Date: Monday, September 11th
From: Belle Style Support
To: Fashion Week Immigrant
Subject: “7th on Sixth” Fashion Orientation
Welcome, Fashionista, to the seven-day orgy of the sublime, superficial, sexy and cerebral that is New York’s Olympus Fashion Week! Whether you hail from a fly-over state or the heart of St. Germain, you’ve purged like a pro, procured your passes, packed your bags—God willing, Louis’ and Goyards—and somehow made your way to New York City, the style capital of the world (give or take a few cities). The extravaganza has begun—do you know what you’re wearing?
Consider “The Tents” your sartorial home base. Inside this chic oasis, the rules are simple: no white triangles, tushes or toying with straps. Unless you’re Beyonce, Christina or Delphine (bien sur, Bernard Arnault’s daughter can dress as she pleases), you’re going for understated elegance. Case in point, slacks over skirts. If you’re lucky enough to get anywhere near the front row, you don’t need paparazzi shots of your nether regions cloaked in white lace La Perla popping up on the pages of “Vogue.” Trust us—it’s happened before. Save yourself the embarrassment and cloak your comparatively elephantine lower appendages in light gabardine or silk trousers. Lagerfeld and Malandrino (Club Monaco and H&M if you’re poor) are making lovely ones this season.
Every so often, though, you may have cause to venture outside the cozy protective bubble of Bryant Park, whether for a shopping expedition or a night on the town. By all means, go for it! New York is a vibrant, colorful and most of all fashionable city, and your own aura of unshakable confidence is your most important accessory. But a word to the wise: stylistic landmines litter the terrain.
Do not be alarmed. Below, you’ll find reputation-saving hints on how to make your way—or fake your way—through five of the most fashion-conscious corners of the city. You can thank me later.
The key to the Midtown wasteland of track-suited tourists and comatose office workers is staying on your fashion game. Although you’ll be tempted to shed your stilettos and Hermes Birkin 40cm for a fanny pack and Ohio State sweatshirt, stay strong and style-savvy. Channel “Bright Lights, Big City” not fluorescent marquees and fighting cabbies. Remember, you’re coming from the greatest show on earth—they’re just going to see the “Lion King.”
Nothing says sophisticated Midtown comfort like cashmere. Layer a Brunello Cucinelli camel-colored cardigan or black shawl over your wisp-of-a-blouse for the cool restaurants and showrooms. Your Malandrino slacks will love you for it! Keep things sensible with large, practical accessories like the aforementioned Hermes or the Prada “boat and tote”-style bag. Your glamorous (and under-eye-concealing) Oliver J. Peoples sunglasses and Barney’s makeup stash will fit inside as will your Blackberry, Mont Blanc pen and notepad and JP Tod loafers (a quick change from your Manolos; perfect for cross-town walking).
Finally, fashionistas, I beg you to think larger proportions and pared down maquillage. Save the sexy attire for south of 14th Street. This means no tight pencil skirts, open-toed shoes, overly fitted blazers or extreme makeup allowed! You’ll look like Anna Nicole Smith pre-Trim Spa (swollen ankles, puffy face), post awards show (black eyes, smudged lips).
You’re in the center of it all and somehow lost. SoHo is the geographic heart of the downtown scene yet still a little removed from the pulsing lifeblood of the city’s youngest and most hip. What is expected of you? Something between Meg Ryan pre- plastic surgery and Sofia Coppola post “Lost in Translation.” Spice up your staple trousers with a jewel-toned “Dear” silk top (from Thompson Street’s “Legacy”), a fun Parisian topper from “The Hat Shop,” “Me & Ro” gold and diamond bangles, a pony-skin Chanel bag.
Whatever you do, put away the Midtown Manolos. The cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking District and neighboring Chelsea have ruined more expensive footwear than Lapo Elkann (Fiat heir, womanizer, cross dresser). Now is the time for Chanel ballet flats or, if you’re really desperate, dispensable “9 West” 2-inchers. Sneak into the bathroom of Pastis and slip into a Catherine Malandrino cocktail-length dress. Exchange the bangles for some serious vintage “Renee Lewis” diamonds and put on your best, devil-may-care Ellen Barkin smile.
Lower East Side:
If you can borrow a mutt puppy for the afternoon, you’re golden. But if cleaning up Puggle poo is not your idea of a glamorous afternoon, consider shedding the pricey jewels, donning plastic accessories (earrings, belt buckles, jelly shoes) and pulling out the pair of leggings that you wore in 8th grade. You’re angling for the sweet, depressed look of Zooey Deschanel and the hopeless aura of one of Moby’s girlfriends. Understood?
Upper East Side:
We’re back north of 14th Street and trying to go into permanent debt via our college-issued credit cards. Thank God VISA just raised your credit limit. If you have gym-toned or lipo-sucked upper arms, by all means show them off with a “TSE” silk knit sleeveless top. Your cashmere is always welcome in the bistros and gem stores of Madison but why not have a little fun with a “Ralph Lauren” Black Label cropped, linen canvas jacket? Rent a driver for the afternoon (what’s an extra $150 at this point?) and make sure he follows you at a respectable distance. Affect a look of annoyance and disdain—channel Nan Kempner 1969.
You’re over the river but by no means in the fashion woods. In Brooklyn, you can let down your Fekkai-highlighted hair (that hopefully hasn’t been washed in a day or three—greasy is good ) and have some philosophical fashion fun. Slip into a faded, distressed tee (Pac Man, Poison) that reflects your once-upon-a-time, cushy suburban upbringing or don a cotton, tissue-thin American Apparel tunic dress. Just put away the brands! Williamsburg attire represents ideas, not cash flow.
**A Q&A session will be held on the rooftop of the SoHo House this evening at 11pm. Please join us if you have any lingering questions about appropriate Fashion Week attire or etiquette (i.e. Should mini Veuves be consumed with a straw? Open-air drug use? Is it okay to corner Karl at the after-party and kiss his papal ring?