Five Things to Leave Under Your Desk in Case of Emergency

You’ve become a pro at doing what you need to when you hate your outfit but can’t change, right?

That’s great.

I hope those pigtails look as divine on you as they do in my mind’s rendering of you.

But there’s a more important question to consider in conjunction with outfit-hating that we seem to be overlooking: why can’t you change?

The supposition is that you spend most of your time either at school or working. If you’re still in school, you probably have a locker. That deep, rectangular cubby is like your car, your home, your handbag. Use it wisely — as a Second-Aid Kit. If you work, the assumption is that you’ve got a desk for one reason and one reason only: to stow belongings underneath it or inside of it but never on top of it so that the next time you get there and think to yourself, self, this was a good idea in theory but is proving to look ridiculous-in-a-bad-way in action, there is a pantheon of opportunity in the form of five items to rectify your wrongs.

Y’all ready for ‘dis?

1. A beauty kit. Look into my eyeballs and rapid-fire the three most important beauty products you use. For me, that’s dry shampoo for volume, blush for color, namely when I turn green in December, and either lipstick or mascara for when I do want to wear makeup. Keep those things in a little bag under your desk — apply when you feel like poop, not to be confused with shampoop and then feel like kitty litter!

2. A pair of flats. Often, a simple shoe will change the entire course of your outfit/mood. I keep a pair of satin Supergas under my desk and they have heretofore never let me down. You might want to keep a more traditional pair of flats under yours. That’s okay. Can I suggest these?

3. A pair of heels. When flats don’t work, I will give you one try to guess what always, always, never does not work. Yes! It’s heels! I’d suggest a height no taller than 4 inches or shorter than two and a half and want to propose the following because they are diverse. Like student-exchange diverse.

4. A clean white shirt. I’d opt for an oxford* because there is an almost zero percent chance that it wouldn’t come in handy if you wanted to change your blouse. Unless you’re already wearing one in which case I really have to wonder how you could have possibly fucked up a white button down? Tie it at the waist if you want to feel different, button it all the way up if you’re Bowery-bound or leave it completely unbuttoned if you want to free the nipple. You will not be disappointed.

*You can totally leave a supplementary white t-shirt under there if buttons aren’t your bag. Motor skills aren’t for everyone, ya know?

5. A piece of jewelry that will change the game more comprehensively than Michael Jordan changed golf. Get it? Because the only thing he did to golf was make it slightly more enjoyable for the plebeian eye?

Did I solve all your life qualms? Leave anything off? Everything off? LMK.

-Leandra Medine

Image shot by Steven Pan for Interview Magazine, 2010

  • Tampons, Red Vines, knitting needles and yarn.

    • Maui

      who are you and how did you know

  • ee_by_cc

    I feel like if you have the means to have an emergency blazer on-hand, it’s a quick way to polish up your look. But super thorough list, I’d say it covers all of my essentials!

    • Leandra Medine

      Blazer! You are far wiser than I.

    • Fuck, that’s a good one girl. Forgot to bring mine on vacation and I feel grumpy.

  • Tide-to-go and a sewing kit. YOU NEVER KNOW

    • jmt

      Almost had a melt down the other day, because u got Nars foundation on a white designer blouse right before walking into a party with grown ups. Luckily, the Tide pen saved the brand new shirt, Chanel mascara, and my dignity

  • Dominique
  • I need a piece of jewelry, snacks, & a light cardigan. After that I can take over the world…kinda. :] // ☼

  • Amelia

    a clutch !

  • BethanyBeach

    I always have an emergency luna bar on my person so I’m never stuck paying for food I wouldn’t like because I’m hungry

    • Leandra Medine

      That’s how I feel about most shoes. Also, though, yuo should switch to Lara Bars

      • BethanyBeach

        I love lara bars too! Their protein ones are great

  • Whitney V

    Totally. Get it all, especially the shoes. I would have as many pairs as possible in case I hate my outfit for whatever reason, anyway! And always a comb, ALWAYS a comb!

  • Elyse

    You forgot whiskey.

  • Dani


  • an umbrella, a silk scarf for when you’re feeling fancy/the office ac is blasting, teabags of various kinds for various ailments/moods/seasons

    • K-dog

      and snacks!

  • lots of nuts and a solid tea collection ANNNDDD an effing cell phone charger because my phone likes to shut off at a cool 82%.

  • Sully Ann

    Also a Tide Bleach pen is great for when you accidentally get a stain! I hate having that annoying little stain all day.

  • Estee

    My additions: tea tree toothpicks, pair of scissors, tea towel, “real” fork and spoon, $20 in personal petty cash in case of lost wallet or funky ATM.

  • Julia

    Perhaps a new pairs of pants, or a skirt as well incase there are any “monthly” mishaps! Or sometimes I get to school and realize that the skirt looks quite different sitting down than it does standing up.

  • Marie

    A sample tube of perfume, and some deodorant to cover the skank of the day. A couple bobby pins and a scarf (for head, for body, for when I’m in a mood and hate what I’m wearing by 6PM). Also, I second the blazer.

  • meche

    Don Draper would be proud.

  • I would also add a scarf and a blazer, plus some sunblock for when there’s a sudden lunch-meeting outside!

  • CarlotaLMorais

    Missing food and some perfume. I feel like a good scent just ties the outfit together I dont know!!!

  • ViviBlondie

    English Breakfast Tea Bags, Perfume, Gum, petty cash, a spare pair of heels and a shawl as the air-con is set to freezing all summer long!

  • Am I the only one who always has chocolate under there?… and in multiple drawers?

    • Ariel

      Nope! I was waiting for someone to say chocolate.. that’s always a must.

  • Corinne

    Peanut butter.

  • Camila

    And chocolate. Definitely.

  • Amanda Satchwell

    Pepto Bismol tablets/minty Tums. Switching perfumes flips my moods faster than anything.

    • Krystal Smith

      Ah yes, Pepto! Been there!

  • CgC Daily

    Definitely need a blazer in case of emergency meeting or dinner to help dress up any look! Also always keep a snack in your desk!

  • Krystal Smith

    Tampons for sure! Deodorant, hairbrush and hair ties, snacks and lipgloss/chapstick. Oh and breathe mints!

  • This is really helpful since I just started working today! I’m going to quickly develop my own emergency kit.

  • LM Please help me overcome my resistance of buying/wearing new jewellery. How does one start their jewellery collection when they are a same-thing-errday kinda gal?

    • OOH and also how do I justify buying a necklace over a pair of shoes? HALP.

  • Linda Kenyon

    ChapStick, solid Secret, tea, extra notebook and pen.

  • Linda Kenyon

    …And put it in a shoe box decorated like a First Aid kit!

  • mariacat

    And a bottle of wine.

  • Mariah

    This is a great list. I think starting here and personalizing it is best. Think about “what do I find myself wanting/needing in the middle of the day?” I would think a portable stain remover would need to be in this emergency fashion kit.

  • Fancy flats (because if they’re fancy enough they may absolve you of your duty to the high heel of it all), definitely some jewellery, the beauty kit, a tee and a cardigan (because Cape Town Weather is a living being, and I feel like she’s a two-faced sadist).

  • I have a pretty vibrant loose leaf tea collection stored away at swanky desk I am not supposed to be inhabiting. Shout out to people being away for maternity leave (aka ETERNITY leave amirite???)

  • Julie

    I guess I keep a lot more in my desk drawer than most people.

    – make up bag (blotting powder/sheets, makeup wipes, mascara, bb cream, lip balm)
    – diddy bag (mini deodorant, a perfume rollerball, hair ties/pins, tampons, meds, tide pen mini lint roller, dry shampoo, mini bottle of moroccan oil)
    – clothing (extra flats, extra sandals, one extra “work outfit” and an item or two i can thrown on/exchange for my work attire if i decide to go out & spend the night at a friends etc)
    – a few snacks, tea
    – phone charger, umbrella, extra headphones

    • WhiteLady

      Wow, and I thought I was always over-prepared… 😉
      (It’s meant in the best of ways)

  • On the go

    Love it!! I need a hair clip, snacks and some liquor to make it bulletproof.

  • Marianne Ronsse

    I’m all for being prepared just in case as long as it stays organised. I don’t like the inside of my bag or desk to look like a collection of miscellaneous items mixed with half empty cookie boxes and stuff. That makes me feel like an old granny. Or when my bag is so crowded with items I might need (you never know) that the chances I get to my phone on time when someone calls me are close to zero.

  • hello

    Toothbrush and toothpaste anyone?!

  • Isabel

    A hefty tea collection
    Chapstick and hand lotion very easily accessible
    Headphones for annoying loud coworkers or when Taylor Swift releases a new song
    Scrap paper, very important for grocery lists and things to Google when you get home