Posted by: Necci – May 09, 2012
The onset of May and the passing of the infamous Coachella have heralded that music festival season is truly in full swing. Perhaps you’re planning to enjoy local festivals this year, are venturing towards greener pastures for your musical experiences, or are such a festival lover that your plans include all of the above. Despite your plans, what to wear will undoubtedly be a consideration and for some, a bit of a challenge.
I think it’s great that a lot of clothing vendors have capitalized on the popularity of festivals to push their products, notably the styles one may term as “bohemian.” They create “lookbooks” describing how you can style yourself for festivals. If you’re unfamiliar with the term lookbook, these are a simple visual guide for the benefit of your sartorial planning. As an avid follower of fashion, I often look to these for inspiration, but as of late I’ve reached a point of oversaturation. In fact, I may pull my hair out if I get ONE more email spread telling me what to buy for a music festival.
Just a few examples:
Rue la la (a website that does flash sales daily, usually on clothing of a higher than average price point): promoting a sale called “style inspired by music festival season.”
Who What Wear (a popular fashion blog that sends me daily email spreads with things to buy and street style photos): A MINIMUM of three spreads outlining “music festival fashion,” including one dedicated specifically to Coachella style.
Refinery 29 (one of my favorite blogs for fashion news and street style photos): an entire spread titled “how to Dress for Coachella, or any festival this season.” This spread suggested track shorts, including this $245 pair by Tibi:
Pardon my ignorance, but the last time I checked, track shorts were something one inherited from their high school cross country team, for free.
Fashionologie (a popular fashion blog): highlighted Free People’s “Festival Shop” as a great source for festival style inspiration. Take this look, for example, the entirety of which would cost you $224, almost $100 more than a 3 day pass to Wakarusa:
First of all, if you’ve ever been to a summer festival, you know that you don’t want to wear anything expensive to the event. Music festivals involve a concentrated amount of people camping in one area. They are dusty, they are hot, you will maybe bathe ONCE if you’re lucky. I showered once while at Bonnaroo, a shower that required a two hour wait in the boiling sun, cost me $10, and the effects of which wore off by the time I walked from the shower stand back to my camping spot.
So, from one fashion lover to the next, here is the deal. I’m fully in support of looking cute at a festival, but I absolutely cannot find it reasonable for one to blow all their cash on clothes that are going to get sweaty as hell and potentially ruined. (Unless you’re one of the chosen ones who spends their time in VIP tents at festivals--which means, to me, one of three things: a; you’re a model, b: you’re so rich that you can afford these clothes and have a flippant attitude towards wearing a gorgeous $300 dress just once, c: you’re working for some sort of music company or promotions agency, in which case you’re just lucky and i envy your kingly status in this setting.)
I’d suggest taking an old pair of cutoffs, NOT paying $150+ for J brands or AGs, as cute as they may be. Rumors here in Richmond has, in my opinion, an amazing selection of jorts (I managed to score some awesome lavender ones last week--sorry guys, I’d be jealous too).
WhoWhatWear suggested these babies for a festival:
They’re made by Ksubi and retail for $180. Yes, that is $180 for less than a square foot of torn up denim! You can find an identical pair at a thrift store for about $10, or take a pair of scissors to some old jeans FOR FREE.
Bring shoes you can walk and dance in, ones whose potential loss or ruination will not prove heartbreaking. I’d suggest something like Chacos that stay strapped to your feet, are waterproof (it DOES rain, people), and essentially indestructible. If you don’t want to splurge on Chacos or Tevas, go with cheap flip flops you can toss at the end of the weekend. Do NOT, as per the suggestion of Refinery 29, sport this pair of $1,290 studded Chloe booties to a show on Brown’s Island:
These are gorgeous shoes, at the top of my fantasy wish list, but if you think they’re appropriate to wear to a festival, you’ve likely lost your mind.
Next on my list would be an old bathing suit top and/or some bandeau tops, especially if you’re going to a southern festival, like Wakarusa or Bonnaroo. Bandeaus are great for layering or wearing alone. American Apparel sells them for $16, Top Secret and Hanky Panky for upwards of $37. This one only costs $3.50 at Forever 21:
One should also bring some regular knit type shirts for when the sun goes down, or if you’re someone who doesn’t care to run around half-nakey like myself. The dominant inclination of most ladies is to dress in a “hippie” fashion. I understand, you’re thinking, “I’m at a festival! I want to look like I’m on Grateful Dead tour, yet with a modern twist! Bring on the body paint!” I don’t blame you. Playing dress up is fun, and has proven to be one of my hobbies with the greatest longevity and staying power--we’re talking since the age of 3. If you enjoy the bohemian look, clothes made by lines like Free People or Mara Hoffman, I’d suggest scouring Forever 21 for some great ikat prints, crochet tops, and some neon accessories that are fun to wear and oh so trendy right now (AND may not be in style this time next year, if that’s your concern). Another choice from Forever 21. This crochet top retails for $19.80:
Go to vintage stores, check out sales, or go with the do-it-yourself for cheap option. This guarantees you won’t drain your bank account, can still enjoy putting together fun outfits, and will be way more at ease when some asshole spills beer all over you because Bassnectar just “made his face melt.”
It is undeniable that festivals have reached a greater popularity, and have grown in recent years. I attended the sold out Bonnaroo last year, which had over 85,000 attendees. I kid you not, it seemed that every upper middle class kid between the ages of 18 and 25 descended upon this wasteland of a field in the middle of nowhere Tennessee. If you’re planning on attending this festival, which has, in my opinion, one of the best lineups of the summer, take heed: It will be hot, it will be humid, and the grounds will be dusty in a way that evokes the dust bowl. The crowds will make you feel like chattel whenever you try to go from one major area of the festival grounds to another. All in all, you’ll see great music, but be prepared to get filthy and take part in a reenactment of the Bataan Death March (too soon?). Does this sound like something you’d want to do in this $282.00 maxi dress?
In the end, if your clothes and shoes aren’t borderline destroyed by the end of a festival, you probably didn’t have enough fun. With all of the money you save shopping smart, you can hit more festivals and have fun not worrying about your clothing. Go scour some vintage stores, use your creativity, and most importantly, enjoy the music.
By Kristina Headrick