The big cover-up

From hickies to hangovers, here are the best ways to cover up your indiscretions in the office.

Years ago, I was one month into a new role when I stumbled into the office three hours late after a rather hellish night. Wearing the same clothes as the day before and reeking of god knows what, my editor asked me into her office for a chat.

Looking into my bloodshot eyes, she said in a calm and even tone: “Your current state is clearly punishment enough. Take the rest of the day off, go home and get some sleep. There will be no ramifications this time around, but if you turn up like this again you’ll be out on your arse.”

She was a great boss.

Australians are known the world over for being marathon drinkers. While this is nothing to be proud of, it is a rich tradition of which I am a part. As a result I have also become far more adept at hiding the fallout.

For starters, a crisp white shirt will go a long way to hide your hangover. As long as you pop in a little Visine to take care of your sleep-deprived peepers, it’ll help deflect from your beer ravaged face.

Next up, always dress one notch above your usual attire. You don’t need to look like you’re popping off to a job interview on your lunch break, but making an effort will help confuse people long enough for you to slink away.

If you don’t wear hair product, make sure to borrow some of your partner or flatmate’s. Ditto when it comes to fragrances – which will also help to muddy the waters when it comes to the booze seeping from your pores.

Then there are the unforeseen consequences that come from a big night. You could be checking out your newly slick hairdo in the elevator mirrors only to catch sight of an unsightly hickey you didn’t see when you stumbled out of the house half an hour earlier. One word: scarf. Even if you’re office is air conditioned, just say you have a cold.


If it’s the middle of summer, thank your lucky stars for the popularity of MasterChef’s Matt Preston and indulge in a cravat. It may not be your style but you’re no longer 16 and hickeys are a far worse look.

While we’re at it, often the result of a late night but far more enduring is the humble tattoo. If you’ve been so unfortunate as to have purchased a neck tattoo you might want to invest in some industrial concealer until you save your pennies for its painful removal. If it’s somewhere else on your person it’s going to be a bit easier.

Whereas tattoos are no longer as taboo as they once were, some corporate environments might look down upon them – which could prevent you from moving up the ladder. Each to their own and all, but your boss’s opinion might have a trickle down effect on your career progression.

However, for these situations the solution is a walk in the park. If you have ink on your back, torso or arms, simply wear a long-sleeved tee the same tone as your shirt. It may get a little stuffy, but if it’s going to cause problems for you in the office it’s best to save your sleeves for the weekend.

Any other smoke-and-mirror suggestions for meetings the morning after?