DRESS: (c/o) Storets/HEELS: more options here/SUNNIES: Ray-ban

When most people think of New York Fashion Week, they envision models strutting down the runway in some of the most glamorous creations by household names like Tory Burch, Alexander Wang and Ralph Lauren. They think of Gigi, Kendall, Hailey and now… Kaia. They imagine Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sitting front row with her infamous sunglasses on. They see swarms of photographers. They see fashion girls and think they are only concerned with brands, status and trends. They see glamour. They see fun. They see opulence. They think, “what a dream…”

DRESS: (c/o) Storets/HEELS: Zara – more options here

But those who call Fashion Week work will tell you otherwise. It’s chaotic, crazy, intimidating at times, exhausting, exciting, invigorating… a downright adrenaline rush.

BLOUSE: (c/o) INC International Concepts/CROP TOP: (c/o) Moda Zeta/SKIRT: J.Crew/SLINGBACKS: Zara, more options here/EARRINGS: (c/o) Mercedes Salazar

Let me explain.

Three years ago, I attended my first Fashion Week. At the time, I was assisting a stylist who graciously handed over her invites so I could attend on her behalf. I packed my bags, left for NYC, crashed at my friend’s place in Spanish Harlem and went for it… to the point of utter exhaustion. Looking back, my outfits were terrible (we all start somewhere, right?) but my experience was amazing despite living off of McDonalds for a week and having ten or so blisters on my feet from wearing too many pairs of uncomfortable heels. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would be attending Fashion Week, I would not believe them.

(Here I am shooting for E! Network. Like, say what?!)

SWEATER: (c/o) Storets/PANTS: Club Monaco – love these too!/HEELS: more options here/EARRINGS: BaubleBar/BAG: (c/o) Gucci via Neiman Marcus

Flash forward three years later, not much has changed – except now I get invited on behalf of The Style Bungalow! I went from eating McDonalds to sushi, street pretzels and the occasional cup of coffee. Instead of a couch, I shared an Airbnb with 6 girls. I shoved 20 looks into two suitcases. And took cabs instead of the subway. My life during FW was oh so glamourous.  #YEAHRIGHT

(shout out to my NYFW roommate, Brighton!)

DRESS: Storets/HEELS: Schutz, more options here/EARRINGS: (c/o) BaubleBar

Did I mention the category 5 hurricane barreling towards my apartment right smack in the middle of the week? Right, about that… #YesStressLevelsWereHigh

SWEATER, SKIRT: (c/o) Banana Republic/BELT: Gucci (similar)/SANDALS, TOTE: (c/o) Neiman Marcus

Even though I have been to Fashion Week a couple times now, this season felt very special to me because of a couple things. Instead of schlepping around the City trying to “do it all” – to the point of utter exhaustion – I took two days off to create content. Which was so much fun, might I add! We rented a car, shoved a bunch of clothing in the backseat of the trunk and wandered around the City looking for iconic NYC “moments” to capture. And I gotta say, I did not suffer from FOMO one bit.

DRESS: (c/o) Storets/HEELS: (c/o) Ann Taylor/EARRINGS: (c/o) BaubleBar, love these too!

My NYFW roommates and my photographer were there to comfort me during moments of panic (when I thought my boyfriend would not be able to evacuate Miami during Hurricane Irma)…

Designers included girls from all walks of life in their shows be it petite, curvy, different, whatever… for the first time, “rail thin models” were replaced by normal women and it was beautiful. Simply beautiful. It felt very inclusive.

BLOUSE, SANDALS: (c/o) Neiman Marcus/SKIRT: (c/o) Storets/BAG: more options here

My favorite looks at Fashion Week were bright, comfy and virtually seasonless. You could wear them with flat sandals now, and with boots in the fall. Shows were joyful and vibrant. Dreamy. An escape from reality… leaving you feeling optimistic during a time where it seemed America (and I) needed it the most.

BLOUSE (turned dress): Storets, love this one too!/SLINGBACKS: Zara, more options here

And to that point, I’ll end with this – fashion week isn’t just about brands, status and trends, as many would describe “fashion week” to be. In many ways, Fashion Week is about making a statement and starting a conversation, too. It’s what you make of it. And for me this year, that meant finding inspiration in the little things. Things like sleeping on a bed instead of my friend’s couch in Spanish Harlem. (Lol, moving up!) Sharing Fashion Week with my photographer. Seeing “The Style Bungalow” on invitations. Getting stuck in NYC because of the hurricane and spending a few days with my boyfriend. Seeing new faces strut down the runway. Catching up with old friends. And seeing how amazing (and positive) the fashion industry can be, despite everything going on in the world.

Shop all my NYFW looks by clicking the pink links! (Everything from Shopbop is 30% off until Friday! Use code EOTS17) Thank you ALL for your comments on IG. These past couple of weeks have been such a mixture of emotions – and your support always touches me.

Xo, Stephanie

P.S.: To help those affected by the earthquake in Mexico, please click here. Let’s not forget about Puerto Rico

[Photography by Chelsae Anne]