“How long have you been into fashion?” the woman with the microphone asked me.
Honestly? About two hours.
She was right to assume I was a Fashion Week regular—with all the posing I was doing in front of the cameras—but little did she know I was something of an impostor, a freelance writer who doesn’t cover fashion asked by StyleCaster to do my best street style impression during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
I’d just had a flash makeover from the team. They’d styled my outfit, made me up, and tousled my hair. I’d say effortlessly cool was the look we were going for, but full disclosure: it took a lot of effort.
See, I probably wear leggings about 70 percent of the time (being six months post-partum with my second child is partly to blame; the fact that I work almost entirely from home also has something to do with it). But on the first day of Fashion Week I traded those well-worn leggings in for a BCBG fringe faux-leather skirt (that I’m now trying very hard NOT to buy), a Schott Brothers leather motorcycle jacket and a Whistles faux-fur pink coat—draped over my shoulders, obviously.
My purposely messy hair was topped with an oversized wool beanie, and my makeup was simple, with a bright lip.
But the piece de la resistance — and the thing I was photographed for and asked most about — was my my brightly colored chevron shoulder bag. Price tag: Around $2,250 (“It’s Valentino,” I told a photographer nonchalantly, for probably the last time ever.)
This accessory was a rather large upgrade, considering I’d arrived at the StyleCaster offices carrying the tote that came free with the purchase of my breast pump.
When I was all done up I took a selfie (it seemed only fitting) and sent it to my husband. “Where do you think you’re going dressed like that?,” he responded. I took that as a compliment.
Here’s what I learned from my day as a street style star:
You feel hot.
This may be super obvious to everyone who doesn’t have young children/get very little sleep/work from home/own way too many pairs of leggings—and probably anyone reading this site—but the more time and effort you put into your looks, the more confident you feel. I got out of the cab and kind of strutted my stuff right away. The papparazi helped. Some were professionals, with their high-end SLR cameras, others were amateurs, armed only with IPhones just hoping to capture a moment in the life of a real and true street style “star” (poor things!).
You walk a lot.
Some stylish people can’t help but get photographed as they rush into Fashion Week in a fabulous outfit. Others—often equally stylish—walk back and forth in front of Lincoln Center hoping someone will photograph them. I was the latter.
You need to perfect your pose.
I did not. I know in theory I’m supposed to tilt my head down to avoid the dreaded double chin, but I’m still not quite sure how to do that without looking like an idiot. In most cases, I followed the leads of the others—crossing one foot in front of the other, resting my arm on my hip, and looking serious. In some photos I was going for whimsical, in others pensive. Most often I was just winging it and trying not to look like Zoolander.
“Fame” is intoxicating.
I can see where reality TV stars get addicted to the fleeting limelight/attention. It feels good when people make a commotion over you. But like every reality TV star on earth, I soon learned that I could easily be replaced by someone thinner, more photogenic and more fashionable. It took about 10 minutes to start feeling insecure. Was I not good enough? Could they not see my Valentino bag from that angle? Did her purse cost more? Is that woman surrounded by cameras really wearing a silver sparkly helmet? (She was.)
There’s always someone who looks better.
The thing about doing street style at Fashion Week—and really living in New York City in general—is that just when you think you’re killing it and looking your very best, someone else hits it out of the park and makes you feel like Quasimido. Or someone bests you with a silver sparkly helmet. That happens too.
You want to run into someone you know.
I really wanted to run into someone I knew—maybe a high school or college acquaintance, an old co-worker perhaps. “This old thing?” I’d say, decked out in an outfit that cost way more than their monthly rent. Alas, no luck.
You’ll guard your most expensive item with your life.
I held onto that purse like a badge of honor during the shows. I carried it the way people carry their Oscars or Emmys—like a point of pride. At one point I caught myself holding it the same way I held my newborn son.
You can’t eat much.
As the day progressed, I was getting hungrier and hungrier, and seriously considered buying a sandwich at the cafe set up inside the tents. Then I grabbed a bottle of gratis water and spilled half of it down my shirt. I couldn’t take this risk with mayonnaise. Also, how could I smush a sandwich into a over $2,000 (borrowed) purse? Let’s be honest: When you carry a Valentino purse, it makes the rules. And if it says you’re not having lunch, you’re not having lunch.
Shop This Story: Valentino Va Va Voom chevron striped bag ($2,245; for more information visit Valentino); Whistles Kumiko short faux fur coat ($520; available at Bloomingdale’s); BCBGMaxAzria Rashell fringe skirt ($298; available at Bloomingdale’s); Uniqlo HeatTech turtleneck t-shirt ($14.90; available at Uniqlo); Vince Camuto Vamelia heels ($139; available at Vince Camuto); Schott Brothers Perfecto lambskin leather jacket ($650; available at Schott).
Photos: Tiffany Hagler-Geard