Five Reasons You Can Enjoy Fashion Week Even If You Can’t Afford a $3,000 Belt

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Go for the inspiration and hordes of pretty people. Stay for the free drinks.

1. There’s free booze and pretty people! 

Fashion's Night Out is Vogue Editor Anna Wintour’s charity event, benefitting AIDS research, that’s kicked off fashion week for the past three years. It’s like Halloween for skinny grown-ups: most stores stay open late, and everyone gets dressed up and walks door-to door. And, obviously, instead of candy, there’s wine and snacks.

It’s fun, and a nice excuse to drink free booze and look at pretty clothes you’d never buy. Just be careful that you don’t get too drunk and wake up in a sea of Louboutin bags and credit-card slips.


2. You need an excuse to wear that three-quarter-length mauve kimono 

Did you impulsively purchase a semi-outrageous garment? Have been agonizing over whether it’s too zany to wear? Take a look at the fashion-week attendees, resplendent in latex bubble skirts, samurai-inspired blazers, and black-crepe hats. You definitely do not look crazier than they do, and you can actually learn from them. 

Some people say that you can pull off anything if you believe in yourself. That’s horseshit, but a combination of confidence and self-delusion remains your best chance at fashion success.


3. Even if you know nothing about fashion, you can learn from the silhouettes 

After Fashion’s Night Out, the runway shows begin. Luckily, for those of us who don’t have passes, most shows are streamed online. Obviously, you’ll see some pretty weird stuff — crazy fabrics and designs — but you should pay attention to one thing: silhouettes.

A lot of “trend analysis” that comes out of FW has to do with skirt length, slit height, sleeve styles, and the cut of pants. If you figure out which silhouettes are in style, and which ones you like, you can mimic that with reasonable, cape-less clothing you buy later. Or if like me, you hoard your old clothing in your childhood bedroom at your parents’ house, you have ten years worth of styles to pull from.


4. You might just end up dressing a little weirder.

There’s nothing exactly wrong with ZARA, H&M, and Forever 21 — they’re a great source of cheap basics. But, at a certain point, these mass-produced garments start to overwhelm everyone’s style, and we all begin to look the same. Comme Des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo put it this way: “I don't feel too excited about fashion today. People just want cheap fast clothes and are happy to look like everyone else.” Fashion Week is a time for designers to put their most conceptual, envelope-pushing garments out there — the big, bizarre looks you’d never find at your local H&M.

A common complaint about haute couture is that it’s not practical — where would I wear a burnt-orange silk-taffeta mermaid dress with a six-inch collar and a five-foot train? Probably nowhere, unless you attend the Met Ball, but it’s easy to get inspired by the concepts behind these seemingly impractical garments. Maybe the next time you see a jacket with a structured, high collar you’ll feel inspired to figure out how to wear it, in a way that makes sense for you. By doing so, you’ll be working towards a world with a little less American Apparel. And that’s only a good thing.


5. It doesn’t make you a vapid, materialistic ass.

It bores me to hear people harping on fashion. There are plenty of insults regularly directed at the fashion industry: it’s shallow, it’s vapid, it’s superfluous. And, to a point, these insults are right; the fashion industry certainly isn’t saving lives. But neither is the music industry or the TV industry, and that doesn’t make them inconsequential. 

Fashion is a form of entertainment, art, and self-expression that’s accessible to anyone who cares about it. You’re free to decide that fashion isn’t for you just like I’m free to decide television isn’t for me; they’ve both just different forms of entertainment. And I much prefer the theater of a well-directed runway show with creative, inspired garments to a network sitcom.