As if it wasn’t hard enough to just look stylish and not semi-poor at [insert place of work], today you have to attend an event after the usual 10-6 shift. Exciting? Sure. But now you have to dress up without looking out of place in the office. This means heels. But you can’t wear them all day and you don’t want to lug them around in a big purse at said event and look like a bag lady, rather than one of the stylites who belong there (i.e. were invited and aren’t just taking the place of a boss). Shit. Time to utilize that “high/low dressing”… only it’s a little different when your low is $2 faux pearls from Salvation Army and your high means something not purchased from a sale rack at Urban Outfitters. You settle for your roommates cool yet surprisingly comfy wedges and jazz up a dress with all necklaces you own and your mother’s vintage Gucci belt, the only nice designer thing actually in your possession and which bestows, with it’s tiny one-silver-one-gold interlocking G’s, a semblance of subtle monied style.
You’re late now because you didn’t pick out the outfit last night as per usual, and try to fend off sweat on the rush to the subway (cure: perfume in the office closet). Late means no pre-packed lunch. Time for a choice: The mega coffee you sorely need or a small one so you can use the difference on an apple and granola bar (good thing your office has free Diet Coke)? There better be food tonight, or you will definitely get drunk too fast from champagne on an empty stomach.
Work is long with anticipation. Finally, you’re going to be at Last’s Night’s Party. On the walk to the restaurant (can’t subway–don’t want to waste a swipe) you slick on deep red lipstick and wonder if that’s enough to get you on a society page, perhaps in muffled laughter with an It Girl who you’ll miraculously bond with over… something? Wait, quick, think of talking points. Barneys/Bendel’s/Bergdorf’s are out, as is brunch at Balthazar. You could probably fake your way through a discussion of the Standard’s beer garden, but it’s doubtful. Just remember to never use the word “intern”–you’re a “staff contributor.”
You give your boss’ name at the door and adjust yourself in the foyer, trying to pretend like you aren’t nervous (do you look as naïve as you feel?). Champagne? Yes PLEASE, thank you. Migrating to a corner, you observe how much more expensive everyone’s clothes are than yours and hope none of them shop at H&M and recognize your dress. You wish you had a plus one so you could discuss those really amazing turquoise heels on Girl-At-The-Bar. You recognize a PS1 bag, and know it’s definitely real. There’s a speech–the event is for This x That collaboration–but you tune out after Designer XYZ gushes about the excitement of bringing his/her work to more people through this “more affordable” line–the cheapest item is a scarf, and it costs about the same as your electricity bill. The most expensive item is lauded for not surpassing the price of your monthly rent. You decide to people-watch instead, peering out from your corner. This is difficult; any of these people could be a prominent editor whose face you just don’t know but could definitely either make or ruin your career. You recognize a few minor models, try not to stare at the super famous DJ and… wait, whoa… That’s definitely [insert model/editor/celebrity idol], who you are totally obsessed with and may or may not have Internet stalked before. Do you introduce yourself? No, too weird: “I’m such a fan!!!” Might as well kill yourself now and save the humiliation. He/She goes to the bar–you gulp your flute and go for another to strategically make yourself available for conversation. “What’s that? Oh the belt! Thanks, it’s vintage.” They ask “who you’re with.” You drop the name (realization: this is what business cards are for. Mental note to get those free ones made online) and they say your name is familiar–your work is fantastic! You know that they are mistaken but decide correction is not necessary; tugging at the corners of your mouth, you try to hide how hard you are beaming and demurely thank them. There are sunbeams dancing in your soul. You are melting inside. This is the best night EVER.
People start to trickle out. You’re a little buzzed (ok, more than a little) and decide that was a pivotal moment of your life. You step out into the Soho night air, almost bouncing on the combined high of the bubbly, the extreme happiness and the extra few inches your shoes provide. The excitement is too much to just be bottled up on the long subway ride home; there’s a well-known bar frequented by fashion personnel a few blocks away so you sneak in under the guise of “meeting someone” and ease onto a bar stool before realizing a cocktail is $14 you totally can’t afford. Oops. You quietly slip out and instead walk to your favorite dive bar a few blocks away, collapsing into a graffitied wooden booth with a generic beer in a plastic cup and envisioning a red-soled heel on your jauntily crossed leg, wondering just how your life got so cool.