*This post is sponsored by Old Navy
A few weeks ago I was asked to pitch an idea for a fashion week story. ‘Fashion week for the every girl’ rolled off my tongue and into an email faster than most ideas that I have. This surprised me two ways; that I thought of a pitch at all and so quickly, and that I was confident enough to not think it through before hitting ‘send’. Perhaps this was in part due to the fact that most of the time my ideas are braver than I am and also, when I pitch an idea it usually gets tweaked by whomever I’m collaborating with. It’s best I don’t get tied down to an idea or stuck in a one-line story. Much to my surprise within a few minutes I get an email back saying ‘perfect, let’s go with this. You’re headed to NYFW on behalf of Old Navy.’ I blinked twice at the response and thought what have I just gotten myself into. 
I’ve been to fashion week a few times — well, let me rephrase that — I’ve been to New York during fashion week a few times. Once for an in-store event and once for a conference I was on a panel for. No shows or parties, just being in the city during the time was enough for me to feel inspired. In fact, I’ve never seen myself as one to have a foot in the door of the world of high fashion. I am happy to consume what designers and artists create, happy to watch and see what others curate and style, and happy to be inspired by whatever I can from the fashion industry from street style to editorials to designers collections. As someone who loves personal style and helping others find their own, I’ve always found the other side of style (fashion) to be intimidating. Intimidation is a cruel but inspiring thing. One way or another I was jumping in because I had a non-refundable ticket to New York and a job to do. No one in their right mind would turn that opportunity down. Thankfully the first night was easy — the Old Navy x Joe Zee launch party. Parties? Oh yes, parties I can do. I didn’t go to college for nothing, did I?  

     OLD NAVY X JOE ZEE PARTY      

(Mr. Joe Zee, everyone. He was so pleasant and nice! Katie Holmes was there too, but I never got around to telling her about my love for Joey Potter. Next time we hang out, I’m sure I’ll get to talk to her and hold her hand and brush her hair. You know, normal things you do with best friends you’ve just met.) 
                       DAY ONE                      
I should have kept a diary of my thoughts during this day as I’m sure it would have sounded like that of a 14-year old girl on her first day of school being dropped off by her dad at a new school. I had my outfit laid out, the address of the show in my phone, and a whole ball of nerves just ready to be wound up tight. I kept thinking all morning — what am I doing here? I don’t belong here, this isn’t my scene — all the way to the show. It was one long taxi ride. With my self-doubt fully in tact, I shyly walked into the show, grabbed my seat before someone could tell me I was an impostor and waited quietly for the Wes Gordon show to start. A few minutes later editors start showing up, people I’ve seen in magazine pages, documentaries, whom I’ve admired from afar, all start showing up and sitting down right before my eyes.  Then before I know it I’m taking notes on style in my phone.  I start looking around and there is style everywhere. In the subtle way a girl wears her braid, in a blazer tossed carefully over shoulders, the perfectly imperfect mix and match of an outfit. I kind of become lost in the crowd of fashion and how amazing it is to see such style in real life. And then the lights go down and the show starts. It’s a constant stream of beautiful pieces for a much-too-quick 5 minutes, pieces that I can hardly remember now. I tried to snap photos on my phone but between the motion blurs and my own excitement, I ended up just watching the show. As the lights come back up, people file in line and out the door faster than you could imagine. I sit there for a second and catch myself. This is amazing. 

I think I’ve always shied away from the idea of fashion and always leaned towards style. I once heard a quote that was somewhere along the lines of style is what we do with fashion. Even when people ask what I do I specifically say ‘style blogger’ and not ‘fashion.’ I’ve never felt worthy enough, I suppose, to say I was a  fashion blogger, as I don’t wear many labels or designers nor do I fancy myself high-fashion. (More like mid-to-low fashion cause that’s a thing right?) But show after show I felt myself warm up more and more to the idea that is fashion. It’s a creativity, it’s an art in how you get dressed. It’s not designers, or money spent, (although it can be I respect that, too), but it’s in what and how you do something. That’s what I kept being inspired by over and over throughout the weekend — seeing style turned into art. 
                       DAY TWO                     


(Old Navy Moto Jacket, J.Crew Silk Dress, Vince Camuto Heels, DVF purse, Old Navy Sunnies (in store))

I mean I think we can all agree on the fact that knowing exactly what to wear during an important week in the fashion industry is slightly anxiety-inducing. Therefore I will be the first to say — I did not know what to wear. I just knew what I liked and what would make me feel comfortable. And I have to say — this is a good formula to go with. Especially when in a new situation feeling comfortable with what you’ve got is good, in fact, I’d say it’s key. By the second day I was feeling good in my own skin again. My anxiety of the unknown had turned into excitement of the new. All of a sudden I wanted to go to all of the shows just to have the runway high again. I found myself looking at the professional photos after the show, reliving each style piece by piece figuring out how I can make that work for me — for the girl who doesn’t walk a runway everyday but an un-level sidewalk to work. (Don’t worry, I made notes to share with you more tomorrow.) Turns out, it is possible to be inspired by something you never even thought you’d ever relate to.  Perhaps that’s the best inspiration around. 

                        DAY THREE                      

My last day in New York was met with seeing old/new friends I’ve only known through email or blogs. (The internet is a great way to meet people, by the way. They should make a dating site for that and name it Match or something clever like that.) After the last few shows / presentations, I felt like I had the routine down. What to wear (heels), what not to wear (heels), and what to look for in each show and on the streets for inspiration to take back home. I realized that the week had a lot less to do with me (and what I was going to wear) and had a lot more to do with the business of fashion and the art of style. That even though I was nervous of the unknown, there was no reason to be nervous but excited.  I started the week out feeling like I was an outsider who didn’t belong and I left feeling inspired to look at my closet again as art and a source of creativity, not so much concerned about where I belonged in the grand scheme of things. I’m not an expert in the industry, but I feel like that is a job well done. 
_______________________
And tomorrow, as promised, a post about how to take the trends I saw at Fashion Week and make them work for you now and next spring. It’s going to be life-changing. Maybe. It could be. We’ll see.  
(PS: sorry for the truncated post, this was just SO long!)
_________________________

This post was sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s latest fashion lineup in store or online at oldnavy.com.

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66 Responses

  1. Oh my!! All of these outfits are one of your best outfits ever!! It's so hard to pick just one, but if I would have to, it would be 2nd to last! It looks so chic, even a bit futuristic and bit "away" from what we're used to see on your blog.

    http://lartoffashion.blogspot.com

  2. Thank you for giving us a "keeping it real" perspective on fashion week! Looking forward to tomorrow's post. Keep it up, Kendi!

  3. Kendi! What an awesome experience!! I've always imagined what fashion week would be like and I loved that you described it so naturally. I appreciate you being so honest too. I think I would be super intimidated, so it's nice to know that even someone with as much style and beauty as you felt a little intimidated too. For the record, you looked beautiful and had no reason to be nervous. Thanks for sharing your time at fashion week and for always being such a real person. Amazing!!

  4. You look amazing!!!! Love that cobalt dress. Stunning. It's on my bucket list to be in New York for fashion week!!!! Great post.

    Agi:)

    vodkainfusedlemonade.com

  5. This is SO great! You look rockin' in each shot, and I think you represent the Old Navy brand so well! Also, high fives all around for future Katie Holmes hair brushing moments…let's make it happen! 😉

  6. I just need to say, I think you are my favorite fashion blogger – and yes I said 'fashion' because you ARE worthy enough! Love this post. Love the looks. Love your blog!

  7. LOVED this post and could totally relate to all of it 🙂 I just had the conversation with my friends about how I feel I am a "style" blogger versus "fashion". But, this post totally changed my mind a perspective. And you are rockin all your looks!

    Tori
    FashionBlingGirlyThings

  8. Loved the Kayjay booties!!! I'd love something like that, but with a much lower heel. Looks like you had a grand time. Good for you!! Thanks for the continued inspiration. ~Valerie
    fastfrugalfashion.blogspot.com

  9. I actually picked up a few things from Old Navy yesterday! I love the clothes there right now! I actually bought the plaid white top you are wearing, I'm going back to get it in black. Great post, love your style.

    Jade
    themillenniumhalcon.blogspot.com

  10. Thank you so much for writing this. I can't tell you how many blog posts I've read this week by bloggers who go to Fashion Week and then write only about themselves, how much their feet hurt, what they're Instagramming, the party-hopping they did, without even giving us a hint of the fashion they are seeing. It's so refreshing to have someone admit that they feel intimidated, that they "don't belong", that they don't know what to wear. Your style vs. fashion is something that I myself always try to work with. While I love fashion, it's not my everyday life. Sure, it's inspiring, and I can steal ideas to make it work within my own style, but it's not me. So, basically, thanks for being honest and for being you.

    xo
    Erin

  11. Your outfits are all so fun! And I love that it is all budget-friendly. I can actually buy the pieces you're showing us- not run out crazy trying to find a cheaper version! I have to say though, I love the sweater and bucket bag in your "Day 1" look- but I would love to jazz it up with a statement shoe with some color or print. These red studded sandals are hot and won't break the bank, which makes me love them even more!!

    http://www.chineselaundry.com/cl-by-laundry/brandee-4169

  12. I love this post! I love your style and how real you are and how we can all relate to you in some way 🙂 thanks for keeping it real Kendi 😉
    Ps. Looking forward to your hair styling post in the future!

  13. By far my favorite recap of NYFW from a blogger. Thank you for being cool enough to admit how in awe and excited you were, because that's how most of the rest of us would feel! I alllllllmost made me feel like I was there too 🙂

    ~Sarah of Sarah's Real Life

  14. You nailed the "every girl" prospective for sure! I feel like many of the style/fashion bloggers I religiously follow have fallen completely into the world of high fashion and forget their loyal, regular ol' every day reader. Their posts become cold, intimidating and unrelatable, and sadly it begins to turn me off. They end up making me feel like I'm not good enough or I'm not fashionable because I can't afford that Carolina Herrera skirt, those Prada shoes or that Chanel bag and I don't stick my nose up in the air when I walk around in my designer clothes. I have always felt like you were someone who could be a friend (maybe it's cuz we're both Dallas girls). When you write about your style your tone is so genuine and you always stay true to your style and exactly who you are. I so admire and respect that quality. Reading about your NYFW trip was so enjoyable! Keep up the awesome work!

  15. Loved reading every word of this! Your relate-ability is oh so comforting and you are for sure, one stylish lady! xx

  16. I love this recap! I think I would feel the same way as you did if I were to NYFW. Excited to read tomorrow's post. Thank you for keeping it real!

    I haven't been blogging nearly as long as you have, but I also refer to myself as a style/personal style blogger and not a fashion blogger. I correct people when they call me a fashion blogger, haha.

    xo Kimi
    http://www.twentysomethingsimple.wordpress.com

  17. I think designer clothes are not affordable for everyone, especially when money goes on day to day living expenses, but hey, if you got it, go for it. I love old navy cuz they are affordable and trendy and I can save my money for my future. Yes! How you dress is an art. I got me some cute clothes at great prices. Makes me feel good.

  18. I love your take on NYFW. It's so refreshing to see an in depth and realistic look on how NYFW impacts someone attending the numerous shows/parties. I feel I would go through the same wave of emotions as you did. I'm glad you ended up loving Fashion Week and I hope one day I'll get the chance to attend it also! Thank you for sharing your experience!

    http://lapetitegrace.com

  19. I absolutely love this post! And I really get the feeling you have of 'not belonging'. I like fashion, I really do. And I also love to watch the pictures of the shows and discover the trends and then translating those trends to everyday wear. But I would feel the same way as you if I was dropped at NY fashion week like that 🙂

  20. I feel a little behind, but I am just recently discovering your blog. This post was so wonderful. As a began reading it I was thinking how freaking nervous I would be and what would I wear. It was so nice to read that your felt those things as well 🙂 You looked lovely and your looks were attainable. I look forward to more posts.

  21. So awesome! Thanks for sharing what fashion week is like for the rest of us! I can imagine myself acting just the same surrounded by all that prestige, drama, lights, and Fashion!! So excited for your next post!

  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so real! I had to take a break from Twitter and Insta during NYFW because it was just too much — too much bragging, too much talk about how people's feet hurt, too many designer names I didn't know. I loved hearing your "every girl" perspective, I wish there was more of this online! Glad you had a wonderful time, can't wait for the full recap! ~Madeline

  23. I absolutely love this post! I love checking out blogs from fashion week to see the inspiration, but in the past it has intimidated me as well! But now, I think I know myself well enough to know what looks I'd like to recreate in my own way and instead feel inspired. It's a dream of mine to attend NYFW some day! I attended events for LA fashion week before and loved it and would love the experience to do NYFW!

  24. I like the outfits, but don't get most of the comments saying they love how affordable her style is. I disagree. I can afford the old navy and target stuff, but designer stuff, no way. Just a modest school teachers income, but very proud at that too! 🙂

  25. i love your perspective on the idea of fashion meeting style. i couldn't agree more. attending fashion week in New York is one of my life dreams, yet to live out, and i too think i would be super nervous and feeling very out of place. but, now when that day, hopefully, comes, i'll heed your words of wisdom and be an excited sponge, soaking in all the inspiration around me. i'm awe-struck already!

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