What I’ve Learned From Attending Every Single Met Gala After-Party

Kylie Jenner leaving her hotel for the 2023 Met Gala. Photo: Getty Images

A few years ago, Chioma Nnadi—my former editor at, and now the head editorial of content for British Vogue—approached me with an idea. The number of after-parties following the Met Gala had exploded. Someone made an offhand remark that it would be “impossible” for anyone to go to all of them. It got Chioma thinking: What if someone tried?

So, in 2022, on the first Monday in May—as the Kardashians were still arriving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—I left to go party. And party some more.

Over my seven years at Vogue, I’ve been to around 20 Met Gala “afters.” (Probably more, if the pandemic hadn’t happened.) By May 7—if all goes as planned—that number will probably jump to at least 25.

As I enjoy my final few nights of restful sleep before my annual social odyssey, I took some time to reflect on what I’ve learned during my one night a year as a professional party girl. Lessons? I guess. Musings? Maybe. Offering a few helpful tips to anyone planning to attend multiple events with a dress code on the same night? That’s the goal.

Whatever your reasons for reading this are, find my recommendations for a multiple-party night below.

Pick—And Track—Your Poison

I still remember my first sip of alcohol. It was ninth grade, I was at [name redacted]’s house, and the Black Eyed Peas were playing. I had a crush on a tenth grader and wanted to impress him. So I sidled up to the counter, looked at my options, and made myself a… red Gatorade and rum.

Needless to say, this night did not end well. Yet the experience did inspire me to (rather psychotically) keep track of what alcohol I’m “best” on. I’m a blast on Champagne. A terror on tequila. Vodka is good for a bit, but one drink too many and I’m sending some weird drunk texts. (“I think about the Salem Witch Trials a lot” is something I genuinely sent to a guy I went on a date with.) White wine and rosé cause me to wake up at 4 a.m. Red wine, meanwhile? I could go glass-for-glass with Hemingway, then get up and run a 5K the next morning.

At my first Met Gala after-party, I drank whatever a waiter handed me—and a lot of it. When my alarm went off the next morning, I woke up with a raging hangover and a Gordian knot of anxiety thanks to the 100 unread emails in my inbox.

In New York City, you can divide people into two groups: The W-2s and the What-Do-You-Dos. If you are in the former camp like me—someone with a desk job, a boss, and knowledge of the various functions of Microsoft Office—you have to figure out how to balance the fun stuff with your financial reality. Or else you are one stop away from teetering into a trainwreck. (If you are the latter, ignore this and party like Uptown Girls’s Molly Gunn—before the whole embezzlement thing—for me.)

Nowadays, I keep track of how many drinks I have in my iPhone Notes app. Maturity, I guess?

Celebrities Are Not Just Like You

Last year, before the Met Gala, I got a “facial” from a celebrity facialist. “Facial” is in quotes here because whatever they did to my face was, well, not a regular facial: I was massaged, exfoliated, lasered, moisturized, micro-currented, and a bunch of other things I don’t really understand, even though it was explained in detail. Two hours later, she handed me a mirror. The reflection wasn’t me, but somehow was.

I didn’t pay for this facial. I couldn’t pay for this facial. Although her prices aren’t listed on her website, similar treatments can run up to $1,800 a session. It was comped—the insider term for “complimentary”—and I was far from the only comp of the day. A major fashion house with a table at the Met Gala had booked her for several of their guests: they too, were getting poked and prodded to perfection. Without the price tag.

It’s not just facials. Nail, hair, makeup—everything, really: the cost of these services is way beyond what a “normal” person can pay for. A high-end makeup artist usually costs over $1,000. As does hair. Many others have their dedicated glam squads on retainer… or the brands they have deals with do. And even if you do have the budget, you can’t necessarily access the same level of services they can. The facialist I went to? You can’t book her online. Instead, she handpicks her clients. Last time I checked, she’s not accepting anyone new.

My point is this: whenever you see a celebrity on a red carpet, or a glamorous party? Their faces and bodies cannot be achieved by “drinking a lot of water” or “Pilates.” They are achieved by thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—of dollars, as well as unprecedented, gate-kept access.

For a famous person, this makes sense. Their image is what makes them money. The facialists, the makeup artists, the personal trainers, the nutritionists, the dermatologists… they are quite literally business expenses. But please, don’t look at them—or even me—at the Met Gala and think this is something that somehow, you have to do too. The game is rigged against you. Buy stocks instead.

…Except They Also Lose Their Friends at the Bar

In my dreams, I walk into every single Met Gala after-party surrounded by all of my friends. We laugh in cool outfits and take cool selfies while cool people look at us thinking we’re also cool.

In my reality, I pull up solo in a Toyota Sienna UberX, try to catch the eye of the PR person at the door so she can usher me in, and then frantically scan the room for the first person I see. I don’t care who this person is. They could be my frenemy. They could be my ex-boyfriend. They could be someone who I deeply suspect is a grifter. They could be someone who is a confirmed, New York Magazine-level grifter. Whoever it is, I will beeline to them and utter some shamefully dishonest line about how good it is to see them. Meanwhile, I’m texting in the group chat: “Where is everybody?” followed by several “SOS” emojis.

Not gonna lie. For a while, this process always made me feel like a huge loser. However, this all changed when I noticed celebrities doing the exact same thing. There they were, making small talk with other people they clearly had nothing to say to! Hiding in a corner to pull out their phone to text someone—and then scroll through Instagram for a bit while they wait for that person to text them back! Waiting at the bar alone to order a drink that they then knock back with alarming speed to curb their social anxiety!

I could wax lyrical about how we’re all human at the end of the day. Yet I’m not going to do that, because again, I believe celebrities lead a strange, disorienting human existence. But I will say this: no one lives in a state of constant coolness. Sometimes, you’re just going to be alone in a crowded room.

Maybe Reconsider That Outfit With All the Cut-Outs

This one ain’t that deep. I’ve just seen a lot of nip-slips.

Take Care of Your Feet (and Yourself)

I have nerve damage in my pinky toe and recurrent plantar fasciitis from standing (and fine! Having a few too many drinks!) in heels for far too long. If it sounds like this doesn’t happen to most people, it’s because it doesn’t. For years, I doused my feet with numbing spray so I could run around all night without feeling any pain. (Perhaps a larger metaphor, but we’ll overlook that for now.)

Now, alone in my apartment, I wear a hideous brace made by a company called “Carex” and post queries on Reddit about icing techniques under a burner account.

Partying takes its toll eventually. On your mind, your skin—and in my case, your feet. Self-care can be an obnoxious, and often weaponized term. (“I’m sorry that I forgot your birthday and haven’t completed any of your Venmo requests, I just have a lot going on right now and am prioritizing self-care.”) But, alas: make sure to practice self-care. Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth isn’t real. Being young and fun doesn’t make you invincible. Go to therapy, take all your makeup off before going to bed, and wear Dr. Scholl’s. (And Dr. Scholl’s, if you are reading this, please sponsor me.)

And on that note, I’m now preparing myself for the First Monday in May. I have no idea what I’m wearing, what parties I’m invited to, or whether that fancy facialist will ever invite me back to her Upper East Side studio. But I do know this: I can’t wait to gossip with you all about it all the next day.

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