At first glance, I thought there were caterpillars on her eyes.

I involuntarily flinched, but then realized the stranger next to me had been deluded into thinking she could carry off jet-black mile-long eyelash extensions despite a fair complexion and icy bleached-blonde hair. I couldn’t help but gawk. The poor woman resembled nothing more than a victim of some bizarre insect torture out of American Horror Story. Who told her that looked good?

If only she had run it by a friend.

Later, I literally ran into a woman who was so incapacitated by her stripper-pump Louboutins that, as she ran to grab her Uber, she tripped over her own patent leather encased toes, became ensnared in her precipitous miniskirt and fell smack on her Botox-ed face. I debated stopping to help her, but feared I would get pulled into the morass of fashion insanity. Was this contagious? I wasn’t taking any chances.

As I gazed sadly at the fallen human Bratz doll, orange spray tanned legs akimbo and messy bun unspooling, I wondered, “Don’t you have any friends?”

As soon as I started noticing the high frequency of fashion faux pas occurring all around me, I reflexively checked to see if the offending women were ever accompanied. It seemed to me that those blessed with friends dressed more rationally.

All over this great nation, otherwise sensible women are looking ridiculous and inappropriate with alarming frequency. Not one of us is immune. It is my firm conviction that we all need tough love.

And for tough love, you need real friends — real friends who tell you the down-and-dirty truth. Forget spinach in the teeth — that’s kid stuff. We’re talking full-on intimacy and stark naked facts — things that need to be said to prevent future disasters. Do you think the new boyfriend is gay? Spill it. Are the pink highlights juvenile? Speak up. Is there something that’s just not working? If you care about me at all, you need to pull me aside and lay it all out. You know that old slogan, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk?” True friends don’t let friends careen through life making avoidable mishaps.

My friend Liza saw a silver lamé maxi skirt embossed with a crocodile-skin texture at Barney’s and had to try it on. She was up-to-date with her September issue of Vogue and knew this $1,000.00 skirt checked all the “must -have” boxes of the season. 

A real collectible,” she said. “An investment piece.”

Dazed, she wandered into the lacquered coffers of the dressing room, slipped it on and looked on, a sly smile hovering across her enigmatic sphinx face. She imagined herself sipping smart cocktails in it, collecting compliments from people she admired and even running into her ex while wearing it. He’d look on, longingly, with regret. Yes, she thought, that would be the perfect moment to display your brilliance with something this striking, prescient and jolie-laid.

And then, she left the magical “realism” of the dressing room to sashay across the beige wall-to-wall, to me — her friend — and I immediately said, “Absolutely not.”

She knew in her gut I was right. Thanks to me, she was spared compound interest on an overpriced idiot sack and an assault on her pride.

It goes both ways. I’ve been doing a lot of crunches and cutting out carbs. Consequently, my calorie- starved brain started to think that midriff baring tops are a good idea. Mind you, I am mother to a nine-year-old, therefore midriff baring is probably more of a concept than a thing I should ever put into practice. Let’s be honest, even on a concave tummy like Miley Cyrus, it’s still a bit… embarrassing. But if I am low-blood sugar enough, and flying solo, I will do it, and even, God help me, post it on Instagram.

Recently, I found a $2 crop top in pale pink at a stoop sale embossed with jacquard rosettes. The label said Forever 21, but to me, it said, “great with my black pleather miniskirt.”

I gave the local stoop sale impresario $2 and sprinted up the creaky stairs to my third-floor apartment. In the air-conditioned utopia of my bedroom, I paired the ensemble with some chunky heels, a black stretchy eighties belt to cover the navel gap and triumphantly twerked in front of my mirror. Glancing at my phone, I saw I was late, ran out the door and burst onto the street to meet Liza.

She took one look at me and quite cheerily chirped, “That’s so ‘Sex in the City’!”

“Poof!” went the bubble of my fantasy, leaving a sad soapy streak on the sidewalk.

“I’ll be right back,” I muttered, and reemerged in some sensible skinny jeans and a shirt that actually covered my muffin top.

Thank God I have friends.