+ Tips and Tricks

The Hill Life: Belle's Secret Stash

I’ll never forget the day that I moved into my cube.  It was so clean, so new, so…tiny.  But despite the Lilliputian accommodations, the cube was mine, all mine.  And it’s a good thing too, since my lower drawers are filled to the brim with possessions designed to keep me comfortable and looking professional while at work. 

Putting my best foot forward. Drawer number one is full of shoes.  And I mean full.  At present, there are five pairs of high heels residing inside the drawer.  While not ideal, this is far preferable to the haphazard, Everest-sized pile of shoes that I often see shoved under staffer’s desks. 

If you must keep your shoes at work (and I like to have a few pairs on hand), then please, put them where people (the Boss) can’t see them.  It looks incredibly tacky and unprofessional to carelessly heaped on the floor.  So clear a space in a drawer or cupboard and store them there.  Out of room? 

Tuck them inside a cloth grocery bag or a box under your desk, at least this way, they won’t be visible to passersby.

Stay Comfy, D.C.  Capitol Hill offices are notoriously chilly.  Sub-arctic, actually.  The only way to survive is to keep a heating pad (yes, a heating pad), hot cocoa/tea bags, and a warm scarf/wrap on hand.  No one wants to be the shivering staffer who can’t talk through all the teeth chattering. 

And to keep my health in tip-top shape, I keep a Costco-sized bottle of Tylenol, a box of Emergen-C and bottle of multi-vitamins on hand at all times.  You never know when an unexpected headache or cold will crop up to ruin your day and your productivity.

Be Prepared, that’s the CHS Motto. Lastly, drawer number three is filled with emergency essentials.  These include (prepare yourself): A lint roller, a Tide pen, a bottle of Febreeze, a bottle of Downy wrinkle releaser, a can of Static guard, a sewing kit, and a small container filled with Woolite (for the really stubborn stains).  These items keep my attire looking professional all day long.  There also a great way to ingratiate yourself to your co-workers, particularly if those co-workers often splatter things on their ties or lose buttons from their jackets.

Aside from the emergency essentials, I also keep a makeup bag full of beauty products.  Nothing crazy, this isn’t a salon, but if my hair gets ruined on the way to work (which happens often) or I’m unexpectedly invited out after work, I like to be prepared.  I keep a small curling iron, a can of hairspray, a hairbrush and two Velcro rollers (to restore volume) in my desk.  I also keep a stash of hair ties and bobby pins which I try to replenish regularly. 

I don’t keep makeup though because, thanks to a Laura Mercier primer, I almost never need a touch up.  I also keep a small bottle of lotion and a bottle of top coat (to stay the inevitable chips), just in case.

Of course, you don’t need to run out and buy all of these items.  Most women can get by with far less, but I’m not most women.  Does that mean I’m high-maintenance?  Sure, why not.  But caring about your comfort and appearance at work (since you spend 50+ hours per week there) isn’t a crime.

So while my drawers full of supplies may draw funny looks from some of my co-workers, those looks fade pretty quickly when they need a hair tie, a Tide pen or a button sewn back on.  Like I said, it’s good to be prepared.

So, ladies, what do you keep in your drawers?



  1. K says:

    Other great items to have on hand: mints, toothbrush/toothpaste, band-aids, and a nail file.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  2. Lisatella says:

    Neosporin and bandaids go a long way when papercuts interrupt your day. I also keep Benadryl cream and Tums.

    You'd be amazed at how grateful people will be if you offer a day-saver from your abyss of supplies!

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  3. missbliss says:

    I keep a cute little LeSportSac mini in case there is anything I want to transport to the powder room, pass to a friend, or otherwise conceal from unwanted attention! I do think it's important to not be obvious about not only your “personal” items, but about your beauty/style items in general…you don't want to give the impression that they are in any way a big focus of your attention.

    Great tips, Belle!

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  4. Meg says:

    The only thing I can possible think to add to your list is a spare umbrella! DC weather is very unpredictable and it seems to rain only when I'm trying to head home…

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  5. lisa turtle says:

    fray check (for runs in stockings as well as frays), spare tights in each color i tend to wear, baby powder for summer and bad hair days 🙂

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  6. L says:

    love this post… now if only i could find the time/energy to actually clean out a drawer…

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  7. Belle says:


    I forgot to mention my spare umbrella. Also, make sure it's black. My male co-workers would rather drown in a flood than borrow my extra pink umbrella to get home.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  8. K says:

    I have many of those items in my desk, too. Especially lots of shoes, tylenol, and hair bands. Other things:
    – safety pins for wardrobe malfunctions (easier for me than the sewing kit)
    – neosporin and bandaids for blisters
    – sunscreen for unexpected outdoor lunches
    – really good lotion to combat the drying restroom soap (I like Lush Helping Hands)
    – a small mirror to check my teeth
    – hammer and nails for putting things on the walls
    – one set of dishes and utensils

    I don't have one, but it's also nice if someone in the office has a seam ripper on hand for when you wear a new garment and forgot that the pockets are sewn shut.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  9. Angela says:

    I also have: hand sanitizer (if I can't leave my desk), a small umbrella for unexpected rain, and clorox wipes. The air is so stale here and if people are always touching everything and using things on your desk (especially keyboard and/or phone) I need to keep the germs away!

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  10. R says:

    A copy of my resume 😉

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  11. Brunch Bird says:

    I have the requisite extra pair of heels, but I also keep a spare dress in there in case I come in casual and have to suddenly run to a meeting with a bigshot.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  12. Hannah says:

    It's a relief to hear that someone else goes for the maximum preparedness approach! I had most of these things in travel size stuck in my purse when I was interning, and I felt totally silly about it, but the last thing I wanted was to be the intern with a stain on my shirt or a run in my tights. And sharing my band-aids and blister pads earned me some good friends among my fellow rookie high heel-wearers. The only things I'd add to your list are a vial of perfume and those colgate Wisp things if you don't want to deal with a toothbrush.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  13. Lauren says:

    I have most of these things in my desk, but the best thing that I've learned to store is a spare pair of nude underwear! Sometimes things just happen, and nude is by far the most universal color to keep on hand no matter what you're wearing!

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  14. jw says:

    Blister band-aids!!

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  15. Rachel says:

    I completely agree about the pile of shoes under the desk – super tacky. I totally judge all of you who do it! 🙂

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  16. Leah says:

    I picked up a Mini-mergency kit from Mr. and Mrs from a local make-up boutique. Uh-mazing. It's the size of a small apple but has everything from earring backs, a tiny vial of hairspray, clear nailpolish, floss, breath drops, tampon, a deodorant pad and more- you name it and it's probably in there. Toss the inconspicous silver pouch in my hand bag and I am prepared for anything. It even fit inside the new clutch I got for New Year's Eve.

    In my desk drawer, I keep a a tiny travel sized jar for just enough foundation for a quick touch up, dual end shadow/eye liner, and a lip/cheek tint- multipurpose makeup is essential. There is no way I will show up to a HH looking drab from a long day at work.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  17. B says:

    When I worked on the Hill my favorite thing to keep at my desk was a thin, navy microfleece blanket. Like the kind you would get at Walmart for $4.99. I would wrap it around my bottom half as I sat at my desk, because my office was kept at a painful 55 degrees. If you just walked through the office it looked like I was wearing a navy skirt, but it was crucial to keep the hypothermia at bay!

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  18. gingerr says:

    I have a roll of paper towels and a spare shopping bag so I don't have to give five cents to DC when I go to CVS to replenish my stocks.

    Shoes fit well into an empty xerox paper box and shoved under the desk.

    If you're close to a CVS then you might as well buy a case of sodas. If you are a soda drinker it's a money saver.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  19. Katherine says:

    I keep a lot of those things on hand, as well as dental floss, deodorant (yes, I went to work w/o it on once), nail clippers and nail polish remover pads. I'm considering getting fingerless gloves since my office is freezing too.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  20. lorrwill says:

    Belle, great timing! One of my do-tos for the new year is to stock are real office survival kit, like you have. Thank for this info and for inspiring some great comments.

    Right now I have some tea and stevia, a water glass and a coffee mug, toothbrush and toothpaste and that's about it. Sad, I know.

    January 20, 2011/Reply
  21. An says:

    Genius. I love it all.

    January 20, 2011/Reply