Survive your first Fashion Week • Cat Morley

London Fashion Week is only a few days away and hundreds of new bloggers will be attending for the first time. It can be intimidating knowing what to wear, how to act and what to expect on your first season, so I've put together a little guide to help with the confusion.

Being invited to your first fashion week is exciting but can also be quite intimidating. When Tom and I received press passes for our first London Fashion Week in 2009, we were sure it was a mistake and that they'd realise that as soon as they clocked eyes on how unfashionably we were dressed and snatch the passes back. Eventually we realised that we had as much right to be there as anyone else and so do you! So here are my tips and tricks for surviving your first ever Fashion Week:

1. Manage your expectations

First of all, I'm going to let you in to a little secret and destroy the illusion that fashion week is nowhere near as glamorous as it seems in the movies and magazines. In reality, it's a lot of standing around, caffeine-fuelled early mornings, rejection by the bucket load, and, if you're doing it right, a lot of work. The front row seats are few and reserved for celebrities and industry experts who have worked their way to the top through years of hard work. More than likely, you'll spend your first season crammed at the back between hundreds of other bloggers and journalists, stretching to get a good view of models over a sea of cell phones and cameras. If you're lucky, you might get a spot on a bench near the back, which feels like heaven after hours of standing. But don't get disheartened, as magical things can happen if you're in the right place at the right time and we've still got the paparazzi photos and goodies bags to show from the time we were rushed forward to fill a couple of empty front row seats at the Savoy.

2. Apply for a press pass

It's best to apply for your pass well in advance, when registration first opens for your best chance of being approved. If you still haven't heard back as the week approaches, feel free to chase up the press office to check on your application. They're really busy and it's no surprise that an application might get lost in the sea of requests. You're blog will need to have the right credentials to be approved for a pass, so if you might need to get a little more creative if you're not a big enough publication yet. Get in touch with magazines, local papers and zines and offer to provide their coverage, as they often get extra passes and will appreciate a free reporter. If it's okay with the editor, you can then share the coverage on your blog and you'll have something to show the Fashion Week Press Team on next season's application. If you're not lucky enough to get a pass this season, you can still be part of the event by watching shows online and providing reports and feedback on your blog. Once you've built up a reputation as a fabulous fashion reporter, they'll come begging you to attend next season.

3. Request invitations

Sadly, securing a Press Pass doesn't guarantee entry to shows and you still need to request invitations from each of the designers individually. You should be able to find contact information for each of the press teams via the fashion week website or press room. At London Fashion Week you're provided with a mail merge files, so you can send one email to all of the press teams in one go. It's best to be polite and not too pushy when requesting an invitation. Let the publicist know why you should be invited and what coverage you'll provide in return. If it's a designer you really love, add a personal touch to let them know you're a fan, as this will make your request stand out from all the template-written applications. And finally, make sure to include any essential information like traffic stats and your address, so that they can send out your invite.

4. Plan out your schedule

With dozens of shows running at the same time, it's impossible to see everything, so it's important to prioritise the shows that you're most excited about along with the ones you have invitations for. Study a map to get an idea for where venues are located and research how long it will take to get between shows when planning what you'll attend.Shows rarely run on time and won't start until the front row celebrities take their seats, no matter how "fashionable late" they are, and it's important to arrive early to get a good place in the queue, so you'll need to schedule in extra time at either side of. Though the actual shows only last for a matter of minutes, you can expect to queue anywhere up to an hour beforehand and you might still be turned away if the show is overcapacity, even if you have an invitation.

5. Dress the part

Planning out what to wear can be one of the most daunting tasks of all but Fashion Week is far more about individual style than wearing expensive designer brands. You'll see attendees dressed in everything from the latest designer couture to old season high street brands, so don't worry about getting looked up and down if you show up in your usual attire. Professional and comfortable always works best for me and if you're crafty, it's also a great opportunity to show off something you've made and if you're lucky, a few journalists might ask for a quick photo.

Though heels might help you get a better view of the catwalk when stuck at the back of a packed room, you're going to be spending a lot of time on your feet queuing for shows and running between venues. I'd suggest packing a pair of flats for the day and you can still slip in to your killer high stilettos for the evening parties. It's also a good idea to stick an extra tote in your bag, as you'll pick up all kinds of flyers, magazines and press releases throughout the day. Don't worry about it if you're attending London Fashion Week as you'll be treated to a lovely Mulberry tote when you pick up your pass.

6. Get in to shows without an invitation

Don't give up hope if you don't receive an invitation to a show you were hoping to see. Head along to the venue early and ask the publicist in charge if there are any Standing Tickets left. They'll often have a few extra on hand or have had some cancellations earlier in the day. You'll also win brownie points by not being arrogant enough to demand a seat. If it's still a no, stick around anyway as they'll often let in a few stragglers when everyone else has taken their seats. The front row and seated tickets will be let in first, followed by standing tickets and then it's a free for all. It can get pretty pushy a this point, so make sure to hold your ground and if you get the go ahead from security, walk in quickly without hesitation and grab a good spot. Shows early in the morning, late in the evenings and during the work week tend to be less busy, so there's more chance of getting through the door, sometimes even if you don't have a press pass.

Top Tip: Though most shows will take place at the official Fashion Week show space, bigger designers will host their events at landmark venues and secret locations. Check Twitter just before the show, as attendees will often tweet their invitation and you can head along for some celeb spotting.

7. Be polite

You'll no doubt witness a lot of "don't you know who I think I am" moments at Fashion Week, so that staff and security really appreciate it when you're polite. Sadly there can be a lot of snobbery in the fashion world but there's nothing more satisfying than seeing someone who has arrogantly push in without a ticket get turned away while you patiently wait in line. You can tell who the really important people are by a gold star or special coloured sticker on their invitation.

8. Have fun and make friends

Fashion Week is a fantastic time to network and make new friends. Strike up a conversation in the Press Room or while waiting in line for a show. Complimenting an outfit or accessory is a good ice breaker with fashionistas. Be generous and give away any spare tickets for shows you can't attend. There are lots of perks during the week, like free hair cuts and makeovers that remain unadvertised, so having good relationships with people in the know is everything. If you're still standing at the end of the day, the evenings are filled with fashion parties all over the city offering free drinks, goodie bags and a glimpse of celebrities. You may need to RSVP for the more exclusive ones but keeping an eagle eye on Twitter should help to keep you in the loop.

I hope you're feeling a little more confident about attending. Have fun and don't worry, each season is a learning experience and you'll feel like right at home in in no time. Any questions? Just leave me a comment!