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Another New York Fashion Week is upon us, and another year where I'm not randomly invited to the front row of esteemed fashion brands. Can you believe it! I sure can. And yet every year it hits me with an overwhelming sense of disappointment. What am I doing wrong? Why aren't I getting invited to shows? Why do I feel like another year is being spent on the sidelines (specifically from September 7 - 13), like I haven't done enough, like I'm not achieving what I'm supposed to be achieving?
My History with Designer Fashion
The simple answer is this: I am not a designer girlie. A little background is that I never owned many designer things, save a few Coach and one Kate Spade handbag. I grew up feeling disconnected from it because it was't something we spent money on, and now, even when I can afford it, I don't think I necessarily want it.
It's also literal, often-wearable art. It is so incredible to see art and fashion come together, and I'd go just for that. I took fashion history in college, I know there's more to all of it than just expensive clothes. I'd go to experience that alone, even if I wouldn't be sporting name brands from head-to-toe.
Do I spend more money on better-quality items now that I work full time and make my own real money? Absolutely: I went ham on the 260 Sample Sale x rag & bone sale. I'm not sure that on any planet, no matter how much money I make, I can justify a $550 cardigan, even if it's made of alpaca wool and will last me the rest of my life, can be passed on to my future children, and label me the coolest grandmother alive. But a $395 sweater vest with 10% alpaca wool that's reduced to $66? That I can get behind.
Working in Luxury Fashion
It's not like I don't have any fashion experience either. Sure it's limited, but probably my crowning fashion-career moment was working at NET-A-PORTER as a summer intern. I was writing the product descriptions for clothes that I could never afford, touching them, being around them five days a week, and loving every second of it. But somehow, I knew that I would never be That Girl.
I worked for a bridal magazine in college and went to Bridal Fashion Week, which was incredible. I worked retail at a luxury shoe store that sold rag & bone boots that I could only dream about. I was selling what, at the time, I thought I wanted; growing from my "thrifts & affordable fashion" roots to something more real, whatever that meant.
For me, I don't think my love of clothing and style comes from having the most trendy things or the latest designer pieces. It isn't even about collecting designer pieces. It's about finding pieces that sing to me when I look at them. It's about finding pieces that scream "this feels so you" before I even put them on. If they're designer, that's just a fun perk that makes me feel like a true fashion girlie, one step closer to who I'm "supposed" to be as someone who likes fashion.
The Hypocrisy of it All!
Like I said, if I happen to find a designer piece that's reduced that I love, I will geek out over it. It feels like the coolest thing. It feels like finding treasure. I have these incredible gold boots from Sam Edelman and an older woman with very cool earrings recently complimented them in NoMad and I felt like the coolest person alive. When she asked me where I got them, I didn't have to give her my usuals ("They're from Target" or "I thrifted them"). I could say, feigning nonchalance, "oh these? They're Sam Edelman." Sometimes I still think about that moment, because it made me feel like I fit in this weird NYC-fashion-girl realm. And as much as I don't think I do fit, part of me will always want to.
Why Fashion Week Makes Me Feel ... Weird
Every year, I look at my calendar and I see that New York Fashion Week is coming up. Usually at this time I sit wherever I happen to be at that moment and realize that I don't have anything planned, I haven't pitched myself to anyone, etc., etc., and it's creeping up on me. By the time I've gotten over the emotional hurdle and convinced myself to do something, it's usually 11:21pm three days into NYFW. Totally not speaking from experience here.
Expectations I Set For Myself to Have a Career in Fashion
What's the worst part is probably that I was convinced (and made a point of convincing everyone around me) that when I graduated college, I wanted to work in fashion. I've been doing this blog for five years in November, two of those years post-grad and guess what? Still no insane fashion career under my belt. When I think about what people must think of me (I do not recommend doing this ever because literally who cares, but it does come up, human nature and all) they must think I've settled. I've failed. I had such big dreams and I gave up on them. And I'm still here, posting my outfits every day. Doesn't that mean I've failed? Sometimes, I'll admit, it does feel like it.
Realistically, Why I'm Not Getting Those Invites
I'm not the demographic that NYFW show recruiters look to to send invites to their shows. I'm not constantly tagging designer and name-brands in my outfits, because I'm not wearing them. Maybe if I was wearing Chanel day in and day out, Chanel would hand-deliver me an invite. But I'm not. I'm not a poster child for any one brand because I truly like a lot of different things. And I like doing this because it's fun, because it's creative, and because I've met so many incredible people along the way. I'm not sure what the goal is anymore, aside from enjoying it. I think once I don't enjoy it anymore, I probably won't do it anymore.
I'm also not pitching myself very much. I don't work with a lot of brands, I don't do a lot of collaborations, which isn't to say there are millions of requests flooding my email inbox either. Part of it is that I'm not putting in the effort to make it happen, so it's not happening.
Unless I randomly get my five minutes of fame, no brands are going to be sending me Gucci, and that's okay. I'd probably pair it with thrifted boots and pants from TJ Maxx, and I don't know if they'd love that.
What Does it Mean to Be a NYC Fashion Girlie?
It's whatever I am. It's whatever my mutuals are. It's the people I follow for their outfits and the people who follow me for mine. It's whatever famous fashion TikTokkers are. It's definitely loudest in places that are exclusive, but that doesn't mean that's the only way you can be.
Fashion, at its core, throughout so much of history, has been about expression. Self-expression, outward-expression, social status, whatever it is, we're telling people something with what we're wearing. I think it's really cool to see how creative and expressive people are with their clothes, and I'm inspired by a lot of people who are unapologetically themselves.
That being said, there is still always going to be a trending idea of what's cool, and people will take turns filling that role. It will be something to strive towards, something presented as effortless and the epitome of who you should want to be, until the next thing takes its place.
Whether you're wearing all name-brand stuff or your clothes are thrifted, you're doing it. Especially if you live in NYC, as I do, and you love getting dressed every day, you're doing it. The other stuff doesn't matter as much, even if I don't always believe it myself. Go to NYFW or don't. It's artistry and it's incredible. But it's also about exclusivity and reaching the unreachable, ever-changing bar of what's "in."
This is, of course, no tea and absolutely no shade to NYFW. If I were to be invited to any show, I'd probably go. I think part of it is just coming to terms that I don't quite fit into the industry that way, and that's okay - I don't have to love fashion any less, or be any less of my version of an NYC fashion girlie. But I think I'm okay with sticking to whatever my version is and not forcing myself into a different mold just to feel like I fit.