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Common Wardrobe Malfunctions: 19 Brilliant Tricks to Fix Them

How a paper clip can attach a button and an eraser can fix your suede bag.

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iStock/Patricia Nelson

Use a pencil to fix a zipper

If your zipper gets stuck moving up and down, lubricate its teeth by rubbing them on both sides with a lead pencil. To ward off stickiness in the first place, run over each new zipper with a piece of wax paper. The waxy finish will allow your zipper to move more freely.

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Attach a button with a paper clip

Don’t hide in your office if you lose a button at work. You can fix it easily. Using the holes made by the original thread, push a straightened-out paper clip up through the garment, through one of the holes in the button, down through another hole, and back through the second original hole in the clothing. Twist the ends of the paper clip together, and bend them until the metal lies flat against your garment. Now get back to work!

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Fix a glove with a marble

If you have a glove with a frayed fingertip, let a marble come to your rescue. Place it into the fingertip so that the fabric is stretched out and smooth—the way you want it when you sew. Simply sew the glove back to working condition.

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iStock/Charles Schug

Use a magnet to wear a brooch without a pin

Grandma’s brooch may be beautiful, but do you really want to put holes in your favorite silk blouse to show it of? No, you don’t. And you don’t have to. Take off the shaft of the brooch and superglue a magnet to the back. Once it dries completely, hold it where you want it on your blouse, and put the opposing magnet on the inside of the blouse. The magnets will hold the brooch just like a pin—without the damage to your wardrobe.

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Clean suede with an eraser

Rub gently with an eraser not only to remove minor stains and marks from suede shoes and bags, but also to fluff up the suede fibers.

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Hide a stain with correction fluid

Your white blouse is perfect except for a dot of ink on the cuff, and you can’t get that drip of red wine out of the tablecloth. Use a tiny dab of correction fluid to cover the stains. Here are tricks to remove grease stains, to clean up blood stains, and get rid of ink stains.

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Round up a broken necklace in a candy tin

Don’t let a broken necklace break your heart. Find as many pieces as you can, and store them in a candy tin. Take the tin with you the next time you visit the jewelry shop.

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iStock/Magalí Izaguirre

Protect your pants with bubble wrap

Keep unwanted creases from imprinting themselves on the slacks you hang in your closet by wrapping the hangers in bubble wrap. Roll a layer of bubble wrap around the hanger bar, making sure that the smooth side of the wrap faces the pants and the bubbles face the bar. Keep the wrap in place with duct tape. P.S.: Did you know that bubble wrap is not a generic term? It’s not! And neither are these words you didn’t realize were trademarked.

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Replace an earring back with an eraser

The backs of earrings seem to have a magical—and disturbing—way of disappearing, often at crucial times. As long as you have a pencil cap eraser nearby, you can fix the situation pronto. Cut a small part off the eraser with a knife or scissors, and stick the eraser on the back of the earring to keep it in place.

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Use staples or double stick tape to repair a hem

Staples and safety pins are good tools to use on a torn hem, but double-stick tape is even better because it won’t show. Lay the pants or skirt on a table, counter, or desk, and cut a length of double stick tape the width and length of the tar. Place the tape onto the hem, and then firmly press the two pieces of fabric together. Return to the world with confidence!

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iStock/Jean-Louis Viretti

Make a shoelace with gift ribbon

Shoelaces have a tendency to break at the worst possible time—usually as you tie them on your way out the door. If you don’t have an extra on hand and have place to go and things to do, just replace your shoelace with a ribbon until you can buy another one.

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Make a collar less harsh with tissue paper

Starched collars often look harsh. Give your blouse or shirt collar a softer look by placing a twisted piece of tissue paper underneath it.

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Use a pencil case to protect stockings

Don’t let your suitcase or its contents make runs in your stockings. Roll them up and stack them in a pencil case when you travel.

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iStock/Olga Lapshina

Prevent knots in jewelry with a straw

Use a straw as a jewelry chain protector. Just run your necklace through a straw, then close the clasp. The straw will keep the chain from getting tangled. Your necklaces will always be ready to go. Here’s how to use spare socks to keep jewelry safe when you travel.

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Staple your pants shut

Splitting the seam of your pants is embarrassing in any circumstances and is particularly mortifying if you’re at work and can’t change them immediately. Save face by ducking into a restroom with a stapler. After you’ve removed your pants, line the seam up as it was previously sewn, making sure about half an inch of material remains on either side of the seam, and staple the seam shut. These are dozens of other extraordinary uses for staples.

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iStock/Ersin KISACIK

Use a paperclip to get your iron working again

Don’t settle for wrinkled clothes just because your iron isn’t running smoothly. Minerals may be clogging the steam ports on the bottom of the appliance if it doesn’t emit steam the way it should. Unplug your iron, let it cool, and then try cleaning out the ports with the end of a straightened paperclip.

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Use masking tape to repair an umbrella

Fix a broken umbrella rib with masking tape and a coat hanger. Cut a length of wire from the hanger and attach it to the damaged rib with masking tape. You’ll be ready for the next rainstorm.

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iStock/Bruce Lonngren

Create a mini sewing kit with a candy tin

Store a few needles, thread, a thimble, straight pins, safety pins, and a button or two in a candy tin, and keep it in your suitcase or desk drawer as an emergency sewing kit. You’ll have plenty of supplies to make quick repairs when you’re on the road.

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Use bubble wrap to maintain shoe shape

Place a small piece of rolled-up bubble wrap in each of your shoes to help them maintain their shape. Roll up longer pieces to keep the calves of your boots upright, which will keep their shape.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest