Surviving Charleston Fashion Week is about more than looking good — you've got to have stamina and wits to make it through the five days of shows and after-parties. We've compiled a list of tips gleaned from our years under the tents.
1. Get street-styled. How else can you prove to everyone on Facebook how fabulous you are than to have your picture snapped by a professional fashion blogger? The light is best right before dusk, so show up to the tents early to catch the optimal setting for a perfect snap. Arriving before everyone else is also a sneaky way to get noticed — if you're the only one there, you have the best chance of being the best-dressed. Photographers aren't only looking for who is perfectly styled, but also for what makes a good picture. Wear bright colors, interesting details, or the trends for the season. On the other hand, you could go completely left field and wear the craziest thing in your closet. This is your chance to unabashedly strut your stuff through Marion Square. Work it.
2. Check the weather. It's March and in any other city you could get away with your fall wardrobe. After all, you've spent the past few months perfecting the layered look and you'd love an excuse to show off your grandmother's vintage fur, but this is Charleston. Last year, we all scrambled to find new spring pieces as the temperatures skyrocketed into the 80s during CFW. We didn't get a chance to tan or tone and there are some tragically pasty pictures of our bare legs on the blogs.
3. Know your designers. The Emerging Designer Competition of Charleston Fashion Week is the real buzz of the week. These young up-and-comers could soon be in the pages of Vogue, so get to know them now. Best of all, sometimes you can score their designs right off the runway as many of them put their wares up for sale online or in stores shortly after CFW.
4. Study the celebrities. Don't be like us last year. We spent the better half of a show wondering, "Who is the stunning, lithe woman across from us?" It turned out to be Cynthia Bailey from The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Thankfully we didn't make the same mistake with Damon Dash and tried to wave like an idiot at him because we were sure we were fated to be best friends. This year we've got Fern Mallis, Ashanti, and Christian Siriano (our favorite Project Runway alum) in town.
5. Careful with the champagne (and other adult beverages). You probably haven't eaten all day so you could squeeze into that sample-sized dress, so be mindful of your booze intake. A few vodka tonics may make it easier to walk in those heels, but quarters are tight and you don't want to go stumbling into someone's lap. You can always pinpoint the ladies who have had one too many because they'll be hooting the loudest for the shirtless male models.
6. Don't wait in line. At intermission, everyone has the same plan — refill their drinks or empty their bladder. Those fancy porta-johns become the hottest commodity in Marion Square. Here's our biggest secret: run to the nearest bar. You'll spend less time booking it to Upper Deck, AC's, or The Smoking Lamp than waiting in line outside the tents. The drinks will be cheaper, you can pee in peace, and have a chance to regroup before heading back. (Sometimes the bartenders will even let you recharge your phone.)
7. Eat something. The shows start at 6 p.m., so you barely have time to change out of your work clothes, let alone eat. After the final model struts down the runway, you will be famished. We suggest memorizing the restaurants that stay open late, like Rarebit and Butcher and Bee. Rue de Jean became something of a cafeteria for many journalists and photographers last year. Pizza delivery was on speed dial for others. Or do as one blogger did and keep snacks in your purse. Très chic granola?