Celebrity stylists are basically the Olivia Popes of the fashion world. Not only do they carry out their red carpet vision on behalf of their A-list clients, but they act as professional fixers who take care of last-minute crises, problem-solve, and avert disasters on the fly. As celebrity stylist Cristina Ehrlich once put it: "I have to be a stylist, a life coach, and a therapist at the same time."
The source of their strength? A thought-out, fully stocked styling kit packed with solutions for every kind of worst-case scenario imaginable. As all of Hollywood (and us) gear up for the Oscars (aka the awards show of all awards shows), you can bet that they're making their list (of red carpet life savers) and checking it twice. We reached out to three of Hollywood's most powerful stylists and asked them to reveal everything that they will have on hand in case of emergencies. And even though you might not take a stroll down the red carpet anytime soon, these helpful insights are good for, well, life.
Double-Sided Fashion Tape
Double-sided tape is the number one must-have across the board. It's the key to preventing wardrobe malfunctions. "I always carry double-sided tape in my wallet—you may never know when you need it," says Penny Lovell, who dresses Rose Byrne, Anne Hathaway, and Kristen Wiig. "One year before a red carpet event, I dropped by to say hi to a client—I wasn't working, so I didn't have my kit with me—and the tailoring wasn't done correctly and the dress's neckline was too revealing. But thanks to the tape in my wallet, it was fixed. Thank god I had it." Everyone's favorite: Topstick ($10; wardrobesupplies.com)
A Portable Steamer
"Joy Mangano, hands down, has the best portable steamer—it doesn't spit, it doesn't ruin clothes, and it deserves to be acknowledged," says Cristina Ehrlich, who styles Brie Larson, Allison Williams, and Penelope Cruz. "I always travel with a portable steamer. A lot of women will pack their dress in their suitcase, which can create wrinkles, and you just don't want to chance it, especially right before a big event."
Bandaids in every color, size, shape, and form are always good to have on standby (for cuts, blister prevention, and such), but Ehrlich swears by Compeed, a European brand of silicone plasters that you can now buy stateside. "Bandaids look like Bandaids, but these look like skin, and they're great," she says. "Wrap them around your heel and around your toes to help prevent blisters."
A Mini Sewing Kit
"I always take the mini sewing kits that you get in hotels," Lovell laughs. "They're so useful—there's a needle, different color thread, everything is in there. And so, if a zipper breaks, someone can sew you into your dress."
Spanx, Wacoal, and Commando are just a few of the shapewear brands that stylists have in their kit during red carpet prep. The most popular? "The high-waisted short that starts from under your breasts and go all the way down to your knees," says stylist Tara Swennen, who dresses Kristen Stewart, Emily Ratajkowski, and Odeya Rush. "You get the coverage on the tummy and you don't get the lines on your thigh, which are visible underneath a thin dress. Women just feel locked and loaded in it, like nothing can go wrong, nothing is going anywhere, and those are the ones that disappear from my kit non-stop."
"Brands used to make nipple covers that just covered the nipple, which almost looks even worse," Swennen says. "We use ones that have full coverage, so that you can wear way more things without a bra. Nippies makes the best."
Insoles/Ball Cushions/Heel Liners
"We have every kind of shoe pad—gel, leather, full ones, half ones (they're the most popular), three-quarter ones, heel liners," Lovell lists. "It's a very personal thing, because it's very specific to the shoe and the foot. If you're thinking about investing in a pair of expensive shoes that you'll wear for awhile, bring a shoe pad with you when you're trying them on, because you might need to size up. Cushions really do make a difference in comfort."
Non-Slip Shoe Grips
On the topic of shoes, Swennen says she uses shoe grips that she's coined "grippies." "They're an adhesive that you put at the bottom of the shoe, so that if you're presenting at an awards show, they prevent you from slipping on stage," she says. "Whereas 10 years ago, people used to mark up the bottom of their Louboutins."
"Sometimes a girl will come to us straight from the airport, and so I have Lipton tea bags (not black tea—they'll stain) to help de-puff eyes," Ehrlich says. "I also carry this incredible "Lift and Plump" sheet mask by Dr. Lancer that gives you this amazing glow in 15 minutes. It's a really nice way to hydrate."
Chalk or Wite-Out
"One year, a client was in a white gown and we don't know how, but a foundation mark got on the back of her dress," Lovell recalls. "We used Wite-Out to cover it up—we have it in our styling kit for that reason. White chalk works too. It's a temporary fix, but it works."
Straws and Hairnets
"We have straws for our girls to drink from after they're done with hair and makeup," Ehrlich says. "And hairnets for covering their face when we have pull a dress over their head."
Other noteworthy items that deserve a shout-out: Neosporin, Advil, lint roller, toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash, body lotion, Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow foundation for the body (for skin touch-ups), Evian water mist, suede brush, all sorts of fasteners (buttons, hooks, eyes, necklace extenders), seam ripper, safety pins, spray starch (for stubborn wrinkles), Stitch Witchery (for temporarily hemming a dress or pant), a belt hole puncher (to make a belt tighter—works for shoe straps too), little bags of almonds (for a quick pick-me-up), and Shout wipes (to remove accidental stains—just remember to test it first on the inside of the hem).