I still remember my first fashion show. It was February of 2006, twelve years ago (!!!). I was 24 years old and about a month into my brand new job working for Procter & Gamble in New York: wide eyed and terrified and completely overwhelmed by the city. I was working as an Assistant Brand Manager on a portfolio of fragrance brands for P&G, one of them being Anna Sui. I just about screamed when my boss told me that we were going to her show. I tried to channel Anna Sui as best I could by wearing a black ditsy floral print dress ($20 at Forever21; it was a time where my salary was so low that putting an unnecessary $20 on my credit card meant rethinking what I bought at the grocery store that week) and black Anna Sui nail polish which I had stolen from the sample closet at work – it was right when black nail polish was becoming cool again. There was no time for a blowout or to get my hair done but that thought didn’t even cross my mind. At that point in my life I’d never even had a blowout and probably would have laughed at the frivolity of getting your hair styled without having had it cut or colored first.
Off we went. I would have been SO lost without my boss – it was one of the most intimidating things ever! The shows were held at the tents in Bryant Park back then, so we could walk over relatively quickly from our office at 3rd and 53rd. (I was wearing sensible heels as that is all I owned back then.) I still remember being shuffled in, taking my seat in the fourth row (my boss telling me how amazing it was that we had seats, gesturing over to the crowds of people in standing room). I remember sitting down and seeing the little perfume bottles on the chairs and beaming with pride as that was our product. And nothing compared to the feeling I got when the lights came on and the music started. The music! The models! Anna was famous for having all the big supermodels and putting on such a theatrical show. It didn’t disappoint, it was one of the most amazing things I’d ever experienced. I remember emailing my parents and friends back in Boston the next day. No one could believe I’d gone to an actual fashion week runway show!
Outfit Details: J.Crew Coat (similar here + here) // Ella Moon Dress (SO CUTE and only $99!) // Express Tights // Manolo Blahnik Pumps // BaubleBar Hoop Earrings // BaubleBar Necklace // Chanel Purse
Over the course of the next four years, I went to more shows – all for the fragrance brands I worked on.. Lacoste, Hugo Boss, Anna Sui, and so on and so forth. I eventually got to bring my own assistant and see the wonder in her eyes as the lights went on and the models marched down the runway. I never felt jaded or annoyed by fashion week; it was a huge privilege to attend.
In 2010 I started this blog. It would be a while before I was invited to a fashion show on my own, but I do remember my first one and I think it was maybe in 2012 or 2013 – Rebecca Minkoff. I was working at BaubleBar at the time and got permission to duck out and see the show. I remember that so vividly too. All of the bloggers were seated together in the far right corner of the room. The blogging industry was smaller back then – Instagram was just ramping up, and there were maybe 20-30 of us and we all knew each other. It was so much fun and it felt like a big sorority reunion seeing all of my favorite bloggers from across the country in one corner of the room. And there it was – that same magical feeling when the music went on and the models walked out. Rebecca Minkoff was particularly thrilling to me; as it was the first time I’d ever been to a show where if I saw something I really loved I could (most likely) buy it the next season.
Somewhere along the lines, after a few seasons, it stopped being fun for me. There are bloggers whose fashion week content I live for. They do it so well and you can tell they are genuinely excited to be there. Damsel in Dior comes to mind as I absolutely LOVE her content and find that her fashion week vlogs manage to be both aspirational and hilarious; making me feel like I am right there with her. I am not one of those bloggers. For me, I felt like fashion week was actually hurting my blog content as I felt like I was going through the motions to do what I thought I was supposed to do… running from show to show, feeling stressed out and insecure, being dressed (occasionally) by brands in clothes that rarely fit or flattered my body, and finding myself feeling really tired and run down from ALL THAT SCHMOOZING.
Embarrassing things would happen. Brands would reach out to dress me for a show, have me come into their showroom to select a piece to wear and nothing would fit. Literally, nothing. I am 5’8 and wear a size 6 the majority of the time. A small person by regular world standards; a large person in fashion standards. I don’t think the fashion world really knows what to do with us “in between” people… not a zero or two, but not plus sized. This happened constantly and always felt incredibly embarrassing (I’m thankful that things are starting to change and brands are becoming more inclusive – things are a LOT different today; for example one of my favorite brands recently dressed me for their presentation and they just asked me for my size and style preferences and sent over a dress. There was no awkward back and forth or the ever-embarrassing and slightly condescending, “Oh I’m so sorry, are you sure you can’t squeeze into a two? That’s the biggest we have but don’t worry… it’s a “big” two!” And then trying things on to oblige the person and inevitably almost ripping the garment.)
And then there was the comparison game I would play with the other bloggers. How did they all just look SO GOOD, all the time? (This is something I still wonder about, for the record. Fellow bloggers/fashion girls, teach me your ways: do you keep full bags of makeup and curling irons in your Gucci bags as you trot across town, looking effortless and amazing?) These tiny girls with their perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfectly coordinated accessories and outfit changes throughout the day… and on top of that they never look like they are trying… all effortless and cool. I’d look at them and then back at myself and just feel wretched. For the record: I just can’t do effortless. If I don’t try, I look like a slob, if I do try, I look like I tried. There is just no in-between!
Every season I would say to myself that it was the last one I would go to, that I wouldn’t do it to myself again. And every season I would put myself through it again.
People complain about fashion week; about the industry and about bloggers ruining things and making it a circus. And maybe some of that stuff is true but at the end of the day the problem was me. I was forcing myself to do something I just didn’t enjoy. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like hob-nobbing with strangers, I don’t even really like champagne! And I hate comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate, too fat, not stylish enough, or whatever feeling those events made me feel. (Note: I do not think I’m fat or unstylish; this is not a call for reassurance… I’m simply expressing how these events make me feel. Feelings are temporary. All in all, of course there’s stuff I’d change but I think I look pretty good and I like how I dress.)
So here’s the message for you. If something makes you feel bad, you shouldn’t do it. Plain and simple. And to do it (and complain about it!) is just totally crazy and stupid. The way I see it, there are so many younger bloggers who would die to go to a fashion show. Attending is a huge privilege, even if it’s a privilege I don’t particularly want. If I RSVP “no,” someone else gets to go (hoping that they will have that same amazing wide-eyed experience I had all of those years ago)!
I will always love fashion. I scour the trends on Pinterest and Vogue and Bazaar; I live for the street style photos, and like I mentioned before I love seeing other more fashion-y bloggers’ content. But fashion week isn’t really relevant to my blog. My own style is pretty basic and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I like my cozy sweaters and comfortable ankle boots and hope that when I do an outfit post maybe it inspires you to try something new or mix up things you already have, but calling myself a “fashion blogger” seems hilarious at this point in time. My mission here at The Stripe is for you to feel good about yourselves, and leave you feeling inspired to try something new. And when I write about things, I want them to be things that will bring you joy. Books, bath soaks, cozy sweaters, jeans that make your butt look amazing… stuff that will inspire you but never ever make you feel less than. Sure, fashion is definitely a part of this blog but it’s more about finding a new color or fun accessory that will help you feel more put together. I’m absolutely not a “cool girl,” and I think that’s why you come here – to read the musings and ramblings of a regular person/human guinea pig who just really likes all this stuff. If going to fashion week helped make my blog better, I’d suck it up and go, in the name of work and doing a better job, but over time I have realized that there is little value that attending shows brings to my blog or social channels… and unless that changes, I don’t plan on changing my stance!
This year I went to one thing, for a favorite brand that I mentioned above. I went in, and said hello to my PR contacts, I took photos for Instagram and had a seltzer… and then after twenty minutes or so I wandered over to Soho House to drink wine, eat meatballs, and laugh with one of my best guy friends who complimented my (basic, inappropriate for fashion week but perfect for real life) outfit. My kind of night. 😉
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! PS – My dress is under $100 and my favorite BaubleBar earrings (everyone thinks they are vintage) just got marked down to only $22!
photography by Trent Bailey.
This blog post was super refreshing, Grace! Thank you so much for being honest, and I 100% support you. Do what you love! 🙂
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Thank you Charmaine! xo
Thank you so much for always being honest and true to yourself. I really appreciate this commentary and the idea that we don’t have to go through the motions in situations that don’t align with our personal goals.
Thanks Em! Hope you had a great weekend. 🙂
Bahaha! I feel the same way! I still go to Kate Spade… but only because I always love it!
Haha! I would have gone to KS (and then have gone to two events) but ended up visiting Hunt Slonem’s studio that day so I had to skip it! The clothes looked beautiful!
And this is why us regulars come back day after day 🙂
Awwww thank you so much Casey! xoxo
Love this post, Grace!
Thanks Jenn! xoxo
You look stunning in this ensemble! Absolutely love it
Thanks so much Lindsay!
I loved this post, Grace! It was very refreshing to read about your feelings about fashion week–I love watching from a distance, but don’t think I could go in person! I like my cozy sweaters too 😉 Thanks for recommending some other fashion week coverage–I look forward to checking out Damsel in Dior’s vlogs!
Aw good – you’ll love her!
Fashion week in my city is a bit different than in New York and when I was a fashion student I absolutely loved going because it inspired me so much but now I don’t think I enjoy it as much. I have to wait for hours for a show that lasts a couple minutes and sometimes there weren’t enough seats for everyone so I would end up standing even if I had a seated ticket, not to mention, recently, they started doing the shows in different places like other fashion weeks which is horrible because last season I missed one of the shows because my Uber app wasn’t working. And the posts about it on my blog didn’t even get that many views, nobody really cared. I’m contemplating if I should go this season or not because I do like hanging out with my friends and the shows inspire me not only with my style but also on my life goals as the businesswoman I hope to be one day. But I might do it like you did and skip it. It’s a lot of work and it’s not worth it.
It is a lot of work! I’m not bashing attending – you just have to do what’s right for you!
This post is so good. And even though fashion week is totally outside my realm, I love the theme of realizing when you’re doing something because you think you *should* – even if you don’t enjoy it! I kept trying to apply for speaking opportunities for different conferences and such, only to panic and bail later, until I realized that… I didn’t actually want to do it in the first place! Lol. I just thought I *should* try to be a part of that scene. But it was such a waste of my (and everyone else’s time) to pretend like I did, when I knew deep down, I didn’t care to prioritize it that much. Kudos to you being you <3
Oh my gosh I am with you there! I keep doing the same thing re: public speaking – yet I HATE IT! Though I do think there is a benefit of doing it… it has really helped me to get better at something I usually fear/avoid.
Love this post, the way you have changed over 12 years, what matters to you, I love your words about making people feel good and try new things, you are right on!
Aw thanks mom – love you! xo
Amen to this, Grace! I always found myself comparing my fashion week (as a full time 9-to-5er) to those who either took off for fashion week or blogged full time. On a not personal note, I just started hating the rep fashion week was getting (and it seemed like it was because of bloggers). It’s been nice to take a step back and just focus on my job and my blog, and not really give a damn about fashion week. As much as I love fashion, the shows, the trends, and the art direction behind shows, it’s just not for me. Thanks for writing this post, I really loved hearing your thoughts!
The Champagne Edit
When I had a full time job I always did that. Funny thing was, once I left my day job and started going to all the things, I found myself wishing I was at my desk!!!
Thanks for always keeping it real! That’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog and following you, because you are 100% authentic in all you do and share. I much prefer posts about products that I can actually afford with my normal salary vs content from fashion shows or brands that are completely unrealistic for everyday people to afford. So far you haven’t led me astray with beauty and hair products and I look forward to seeing more of your recommendations!
I’m so happy to hear this! Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth!
This was suck a great, honest, refreshing post. We all fall into that trap of putting ourselves in places we think we should be, but don’t enjoy.
So happy you enjoyed it. Thanks, Lauren!
Love this post and totally relate which is why I haven’t been to fashion week in ages! MISS YOU FRIEND! XOXOXO 😉
And I miss YOU!!! We are overdue for a catch-up sesh! xx
I’m living for the honesty in this post! Love when bloggers peel behind the curtain and dish the real tea – thanks for sharing this. 🙂
So glad to hear that! xo
Love this and love YOU!
aw thanks teddi! xo
Loved this post. I hope to go to fashion week one day and be one of those wide eyed girls starring at the runway in awe. This was very enlightening to read about how you don’t need fashion week for your blog. Any women would die to go to these shows, but when you did get invited, you turned it down so someone else could go. That’s amazing and i give you a million props for doing that
Thank you 🙂 xoxo
As someone who has never been and probably will never attend fashion week in NYC, I found this post to the so refreshing! Like you, I have never mastered the art of being one of the “cool girls” (although I think you do a pretty good job of it) and that is just fine by me. I much prefer your original content here!
I’m soooo glad to hear that!!! Thank you Sara. xo
Favorite post ever. Thanks for the honesty.
Thank you!!!! Happy you enjoyed it.
This made me love your blog even more. I try to follow that approach too in life and sometimes its hard when people want and expect you to do things. Thank you for being real!
This is why we still read your blog. xo
Thank you so so much Jess!!! xx
This is why I LOVE your blog. There are so many bloggers out there that feel obligated to go to NYFW and it makes their content feel so fake even thought they’re amazing bloggers. Thanks for being real!!!
Aw thank you so much, Samantha! Really appreciate the kind words. xx
And this is why you are one of the best! I’m nowhere near the fashion world, but I think it’s so important to remember that it’s okay to say no to things, experiences, and even people that make you feel less than you are. Thank you so much for this reminder! And keep being you–your authenticity and realness is why we all keep coming back.
Hi Grace, I loved this post, and I completely agree. I actually don’t really like when my favorite bloggers content gets interrupted by fashion week stuff!!!! I end up seeing the same things over and over again and I’d much prefer seeing your own great personal style and day to day life stuff :)! This is why you are one of my “cannot miss a day must read” bloggers!!
That’s so good to hear – thanks for weighing in!!!
OMG yes! Thank you for this post. I’ve only been to a handful of Fashion Week events, and while part of me would like to go to more, I’m also okay not going. We’ve talked about being introverts before, so you know I totally understand from that perspective…the schmoozing is very overwhelming. Unfortunately, I also feel like there’s a lot of the content that bloggers put out from Fashion Week is just not the most genuine and there is a lot of competition going on. Needless to say, there’s definitely nothing wrong with having done it and being done with that phase in your life. Kudos to you for being self-aware enough to realize it.
Thank you so much for commenting, Sam!!! It can be very overwhelming! xx
Thank you for this! I often feel as if many bloggers are becoming too much these days. I find myself getting excited when they link to a beautiful piece of clothing. As I click on that link, I pray that it is affordable. I’m often discouraged and kind of mad when that article of clothing is $700!!!! What??? What average consumer can afford a $700 sweater? Then I no longer find these stylish women relatable. So once again, thank you for being real and not falling into the typical blogger style that most of us can not afford or even justify the price!
Aw that’s totally understandable. I’m guilty of having posted things that are a little out of touch in the past but as I’ve gotten older and spend my money in different ways (things for my apartment, saving to eventually buy property) things have shifted and I can’t spend like that anymore! So happy to hear you still find my site relevant, etc. as that is really important to me!
Love this post, Grace!
I hear you! I love your posts just as they are, don’t change.
Thank you so much!!!
you are such a breath of fresh air! thank you!
aw thanks Veronica! xo
“And when I write about things, I want them to be things that will bring you joy. Books, bath soaks, cozy sweaters, jeans that make your butt look amazing… stuff that will inspire you but never ever make you feel less than.”
YES! This is why I still read your blog, even at a point where I’ve kind of forgotten about most blogs and would rather just watch Instagram Stories! These days I’m so turned off by aspirational type bloggers who have the most perfectly curated blogs/Instagram feeds/photos without a hair out of place. They just make you feel so mediocre in comparison, and it can be so unhealthy!
Like many other bloggers, you’re gorgeous, but the important thing for me is that you’re also so relatable! I love that you’re not afraid to be vulnerable and you’re brave enough to share things with thousands of readers/strangers that might not make you look so perfect! xx
Aw thank you Ava!!! Such a nice comment. xo
Thank you for sharing this! As a blogger (I am pretty much the world’s worst blogger), I stop myself from posting things that I love or enjoy, only because I know the pictures won’t be as finished or pretty as others’ are…or my content isn’t as snazzy. It creates all this self-doubt in me and I just freeze and then don’t write…or I write, but I don’t publish. So reading your post is a welcome breathe of fresh air…thank you!!!!
You should always share the things you love and enjoy – that’s what makes blogs so wonderful!!!
I loved reading this piece !
Very insightful and makes you reconsider the entire thing-
Of course I’ve dreamed of attending NYFW however there is always that “will i be good enough…” question. I did my fare share of local FW shows and even though it will never be compared to NY, i can totally relate.
So glad to hear that! x
Great post and perfect advice for everyone who finds themselves doing something because they feel that they have to, rather then because they want to.
I totally get it, but, I’d still be the wide-eyed girl full of excitement! Hopeing one day your “no” gets me an invite 🙂