By all accounts, music festivals are some of the best places to find fashion inspo, especially if you’re into using your clothes as a medium of self-expression. From the LED-studded, neon-splashed looks of Electric Daisy to the fringe and flower crowns at Bonnaroo, there’s no shortage of noteworthy styles on the festival circuit. But aesthetics are only part of the equation. You’ll be outdoors—most likely, in blistering heat—for two or three days straight, so practical, comfy dressing is crucial to your enjoyment. If you’re heading out to your first festival, here are some of the best tips to get you started.
- Dress for the Heat—It’s not an uncommon sight to see sweat-drenched concert-goers in the middle of the summer. In fact, it’s basically a guarantee June through September. The good news is that there are some awesome ways to stay cool so that the heat doesn’t get you down, such as:
- Wearing moisture-wicking clothing
- Wearing a visor or a sunhat
- Slathering on the sunscreen
- Going lightweight and loose-fitting
- Sporting a swimsuit beneath your clothes
- Wearing light-colored clothing
- Wearing sunglasses
- Where Possible, Rock Functional Accessories—There is simply no room for basic at the music festival, not even when it comes to your function-forward essentials. Jazz up everything, if possible, from your phone case to your water bottle. Why not sport a tricked-out vape that matches your personality or create a custom-embellished hat and sunglasses to showcase your style from head to toe? Get creative and everyone will take note.
- Wear Closed-Toe Shoes—Did you notice that we didn’t include sandals in the above list of cooler-downers? Here’s the thing: Sandals or flip-flops are great at deterring hot, sweaty feet—and no one likes hot, sweaty feet—but they’re also a pretty serious no-no in a crowd. When you’re packed in shoulder to shoulder for the main act (trust us, you will be), you don’t want to risk having your toes crushed by fellow concert-goers. Stick to sneakers, if possible, or closed-toe sandals. Skip the slides and flops.
- Go Backpack or Crossbody—This one’s pretty obvious, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. Never bring a handbag or a clutch to a concert. They’re awkward to carry, and when you’re also keeping track of your phone, water bottle and sunglasses, you don’t need anything else in your hands taking up space and attention. Invest in a good hands-free tote. You can’t go wrong with a roomy crossbody or backpack. Make it all your own with some custom embellishments, patches or pins (we’re crazy about the enamel pin trend right now).
- Know the Vibe of the Festival—Chances are, if you’ve already gotten tickets, you have some idea of what to expect vibe-wise at the festival. With that said, it’s a good idea to take a deep dive into the event’s social media to see how people historically dress for the show. If it’s an EDM festival, you’ll want to get in the spirit by sporting lots of neon, fur and rainbows. If it’s Afropunk, you’re going to need to come up with something eclectic and eye-catching.
- Don’t Wear or Pack Any Valuables—One important rule of thumb for festival attendees: Don’t bring or wear anything that you wouldn’t be okay losing forever (except for maybe your phone). Leave behind any expensive jewelry and watches and don’t sport your most expensive purse or backpack. Remember, too, that the weather can change in an instant, so don’t wear any materials you don’t want to get wet. If you’re only going for the day, consider renting a locker to keep your stuff safe while you frolic.
- Stick to Antimicrobial Fabrics—A little festival funk is to be expected after several consecutive days in the sun, but do your best to dress in a manner that will keep you feeling fresh. Some fabrics are naturally antimicrobial (such as bamboo) or have been treated with antimicrobial coatings to help them resist bacteria that can cause odors. Other fabrics are natural bacteria magnets (aka stink magnets), such as wool. If you’ve got a choice, try to wear odor-resistant clothes. You’ll be doing a service to yourself as well as everyone around you.
- Show Your Personality—Here’s the coolest thing about festival fashion: anything goes. You may not even have to wear anything at all (as long you cover up with a little body paint, that is). But if you’re dressing within the parameters of the festival’s rules and choose outfits that make you feel good, you can and should go as crazy and creative as you want. Paint your face, braid glowsticks in your hair, wear a costume. Whatever helps you show your big personality is a winner in our book! And, with so few opportunities like this in life, we say go for it!
Fusing Practicality and Personality
All in all, you want to prioritize two important factors while you’re formulating your fest fashion: 1. Practicality and 2. Personality. Wear clothes that don’t get in your way while you’re dancing, hula-hooping, jamming and exploring, but also make sure you feel completely and totally yourself. With a little bit of planning and some creativity, you’ll be able to come up with an ensemble that ticks all of these boxes and more. The result will be a pleasurable festival experience you’ll remember forever.