Forget what's on the runways. At New York Fashion Week the single most important fashion show is the front row. The people who sit there...

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NEW YORK — Forget what’s on the runways. At New York Fashion Week the single most important fashion show is the front row. The people who sit there, after all, are the ones who tell you what you’ll be wearing next season.

That includes me.

As the fashion writer for The Associated Press, I report on the trends, the best looks and the worst ones. It’s my goal to look at fashion through the everywoman’s eye. Not too difficult, since I consider myself a bit of an everywoman — a working mother of two who straddles the dual worlds of sedate suburbs and big city every weekday.

But I have to sit next to people who start with their personal trainers probably hours after giving birth; have makeup, hair and manicure professionals at their fingertips; and usher in the new season with a shopping spree that can last days.

Me, I’ve got a clothing allowance that could be blown on a single pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, and even less time to browse the stores to spend it. My look calls for a precise strategy:

Step 1: Get a good haircut. A few weeks before the big to-do, I head to the well-known Frederic Fekkai salon. It’s expensive but I get only a cut, no color or other treatments. And a good haircut can do wonders for your confidence.

Step 2: Fekkai’s salon is conveniently located in the Henri Bendel department store, so I begin my shopping there. I’m drawn to the Diane von Furstenberg section because I know her dresses fit me well and that, in the world of designer clothes, they’re relatively affordable.

More than $600 later, I’ve got a bag with two dresses from DVF’s fall collection, considered one of her strongest in years. Seems like a good start for Fashion Week.

Step 3: Well, there was no step three. Family commitments and real life get in the way, and I report for duty at the Bryant Park tents, front and center at the John Bartlett show wearing an outfit I bought last spring (gasp!) at a little boutique in Connecticut.

But my colleagues say I look great in the olive green jersey gaucho pants, tank top and cardigan with a little ruffle down the front. And it’s comfortable — important on a day that starts at 5:15 a.m. and ends at midnight.

Here’s what else I wore when I covered the shows:

Sunday: Long linen skirt, brown fitted T-shirt, thick belt around the hips and a chunky-knit white cardigan sweater. All Gap. All on sale during the summer.

This outfit incorporates fall’s chunky layered trends, but is casual and perfect on a Sunday, when no one wants to look overdressed. Plus, almost everyone, including myself, wants to wear flat shoes because the DKNY show is way downtown and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a taxi back to Midtown.

Monday: Get out the DVF! I choose my new brown and black animal-print DVF jersey shirtdress. Not my absolute favorite, but packed wrinkle-free in my computer bag overnight. Three cheers for jersey.

Then, disaster: My Coach patent leather slingbacks — long one of my favorites, but particularly on trend this year — become unwearable when a strap breaks.

I raid my sister’s closet (I’m staying with her since she lives in Manhattan) and pull out her patent leather shoes. But, by the time I get to my office, I realize that either her foot has shrunk or mine has grown, and that there’s no way I can wear these shoes all day.

My husband gamely agrees to deliver some black pumps on his way to work (he’s also bringing the rest of my week’s preselected wardrobe).

But, oh no! They’re black pumps with pink trim. What was he thinking?! I should’ve asked my 6-year-old to pick them out, she’d have more shoe savvy.

I have no choice but to wear them, but my confidence is shot.

Tuesday: Black jersey gauchos, black jersey tunic, chunky-knit black cardigan and chunky silver necklace.

I dressed around the shoes. Since I’m still pumpless, I have to wear the black suede ballet flats and this is the outfit that looks best with them. The outfit is comfortable — I got it at the same store as my first-day ensemble — but I feel this is a little trendier and it’s a little newer.

Wednesday: Black-and-white print DVF dress with a keyhole neck and bow, tight-weave black cardigan and black suede ballet flats.

Not bad, but still pumpless. Heels would have been much better with this, but I simply didn’t have time to buy new ones. Plus, I had to keep my sweater on all day because I didn’t bring a low-cut enough bra.

Thursday: Black pants, striped jersey shirt — I’m really digging jersey — and black V-neck short-sleeve sweater. Black high-heeled boots.

It’s raining and I can pull this off as the layered look. I wish I had thought to wear my boots earlier in the week, but the weather seemed too summery.

When I was packing my bag, I thought this was the weak link, but it turned out OK.

Friday: I wrap up the week with a wrap dress in a boho-style print, high-heel brown croc pumps, chunky wood necklace.

The good news about my shoe dilemma earlier in the week was that my feet were still up for heels on the last day of Fashion Week.

Usually by now, I’m in jeans and sneakers, but this time I got to go out on a high note.