What It's Really Like to Go to Fashion Week: My View As a Total Outsider

“What am I about to get myself into?”

I was walking towards the Somerset House, about to enter the jungle known as London Fashion Week. Last spring, I was studying abroad across the pond and had to experience it firsthand. Fashion Week was something I’d seen in the movies before — who can forget the scene when Andy Sachs totally snatches Emily's dream away from her — but never something I actually thought I’d go to. As Fashion Week kicks back into full gear, let's learn what really goes down.

Dressed in a navy blazer, white sequin cami, and, to add a touch of risqué to my J. Crew style, a pair of purple floral skinny jeans that I picked up at H&M the week before. I probably didn’t win the “Best Dressed” superlative of London Fashion Week, but at least the pants were cool.

How was I feeling? Nervous? Excited? Underdressed? Before I could even get all my emotions together, I was handed a free bottle of coconut water. Damn, that’s chic.

The first thing I noticed was all the street style. A woman in a red fedora, gold pea coat and plaid pants posed for photographers before continuing across the pavement. Naturally, I stood next to them and snapped a photo of her with my iPhone. Obviously I looked like I belonged.

Want to know what else happens during Fashion Week? It’s definitely something every fashion obsessed person should add to their bucket list. However, be warned: It’s not all like the movies. Here’s what really happens:

Expectation: There Will Be Open Spaces At All The Shows, So You Can Walk Right Up To The Venue And Get Front Row Seats

Reality: You Won't Get Near The Door

Why do designers and publicists spend hours creating new outfits and showing them off on the catwalk? So the press will gush to their readers about how much they adore the newest Oscar de la Renta gowns or Calvin Klein knitwear. New York Fashion Week makes it clear that shows are exclusively for the press who can help influence their brand.

Once in a while, there’s a small chance that seats will be open at a show. And, trust me, these spots will be sought after like Rebecca Bloomwood fighting for a pair of shoes in Confessions of a Shopaholic. Even though I waited in line for two hours to maybe snag a spot at the Marios Schwab show, it didn’t happen.

My advice? Don’t go into Fashion Week expecting to see a show.

Expectation: You’ll Wear Ballet Flats… And Be SO Glad You Did. Comfy And Chic? Hell Yeah!

Reality: Pain. So Much Pain.

I remember standing on cobblestone for hours internally screaming. The problem with ballet flats? Even though they aren’t heels, they don’t offer any supporter between your feet and the ground.

So, now that your trusty flats won’t do, what shoes should you wear? Why, the Fashion Week street style trend invented to help solve this issue: sneakers, of course. Yeah, the type you wear to the gym or when you’re moving out of your apartment are the new street style trend. Woman wear them in between shows and slip on heels once they want to glam up. It seems totally weird, but it’s the best for when you’re standing for what seems like a million years. If you’re going to fashion week, try a pair. Trust me — it’s more chic (and COMFORTABLE) than it sounds.

Expectation: You’ll Run Into Anna Wintour And Chat It Up Like BFFs

Reality: You Might Casually See A Few Celebs... Maybe

Don’t get me wrong: Fashion Week is an amazing place to people watch. But the odds of rubbing elbows with the elite? Unlikely. Most celebrities are rushing in and out of shows, so your dream of mingling with Rachel Zoe or Kim Kardashian probably won’t come true.

That’s not to say you won’t see anyone slightly VIP. When people watching at London Fashion Week, I saw a crowd gather around a well-dressed man. I, of course, assumed it was just any other person at fashion week. It turns out, it was Proudlock from Made in Chelsea , which is basically the British version of The Hills. Hey, at least I can tell my grandkids that I saw someone.

Expectation: The Fashion World Is A Jungle, So Don’t Expect Anyone To Give You The Time Of Day

Reality: People Are Actually... Nice?

Want to know a secret? Turns out, tons of — well — normal people hang out around the venues at Fashion Week. They love fashion, want to people watch, and don’t act like Miranda Priestly.

Everyone people watches at Fashion Week for one reason or another and loves chatting about your background and why you’re there. While hanging out by the Somerset House, I got to meet bloggers, small business owners, and other women who work in the industry.

Expectation: Everyone There Will Be A Tall And Thin Model, Which Might Make You Feel Out Of Place

Reality: You Go, Girl!

Oh, street style. What would fashion week be without it? I know, I know — we all expect to be surrounded by women who could easily pull a Whitney Port and walk across the runway. To my surprise, everyone seemed so normal. Women of all shapes and sizes flocked the streets of the Somerset House.

Bottom line? No matter what your body type is, you CAN look fab a Fashion Week!

Expectation: It Will Be 75 Degrees And Sunny. Perfect Temperature For A Super Chic Day!

Reality: The Weather Will Never Be On Your Side. Ever.

It will rain. Or snow. And since it’s September, the odds of a 100 degree day are definitely in our favor. In typical London fashion (no pun intended,) there was quite a bit of rain when I went to Fashion Week. And, of course, rain and well put-together outfits don’t mix. Sigh.

If you do go to Fashion Week, be prepared for anything. Pack an umbrella, mini-fan, extra hairspray (trust me — it will be a lifesaver) and you’ll be good to go.

Expectation: One Of The Models Will Drop Out At The Last Minute, So You’ll Have A Total Whitney Port Moment And Get Whisked On Stage To Replace Her

Reality: Dream On

Even though Fashion Week can be crazy, overwhelming, and exhausting, I’m DYING to go back. Sadly, I’ll be watching this year’s madness from the sidelines. Until next time, Fashion Week. Until next time.

Images: Giphy (14)