between the base and the heel, or within the heel itself, dry both pieces and apply a thin coat of glue to one piece. Reattach, apply pressure, and stay put for a while. Take the shoe to a professional the next business day.

I’ve spilled my drink down the front of my dress. First rule of thumb: Match your drink to your outfit. In other words, don’t wear pastels and drink Irish coffee. Stick to clear liquids and/or black clothing if at all possible. The stain-removal prescription for red wine and dark juices like cranberry is a pain, usually a combination of club soda and/or salt. Douse stain liberally with club soda; the carbonation will help draw out the stain. Blot gently. You can also pour salt onto the wine to absorb the liquid and then scrape off gently. In a pinch, even kitty litter will absorb wine. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped me from drinking (and spilling) red wine. Second rule of thumb: Always, always, bring a wrap.

I’ve been thrown up on. Obviously, make sure your sick friend is safe and getting help before running immediately for the faucet. Remove any, uh, remaining solids, then try to run clear water through the fabric, not over it, and, as always, blot gently with a towel. Find some baking soda and mix with enough water to make a paste. Very carefully apply to the stain and work in, let dry, scrape off. This will neutralize the acid in the stain and help prevent that kindergarten smell for the rest of the night.

I’ve busted my zipper and stepped into my hem. Nestled next to that small tube of Super Glue in your handbag should be a few safety pins of various sizes. If a zipper comes away at the seam, pin the two pieces together, keeping the pin as straight as possible. But if the zipper is stuck, try rubbing it with a bar of soap (you are in the bathroom when you discover your zipper’s stuck, right?) or a wax candle. If your heel gets caught in your hem and a small bit tears, the safety pins should work. Masking tape is the classic choice, however, if it’s available (regular Scotch tape isn’t adhesive enough). Take bad hems and zippers to the tailor post-party.

Some fashion emergencies should just be avoided at all costs (burn marks from fireworks, melted fake fur from standing too close to the heater) and if they do happen, taken as a sign the night is over. But for the usual cuts and sprains of the fashion world, be prepared and keep your head up. You can start fresh in the new year.

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