How Coral Lipstick Saved My Fashion Week

I try not to get too stressed out about fashion week. Let’s be real: it’s seven days of parties, pretty (and sometimes ugly) clothing, free drinks, good music, and attempting to interview celebrities. It’s not rocket science and it’s not a war zone. Getting dressed for it, however, is another matter entirely.

I’m not a particularly vain person (I know my good side for photographs but have no qualms about leaving the house in no makeup and a pair of Converse), but there’s something about putting together ensembles for this twice annual affair of self-celebratory fashion that leaves me in an absolute panic. I’ve tried all the tricks: I’ve told myself no one cares what I look like (true), no one is paying any attention to me at all (sad, but true), and there are enough people dressed like absolute lunatics so as to render any legitimate fashion faux-pas entirely moot (annoying, but very, very true.)

And yet, as every morning rolled around and I found myself staring despondently at my closet, a pile of discarded options puddled around my feet and sweat beading on my forehead, I couldn’t help but care. I wanted to look good. I wanted to look effortlessly cool. I wanted to get complimented, to get an appraising look, to get stopped by all the unknown and enterprising street style photographers congregated around the steps of Lincoln Center. I wanted Bill Cunningham to take my picture, dammit. Is that too much to ask?

It is. And it’s also unnecessary. Because all of this is to say that there’s no week like fashion week to make a person feel unimportant and unattractive and as much as I’m loathe to admit it, I fell victim to its evil, incredibly-detrimental-to-your-self-esteem clutches. And so every morning, I gave up. I wore some variation on the one outfit that made me feel not only somewhat good about myself, but, well, just like me: flats or flat boots, a striped tank, a few layers, and black jeans or leggings. And every morning, I topped off whatever version of my unassuming uniform I wore that day with several coats of bright coral lipstick.

I wore coral lipstick whether or not I’d had time to put on makeup. I wore coral lipstick with unwashed hair. I wore coral lipstick with the same ratty tank I’d worn for 4 days in a row and the same pair of almost ready to be trashed J.Brand jeans and I wore it with chipped nail polish, with acne, and with a bland, but decidedly practical laptop-carrying bag. In other words: I wore it with everything. And, you know what? It made me feel great. One swipe of that lipstick and I felt instantly brighter, happier, and accidentally put together. And while my outfits may not have gotten me even the slightest of second looks, my lipstick got me compliments left, right, and center.

(And oh, what a fitting end to this part of the story: I lost my lipstick at my final show of the week, Calvin Klein.)

But let’s make no mistake: this post isn’t just about lipstick (though I heartily endorse Tom Ford’s True Coral as my go-to, signature lippie), it’s about finding the one thing that makes you happy. For Justin, it’s Dolce & Gabbana’s Pour Homme fragrance. For Julia, it’s statement earrings and at least two rings. For me, it’s coral lipstick.

And that’s what fashion should be: finding, wearing, and loving the things that make you happy — anyone else’s opinion or stamp of approval be damned. So, now it’s your turn, fellow fashion-obsessed peeps: what’s your coral lipstick?

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