From Woodstock to Coachella and Glastonbury to Lollapalooza, festivals are like apples and oranges, each are different. And as much as we like to march to the beat of our own drums, there’s an unwritten rule when it comes to festival fashion that we strongly suggest you adhere to. Celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens and the Kardashian-Jenners make festival fashion appear easy and effortless, which in actual fact is far from reality. So, to help you get through the summer, we’ve roped in experts from celebrity stylists, designers and top musicians to get the lowdown on dressing for music festivals.
Tip #1: Pack wisely
Overstuffing your suitcase for a 3 to 4 day trip is honestly not worth the extra hassle (or baggage charges). So, pack smart by bringing easy and breezy transitional garments instead. That said, it’s probably a good idea to anticipate weather changes and pack accordingly. We recommend bringing a trusty lightweight denim jacket—it ups the ante of your outfit and will also keep your warm if it starts to get chilly. If you can muster up a waterproof version, you’ll be all set come rain or shine.
Marta Goldschmied, designer of her namesake clothing line, suggests going for an easy-to wear PVC jacket, because it’s a “great essential for those chilly festival nights when you want something casual but, that will stand out in a party or crowd.” But if you want to remain cool, yet cozy throughout the entire night, Goldschmied recommends a “long tee because a hoodie can get in the way of whatever do with my hair, which then equals bad selfies! I like to throw on a flashy jacket at night and a killer pair of sneakers, which for me personally, are always a pair of dirty, perfectly worn in Air Forces.” If you’re feeling punk, leather jackets are the way to go.
Tip #2: Make the right fabric choices
When it comes to festival fashion, nothing is more crucial than choosing the right material. After all, who wants to end their weekend with a long receipt from the dry cleaner? For festival like Glastonbury, Woodstock and Ultra where it’s almost always hot and humid, take a style cue from Kourtney Kardashian’s stylist, Dani Michelle who advises goers to “avoid wearing plastics, like all the cool new shoes that have come out, and fabrics that don’t breathe. The last thing you want to do is feel like your clothes are inhibiting your fun!”.
If you find yourself gravitating towards cute crochet tops, don’t. Andrew Gelwicks, stylist to Delilah Belle Hamlin, says, “there are some really cute crochet bralettes and crop tops out there but I would steer clear of those if it’s going to be humid and you know you get overheated easily.”. Also, stay away from silks or satins; they’re not breathable and will show patches of sweat, which are never cute.
Tip #3: Approach prints with an open mind
DJ and producer Steve Aoki suggests recommends going hard or going home when it comes to bold and colourful prints. He would “mix tie dyes with patched up denim jeans and jackets, floral and camouflage prints, toss on some accessories and jewelry, plus anything else to show you’re having a good time and not taking yourself too seriously”.
While it’s fun to play around with print on print (when done correctly), Charlotte McKinney thinks that we should keep things balanced. “For a printed swimsuit, it’s always best to partner up with blocked solid colors for tops, bottoms, dresses and find complementary colors,” she says.
Tip #4: Know the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation
From a charming Chinese cheongsam to the beautiful Indian bindi, we love seeing cultural elements in fashion. Unfortunately, celebrities are often accused of cultural appropriation when they sport the aforementioned at festivals. (Remember the Vanessa Hudgens bindi fiasco at Coachella?) So, how can we show our love for ethnic cultures without being offensive? Gelwicks advises to be “aware of the origins of where certain trends come from and the cultures they are tied to”. Google is your best friend when it comes to this. The best way to approach this is to use your research and inspiration “as a launching point to create something that is unique to you” recommends Gelwicks.
Tip #5: Know the band that’s on your tee
If your reaction to someone coming up to you, pointing to your “smells like teen spirit” t-shirt and asking you if you like Nirvana is “what are you talking about?, you’re probably guilty of wearing band t-shirts because they’re ‘cool’ and not because you actually listen to them. Which isn’t a crime, but at a music festival, it may as well be.
Kendall and Kylie Jenner have come under fire in recent years for wearing t-shirts with rap legend’s face on them without allegedly knowing anything about them. So, to avoid being in their position, Gewicks suggests to “never, ever wear a band you’re not at least a little familiar with (this rule also applies to sports teams!). There are plenty of Beyonce and Britney Spears tees out there that are just as cute!”. On the other hand, Aoki doesn’t think that wearing a t-shirt of an artist you don’t listen to is a big deal. “A person can wear whatever makes them happy. Just because you don’t connect to an artist for their music doesn’t mean there isn’t a connection elsewhere. Maybe it’s more about what the artist represents to the community, their look, or maybe it’s just dope merch. Either way, I would love if you wore my merch, regardless of whether or not you listen to my music,” he adds.
It’s Sophie’s choice, really. Our recommendation, don’t go looking for trouble where there’s none and only wear a band or artist t-shirt if you actually listen to them.
Tip #6: Wear these shoes to match your jeans
We love denim as much as the next person, but we’re so over skinny jeans—they don’t give us enough ventilation on hot days. We’re leaning more towards the baggy boyfriend jeans, flared jeans, torn up 501s, bell bottoms, wide legs and bootcuts. But finding the right type of shoe to go with it is a nightmare. This is where Dani Michelle comes in. Her top pick for wide legged and bell bottom jeans are high heels because it “helps lengthen the leg and clean the line so that the jeans falls super straight.” But if you’re a flats kinda gal, she suggests a pointed flat to “elevate the look to not feel to casual or masculine.”
And according to Gelwicks, platforms sneakers are your best bet when it comes to wearing flared jeans and “they are easy to walk in, they boost them up a bit and they also add a little flare.” Bonus? These tips work great with denim shorts as well.
Tip #7: Experiment
No good festival outfit is complete without a little experimentation. Afterall, the whole point is to have fun. Whether it’s non-traditional fabrics like PVC, extremely oversized pants or a leather harness, there’s no right or wrong. But there is a way to do it with flair.
If you’re planning on wearing a band tee (or any kind of graphic tee) as the base of your outfit, Aoki recommends to “go super chill with tore up denim shorts or dress down a business casual look with a slouchy blazer.”. It’s either or and no exceptions. However, if you feel like emulating the Pink Ladies from Grease with by sporting a leather ensemble, Jennifer Kassell, owner of Understated Leather, suggests to “throw on something comfortable and easy in between the leather pieces that feel like your true style, whether that’s a vintage t shirt or a soft feminine top.”
Going to music festival is as much about having fun as it is about being seen. But should that stop you from dressing in your favorite oversized streetwear getup à la Billie Eilish? The short answer is no. Aoki’s take on the matter is that “it’s never about what you’re wearing or about how feminine you look.” Instead, “it’s all about how you wear it. A girl with confidence and swag can rock anything, even mens’ fits could look dope if she feels good wearing it.”
Tip #8: Curate your accessories
Kassell recommends a “good quality leather bag” because it’s “always suitable for all climates.” She also advises that we go for the Lady Luck belts (as worn by BLACKPINK’s Rosé) because they are “seasonless and perfect for all climates as a stand out accessory.”
According to cult British jewellery designer, Monica Vinader, bracelets and pendant necklaces are “ideal for layering to create a versatile look ready to wear with multiple outfits.” She also recommends to “try experimenting with mixing different metals”.
Tip #0: Twist trends on its head
According to Gelwicks, “a lot of people really gravitate towards bright and bold colors for festivals, especially now that neon is such a big trend. I think a way to still have fun with that but keep it a little different is to experiment with more pastel colors. For example, a full pastel yellow look! It’s still playful and fun but with a bit more refinement.” And since we’re on the theme of colours, try to avoid wearing all black à la Elvira.
Also, don’t feel pressured to wear cute sneakers or sandals. Do like Michelle who says, “I love a great ankle boot at a festival. I think that with summer looks, people are always inclined to do nice sandals and something really light. For me, I like a boot that feels tougher and more effortless.”
On that note, we’ll leave you with this quote from Steve Aoki: “I think it’s important to remember that you’re going to be running from stage to stage, dancing, sweating, and who knows what else! So, please remember that comfort and convenience comes before style. This way, you can have a good time without thinking too much about your clothes. And stay hydrated!