Every costume designer and stylist’s most secret of weapons is a lowly box of double-sided Topstick toupee tape, technically used to keep hairpieces in place on bald men’s heads. But Topstick is also quite useful when it comes to your wardrobe: It can be used to keep bra straps from sliding down (stick your bra strap to the inside of your garment and you’re good to go), to prevent a too long belt end from flapping around (just be sure to peel it off and use a fresh piece after every wearing, as it can tend to remove a leather finish if left on for too long), or to keep the gaps between shirt buttons closed (Topstick can easily be cut into any size you need).
Almost any clothing item or fashion accessory that won’t stay in place can be tamed with a piece of Topstick, and since it’s made with medical-grade adhesive, you can stick it anywhere on your body without ripping off any of your skin — which makes it perfect for low-cut tops. Stick a piece on each of your breasts, lightly press your top down over it, and never worry about flashing bystanders again. Topstick is also what successfully kept J.Lo’s plunging green Versace dress from becoming R-rated at the Grammy Awards way back in 2000.
But there’s a trick to using it successfully: You’ll notice that one side of each piece of Topstick has a small seam where the backing is in two pieces, while the other has a long, solid backing. Start by peeling the long, solid side off first — then sticking the exposed adhesive to your skin or garment. After that, you can easily use a fingernail (or the pointy end of a safety pin) to peel back each half of the split side of the backing.
You can even use it to hem your pants in a pinch — or if you want to save on alterations. Just fold your pants end up to the length you want, sandwich a piece of Topstick between the pant leg and cuff, and iron it in place. This “hem” will stay in place until you decide to peel it off, or until you wash the pants a few times. When a piece of Topstick decides it’s had enough, it releases itself and floats along in the washer like a bandage that has lost its adhesive.
More Costume-Designer Tricks
Self-adhesive moleskin (available in the foot-care aisle at your local drugstore for about five bucks) is an endlessly customizable wardrobe tool that helps relieve the pain of anything that is rubbing you the wrong way, but it’s specifically genius for shoes that slice into your feet. You just cut a piece to your desired size and stick it anywhere inside a shoe that is rubbing, digging, or cutting into your foot. It’s also good for sharp, skinny straps that dig into the top of your foot, and can even be used to line rings that turn your fingers green or to patch a bra with protruding underwire.
I’ve repaired a broken red-carpet dress strap, salvaged a bride’s zipper, fixed a flip-flop blowout, restrung a hoodie, and even done an emergency alteration to a low-cut shirt at a music festival — all with a lowly safety pin. They are even useful to temporarily hold together a broken shoe strap or snapped chain-link necklace clasp. But when my own dress zipper broke moments before I was to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding, I, of course, didn’t have one on hand — and wound up wearing a furry leopard-print coat in every photo to hide the back of my dress. So learn from my mistake and heed the best wardrobe advice anyone will ever give you: Go stash a safety pin or two in all of your handbags right now. One day soon, you’ll be glad you did.
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