Imagine: You show up somewhere fabulous only to realize that, despite your very best efforts, you are wearing precisely the wrong thing. Scary, we know, but don't worry. It happens to everyone, even to Joyce Corrigan, the author of the new book, Marie Claire Outfit 911: Fabulous Fixes for Every Fashion Emergency, which is actually why the magazine's contributing editor decided to right this safety manual of sorts.
The book (on sale now for $24.95) is all about dressing your best no matter what the occasion. From Chapter One's take on dressing for the job interview to the last chapter's tips for getting dressed for "great escapes", you'll be taken step-by-step through building a wardrobe with long-term staying power. Plus, each section offers a short list of investment pieces that are worth the splurge, deal breakers that are never going to win you any fashion points, and helpful anecdotes from some of the biggest names in the industry.
Still, we had some questions for the author about her own experiences dealing with serious style challenges and what we should know right now as we head off to the runways for New York Fashion Week.
What inspired the book. And why should every woman have it on their bookshelves?
This book grew out of a Marie Claire philosophy — that even though the magazine covers new trends every month, there are timeless tips about how to incorporate looks that will always work for you and your lifestyle, regardless of the trend du jour. We felt we could offer words of wisdom for what to wear forever rather than only what to wear right now. This book is meant to be for keeps.
The book is filled with fashion fixes for some of the biggest style emergencies, but let's start with you. What was your biggest 911 moment?
I remember buying a very smart Dries Van Noten blazer for a job interview that didn't button in front but had a big floppy tie. On the way to the interview, I realized just how much it gapped in front, so anyone could get a clear view of my bra! I had to nip into Barneys and nab a little black tank top. Lesson learned: For important occasions, have your own dress rehearsal at home well before heading out.
It seems that you aren't alone in having work-related style stress. Is that one of the most common 911 scenarios?
Well, it's a given that the more accomplished you are professionally, the more demanding your social life will be, in that you get invited to more openings, dinners, galas, book parties… The challenge of how to dress day-to-night is ever-present. Sure, you can always bring a tote to the office filled with strappy sandals, a jeweled clutch and a colossal cocktail ring, but you really want to dress in clothes that seamlessly transition from 9 a.m. until midnight. Think suits in luxurious fabrics, a slimming dress that's feminine but also means business. Boss by day, babe by night — it can be done!
The fashion world's most famous faces — Tim Gunn, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Donna Karan, to name a few — have contributed to this book. What tips of their surprised you most?
Oh, Michael Kors is always so cheeky! And I love how he sings the praises of camel at one moment — it's a neutral that plays well with other colors yet is synonymous with luxury — and then immediately advocates for neon-colored fur trapper hats to lift you from the winter doldrums. Of course, he's right on both counts.
I also love what Amanda Hearst said about considering designers who work with recycled or sustainable materials. You can be just as chic in necklaces of beads handmade in Rwanda! Every fashion choice we make has an impact.
If you could only choose five items in your wardrobe to get you through any style situation, what would you pick?
A black sheath dress, a top-handle bag in luxe leather, a bold coat, and fabulous pumps are must-haves. The last thing I'd never live without is Band-Aid's brilliant purse-sized Friction Block Stick to prevent blisters in case those incredibly chic heels start chafing!
We're in the thick of New York Fashion Week. For those of us trekking all over the city and hitting up shows, what advice do you have to make sure we hold our own with the street style pros?
Since we're talking February Fashion Week, it's all about a statement coat. That way you'll make a grand entrance — or exit! — in a spectacular way. Don't shy away from opulent or fur-trimmed fabrics, shiny gold buttons, or a contrasting handbag. If you've got a car dropping you at the curb, stiletto ankle boots are fine. Otherwise, a polished pair of riding boots or embellished bikers will do!