New York Fashion Week is like Comic-Con for people who actually know what they’re doing. The editors, bloggers, buyers, designers, stylists, and models that populate the areas around Lincoln Center are all on the top of their game, and then there’s me in the middle of it all with roughly 12% of an idea of what’s going on and a whole lot of work to do.
I’m legendarily awkward. It’s not even a joke anymore. I am easily cowed by authority, I say the wrong thing always, I get nervous at events where I don’t know anyone, and I invariably cope with social discomfort by bailing early and going home where it’s quiet, so how did I manage to have an AMAZING two days at New York Fashion Week?
I faked it until I made it. Seriously. I pretended so hard I almost popped a blood vessel. And at the end of my two days at fashion week, after being photographed by and featured by Marie Claire, ELLE, Latina, La Vida and Fashionela for street style, after rubbing elbows with Andre Saraiva at Berluti and sitting across from Mickey Boardman at the Nicole Miller show, I realized that I had not worked through but with my awkwardness to keep my anxiety at a minimum and have a productively wonderful time. [Photo via]
Here’s how I did it, and how it can help all the rest of you awkward flamingos out there:
The Awkward Person’s Guide to New York Fashion Week:
1. It’s very important to be comfortable. Whatever you can do to stay comfortable before you go into a stressful situation, DO IT. For me, I like to feel pretty so I woke up early to fit in a supercharged beauty routine. I did my makeup the way I like it, got my hair game on point, and wore an outfit that I felt was flattering. I did all of this so I wouldn’t feel self-conscious about my appearance, which is a big source of anxiety for me. It made it easier to focus on the task at hand.
I also wore a cashmere sweater because oh my god, it’s so warm and it’s like wearing a hug. And I…well, I like warm hugs! Because I took the extra effort, I exuded the kind of confidence that I can only dream of in my most awkward moments. I’ve never been street style snapped before in my life but on that first day I had so many people asking to take my picture that I was concerned they had confused me with somebody actually famous. I normally dislike having my picture taken (I’m very self-conscious, okay? It’s a thing.), but I felt fine when Bek Andersen took my picture for Marie Claire and Chantal Adair took mine for Elle! [Photo via]
2. Remember that everyone is just trying to do their job and so are you. I was at fashion week for a reason: I was covering shows and events for my editors at Guest of a Guest. Keeping that purpose in mind as I walked around helped me ward off my “oh god I don’t belong here” panic response. People who gave me a hard time or challenged me, like the gatekeepers who messed up my ticket or the guards who didn’t believe I had a seat, were also only doing their jobs. It wasn’t a personal thing based on how out-of-place I looked or because they didn’t like my face (right?!).
When you have this mindset, it’s easy to be nice and reason with people. Remember what your goal is and see how it dovetails with other people’s goals. Most people are very reasonable and it makes no sense to be more difficult then you absolutely have to be. We’re weird, not mean. Everyone can usually tell the difference.
3. Plan ahead. Be organized. Have your schedule down so you avoid any awkward fumbling with names or addresses that can make you feel weird and stress you out. This also has the side effect of making you feel large and in charge, like you have a personal assistant taking care of your stuff but really it’s just me and Siri having a little chit-chat in the corner near the Caboodles booth.
4. There is always something to talk about. I’m the kind of person who freezes up when put on the spot but I learned this week that conversation topics can come from anywhere. For as long as we have been alive we have been doing things, and that means we have something to talk about.
Case and point: the Lee Jean Youn show started late and I was feeling awkward (big surprise) about spending the next 25 minutes sitting on a bench with nothing to do but waste my precious cell phone battery charge. The lady next to me struck up a conversation and we ended up going on about Florence (the city), Fordham (the college), and what it feels like to be impersonating more important people at fashion week. So thanks, Sarah. You’re a real sweetheart and it was nice to meet you.
5. When all else fails, follow instructions. Nonconformity and spontaneity have their place, but for awkward people it’s hard enough to stick to the status quo. Be where you’re supposed to be on time, leave when it’s time to go, and don’t try anything too fancy with your timetable.
That said, plenty can happen when you’re sticking to your schedule. I was going from a show at Lincoln Center to a presentation at The Hub at the Hudson Hotel when a very nice man named Cameron came up to me and asked if I wanted to be on TV. Because I had planned ahead, I had enough time to be briefly interviewed for a segment on Kelly Cutrone’s upcoming talk show and have a nice chat with the producers. So yeah, look for a girl in a green coat and a black beret on Kelly’s show when it airs. Fame and fortch, here I come?
6. Say yes to stuff. This goes against my last point but I am large and I contain multitudes so the occasional contradiction is to be excused. Awkwardness and boredom go hand in hand, and keeping yourself entertained so you don’t default to feeling weird about your arms or something is key to staying cool. Say yes to conversations, demonstrations, free drinks, photographers- the more stuff you do the less time you have to be awkward. I said yes to a last-minute party invite to the launch of Berluti on Madison Avenue even though I really wanted to stay home and be boring…
…and ended up having a hell of a night talking American Idol with Nile and Lawrence, two absolute gems of mankind who work for Bergdorf Goodman, saying hi to Mia Moretti (who I did not recognize at first and who was really nice and had a gorgeous headpiece on and was just outrageously beautiful), going to No. 8 to hang out with man-about-town Jason Wagg, following his crew to Gilded Lily for champagne, and dancing all sexy-like at the Ardency Inn “Americana” launch at Electric Room. All because I said yes to a party that I didn’t want to go to. I had no time to be a social nutcase because I was having fun. Fancy that!
Through all of this I was still pretty awkward. One time I asked a very handsome man at Berluti if he was wearing a shirt under his shirt. Turns out he was wearing an ascot and I’m an idiot, but it was okay because he thought it was funny. So you see, fellow flamingos, awkwardness doesn’t always have to mean we have to stay socially isolated and chained to our Netflix and Ritz cracker sandwiches (although that sounds really good right now). Sometimes it can be charming or funny or affable, and we’ll never know which it’s going to be unless we get our shit together and try to get out there.
Until next time,