For many women, Memorial Day weekend means it is time to pull out the white pants and sandals. For me, it's also the time to stash a clean, white sleeveless T-shirt in my desk drawer.
And possibly another one in the trunk of my car (after I vacuum out the debris left from transporting flats of flowers).
I'm not sure when – or after which coffee spill? – I started doing this. I do, however, remember reading in one of my favorite fashion books that a spare white T-shirt or two can be a "hot weather lifesaver."
In the book "Dressing Smart: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Style," Pamela Redmond Satran actually recommended that women buy an entire package of men's plain white T-shirts, size large, to keep on hand.
"In case of an emergency, break the plastic," she wrote.
Such fashion emergencies might include needing something to throw over your swimsuit. Or to pair with shorts when you just spilled ketchup on the shirt you were wearing.
(And guests are over for a backyard barbecue; I threw in that part.)
This book was published more than 20 years ago, but summer spills never go out of style.
Here are some of Satran's other timeless hot weather lifesavers:
* A loose, unlined jacket. Make it cotton, so it's cool, and dark, so it's not always at the dry cleaners.
* Lightweight black pants. I have a pair of black linen ones I love. Sure they wrinkle some, but they are incredibly cool. Satran recommended women choose ones that are casual enough to roll up and wear to the beach but dressy enough to wear with a nice top out to dinner.
* Espadrilles (which happen to be very popular this year). When you see a pair of inexpensive classic ones – plain canvas with a flat heel – buy them, she wrote.
"Then wait for the first time you need something to get across that rocky path to the beach, the first time you realize your heels don't look right with that long, gauzy skirt ... Want to bet your $10 espadrilles you thought you'd never wear are worn out by the end of the summer?"
* A comfortable, unadorned dress. Keep it simple – maybe in black or tan linen and cut straight to the knee – and you can wear it anywhere.
Her other suggestions included a Lisle cotton-knit (smooth finish) cardigan to wear over everything from a bathing suit to a linen dress. A short, slim white skirt. And a long, loose skirt.
The spare white T-shirts still top my list. I'll also be adding a few other things to my next shopping list. Perhaps a couple of Tide To Go instant stain removers, including a mini size for my purse. A stain stick or two for home.
And maybe even a coffee travel mug that does not leak.