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What Do I Wear There? Music Festivals

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What to wear to a music festival

The change from Winter to Spring brings me considerable excitement each year, as Spring is by far my favorite season for fashion. Spring style has always appealed to my inner “Penny Lane” (from Almost Famous), making me want to go for loose hair, floaty floral pieces, lace accents, and natural makeup.

Of course, my “Almost Famous” fantasy would not be complete without a fabulous soundtrack of live music enhanced by the enthusiastic chorus of singing fans. That’s why I love attending music festivals during the spring and summer–from the relaxed, fun atmosphere to the amazing live music to the plethora of Satorialist-worthy street style fashionistas, everything about them is so inspiring!

With South by Southwest, one of the biggest festivals of the season, already underway as I write, and many more to come shortly, I thought this would be a perfect time to give some advice on how to dress for outdoor music festivals/concerts. I decided to divide the looks up by weather to address any concerns about what to wear if you are attending one of these festivals in rain or shine.

Look One: What to Wear to a Music Festival in Cooler Weather

Outfit to wear to a music festival

Product Information: Tank: Lagarconne.com, Cardigan: Topshop.com, Jeans: Topshop.com, Flats: Ae.com, Sunglasses: Shop.nordstrom.com, Scarf: Musthaves.dk

The outdoor music festival season has already started, which, for many of us, will mean braving the residual winter weather AND the scorching spring/summer sun. This strange time of year can be extremely confusing to dress for.

To anticipate these issues, I tried to create an outfit loose and airy enough to keep you cool in a close crowd, while keeping you warm if there is still a bit of winter chill in the air. The overall theme of this look is definitely comfort, with slouchy boyfriend jeans, a loose tank, and knit cardigan providing a simple but stylish base. Add a dash of flair with a pair of comfy flats in a fun print!

Complete your comfy-cool look with sunglasses–a must at outdoor festivals when you’re lucky enough to have a sunny day–in a retro shape that will add a vintage feel to your outfit. Finally, a bright scarf will not only keep you warm but add color to your look.

Look Two: What to Wear to a Music Festival in Rainy Weather

What to wear to a concert in the rain

Product Information: Top: Topshop.com, Coat: Shopnastygal.com, Shorts: Topshop.com, Boots: Piperlime.gap.com, Scarf: Liberty.co.uk, Watch: Urbanoutfitters.com

For this look, I have to admit that I stole much inspiration from the attendees of last year’s Glastonbury Music Festival who braved warm, sticky, often rainy weather with seemingly effortless style.

For this outfit, I wanted to keep the fun, funky festival vibe going despite the prospect of gloomy weather. To do this, I went for details that would really brighten up the day!

I love the lace flowers on this slightly cropped top, which has a great “Almost Famous” vibe when combined with slightly high-waisted denim shorts. (Add tights or knee-socks on a cooler day.) To complete the bohemian look (and keep damp hair away from your face), use a colorful printed scarf as a headband.

For rain protection, I chose a lightweight, waterproof army green coat that fits into spring’s safari trend and a classic pair of black rain boots. Also, I added a watch, which is essential for a music festival in the rain, as you’re going to want to check the time to make sure you can see your favorite bands, but won’t want to get your cell phone wet. This watch is especially great because its chain detailing makes it double as an adorable bracelet.

Look Three: What to Wear to a Music Festival When it’s Hot and Sunny!

What to wear to a summer music festival in hot weather

Product Information: Tunic: My-wardrobe.com, Shorts: Topshop.com, Headband: Urbanoutfitters.com, Sandals: Piperlime.gap.com, Sunglasses: Forever21.com, Bracelets: Urbanoutfitters.com; Urbanoutfitters.com

This is my favorite look for a perfect sunny, warm festival day! The breezy, sheer pink tank creates a perfect girly, summery look when paired with faded floral print shorts, while lace-up gladiator sandals and some rope-and-chain bracelets add the perfect amount of a tough-chic style as well.

A headband will keep hair off your forehead (which is so important when it’s hot and sticky out), whether you want to go for the hippie vibe seen in the picture above or wear it as a traditional headband with your hair in a loose braid or bun. As I said above, sunglasses are a must, especially in super sunny weather, so go for an oversize pair to ensure your face is protected! If you’re feeling especially bohemian, add a fringe vest to this look for a 60’s Woodstock festival vibe.

More Music Festival Style Tips & Tricks

  • Makeup - The most important makeup advice I have is to wear SPF! I think a natural look is best for festivals since your makeup has to last all day, so stick to a tinted moisturizer with SPF, some waterproof mascara, and SPF-infused lip balm.
  • Beware of… – As much as I love rompers and leotards, they are not always the best choices for music festivals. Both will be problematic if you have to use the restroom during the day. Since most festivals only have outdoor Port-A-Pottys, removing your entire outfit to pee is not something you’ll want to do! Dresses are also something you may want to stay away from if you are planning on trying to crowd surf at your festival, as you do not want to give the audience a show of your own. Finally, go easy on the perfume in the morning, as the heat may exacerbate the aroma and you do not want to give yourself or those around you a headache.
  • Wear cheaper pieces – Crowded outdoor festivals are prime places for you to lose jewelry, have your shoes trampled on, and get your clothes dirty, so dress accordingly. I absolutely would not wear any favorite pieces, or anything valuable or irreplaceable!

What do you think?

Do you attend music festivals in the spring/summer season? Are there any you’re looking forward to this S/S? How do you usually dress for them? Any other tips on festival style? Let us know in the comments!

And if you have any “What Do I Wear There?” questions, leave them below. Yours may be featured in the next column!

Posted on on March 25, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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46 Responses to “What Do I Wear There? Music Festivals”

  1. 1
    March 25th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Nice one… I love festival fashion1 It’s all about sexy casual!

    Can’t wait for Roskilde Festival 2010!

  2. 2
    March 25th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    as somebody who has been to MANY music festivals and goes to properly enjoy the music (in other words – I get to the pit) I would heavily recommend sensible shoes.
    Sneakers like Converse or Vans or whatever are a must. Ballet pumps/sandals/wellies do not protect your toes from being trampled and are just not secure enough on your feet.
    If you are going to stand and the back and loll around, they work fine, but protect those toesies if you are planning on dancing!

  3. 3
    March 25th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Huge props for giving practical advice (re: the downsides of rompers/dresses) and a cute outfit example for each kind of weather! The beauty advice is also solid. This is probably one of my favourite “What do I wear there” posts because I learned lots of things I had never considered before.

  4. 4
    March 25th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Um I probably wouldn’t recommend wearing a headband like that to a sunny festival unless you want a really really fashionable tan line.

  5. 5
    March 25th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    As much as Id love to wear the Sunny Day Outift to a show, I feel like the open toed shoes are definitely a bad idea. With hundreds of people crammed into a tiny place, feet get stepped on way too often.

  6. 6
    March 25th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    This post was great! I just bought my ticket for Bonnaroo yesterday, and am already thinking about what to pack, even though it’s just under 2 months away. Thanks for the great ideas!!

  7. 7
    March 25th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Love this article! Festival fashion is definitely my favorite! ‘S why I always dress like that. (:

  8. 8
    March 25th, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I’d just finished looking at buying tickets for vans warped tour, when I saw this post. Nice timing huh? (:

    I have to disagree with almost all the shoes you suggested, though. Boots and flats aren’t good ideas- flats bc your feet WILL get stepped on, and boots bc you gotta run fast to get to your next show! A good pair of sneakers is where it’s at.

    But I love the tops you suggested, especially the one for rainy weather! Definitely my kind of style (:

  9. 9
    March 25th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    By far my favorite post. I love love love music festivals and I thought the advice was great, except for the sandals. Cute keds or some other casual shoe would work great, I go to Sasquatch!! Music festival every year and open toed shoes aren’t a good idea. Also, I would recommend a cross body bag or cute backpack so you dont have to worry about holding or losing your purse :))))))

  10. 10
    March 25th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Great post! I especially like the cooler weather outfit and the accessories of the rainy one.

    I’d love to see a What do I wear there? post for attending horse races/hunts. I live in Virginia and plan to attend one or two in April. :)

  11. 11
    March 25th, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    While these outfits are really cute and good ideas, I would never ever wear something delicate or open toed shoes to a festival. Sneakers all the way, god knows what you’ll be stepping in or who’s going to be stepping all over your feet, not to mention you’ll be standing all day.

  12. 12
    March 25th, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    great post on what to wear to festivals, i cant wait for the summer to come so i can go to a few!

  13. 13
    March 25th, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Awesome advice! I really like this article; the clothes are cute and it’s really informative.

    I really really want to go to lollapalooza this year… I’ve lived in chicago my whole life and never been! I guess we’ll see if I can afford it, haha.

  14. 14
    March 25th, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I love the outfits you picked out! I especially love the hot day outfit!

    I do disagree with all the shoe picks though. Flats and sandals will cause your feet to get crushed and boots are impractical for getting to the next shoe. Trust me, I went to warped tour last summer and I witnessed not only many girls with stepped on toes, but also missing flip flops!!

    I recommend slip on vans or converse. Any kind of shoe that will stay on your foot securely will definitely help.

    Also, to add to the beware of section I highly advise to NOT take a purse. Again, I took a little bag to carry my food/water/jacket in to warped tour and it got annoying to carry all day. I recommend either a small wristelt or just keeping things in a pocket or other safe place.

  15. 15
    March 25th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Great article! I am going to Coachella in 20 days and I been shopping for some cute outfits. This has def. inspired me

  16. 16
    March 26th, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I agree with Sasha… in fact I wouldn’t accessorize the hot and sunny outfit but try to wear something with a really detailed tank top so I don’t have to put anything else but the shorts, the sunglasses, comfy flip flops (cute ones please!) and a little bit of lip gloss so I avoid the REALLY awkward tan lines in my head, wrists and feet…

    The rest of the outfits are great (I’d personally wear them) and I LOVE the article, it’s really helpful!

    XO, E

  17. 17
    March 26th, 2010 at 1:44 am

    I’d def say wear look 2 all the way. Very chic, yet practical. Your toes will be safe, and if it rains, you’ll still be too hot to trot!

  18. 18
    March 26th, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Come to Denmark and see Jelling festival. I live in there and it is a small village, but the last weekend in may about 100.000 people come to the festival. I had been there since i was 7 years. I grew up with it and Elton John is coming this year!!

  19. 19
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Love this post. The tunic for #3 is way too pricey for a festival. Any suggestions on cheap alternatives?

  20. 20
    March 26th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I worked at my states biggest muscial for 2 years and I wore a dress almost everyday. I reccomend that if you get there early in the day and it’s cool outside, expect that situation change when the sun comes at full force and throngs of people show up. One time I stupidly wore a long sleeve shirt and shorts cause I had to show up at 7a.m. By 11 I had to buy a dress from one of the vendors and change in a port-a-potty >.< never again….

  21. 21
    March 26th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hey. looks are awesome, but I have another question in mind. I have a Metallica concert to attend in April and I dress just like any other normal girl. What do I wear THERE? Honestly, I have no idea, so any help/tips/ideas would be more than welcome.:)

  22. 22
    March 29th, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I’ve never really been into the whole ‘festival’ look. Even if I buy certain pieces from the look, I make it more classy or girly and less ‘country cool’. I wanted to ask as you’re studying in London, whether you could do a piece on ‘Dressing Like An American College Student’ for us people in the UK who read this blog. Fair enough, I have an idea, but it would be really cool if you could use examples of clothing from all UK stores so I’d get a chance to purchase everything! I know you’ve featured a few UK pieces but yeah, I read this blog because I love American fashion. It’s so much more casual than ours but relaxed and cool. I’m a huge American Eagle fan. :)

  23. 23
    March 30th, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    OMG thank you so much for this post.

    I have been wondering what I am going to wear to Bonnaroo this year.

    I heard it gets wild!!!

    Is anyone else going!?

  24. 24
    April 2nd, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Great ideas! I live in Austin, and SXSW is always fun. The most important lesson I learned from this year’s ACL fest was definitely to wear clothes you don’t mind getting muddy or wet if the weather changes 180 degrees in 10 minutes! Also, comfortable shoes are a must.

  25. 25
    May 23rd, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I disagree with the people leaving comments saying that sandals or other open toed shoes are a bad idea for a music festival. I have been to Coachella Music Festival in Indio, CA for two years in a row. It is extremely hot there and the warm weather outfit would be perfect for the festival. I feel like people have this idea that everyone steps on your toes like you are in a cattle call. During the day it is not crowded at all and there is no need to worry about getting your toes stepped on. At night, I wore sandals, and I still had no problem. You just have to be careful. And most people don’t even wear shoes, or if they do they wear sandals, so it’s not like you are getting stepped on by platforms or super heavy boots.

  26. 26
    February 26th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    The issue with sandals at festivals is NOT getting your feet crushed. the issue is that you must be comfortable with having your feet covered in mud, unknown liquids and other mushy substances. Not to mention the port o potties. they are often settled behind a slushy wet mud pit that you MUST step in to get to the toilet, then once you are in the toilet, the floor is often covered in a muddy liquid “substance”. girls, i wore sandals to a festival once, and i spent the entire time wondering when i would catch e coli from what was on my feet. whomever suggested the open toed sandals to a festival has obviously never been to a 4 day camping event.

  27. 27
    February 8th, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    clothing thatis loose and breathes well (organic fabrics) for tops and skirts/shorts for bottoms. a lot of the times, bikinis are acceptable too, with a cute wrap or something. shoes don’t really matter….. your feet can take it, I’ve never had a problem going barefoot. stick to perfume oils, they don’t give you a headache like regular perfumes do. and if a headband is worn, it should have a purpose (to keep you hair out of your face), not for fashion. purses can be problematic as well, having to carry them around… stick with a Kavu pack or a trend backpack/knapsack. Have a wonderful fest season, hope this helped!

  28. 28
    May 3rd, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I wouldnt recommend any accessories. No headbands, no bracelettes if you have your ears stretched beyond a 7’16th i wouldnt even wear plugs or earrings. Every outdoor concert has problems with losing things if you have less to lose its better. No purses put your money in your bra best place for it because you will always have it and it cant fall out. NO sandals, if your in the mix your toes will get crushed and crowd surfing they will come off and then you will have no shoes the rest of the day. Dont go bear foot either, no way is a porta potty sanitary enough for that. I recommend on hot days or Warped Tour wear a bikini top (Since they have slip n slides and cool off sprinklers) wear a light tank top. Sport shorts work really well or short leggings. Denim can rub you the wrong way at times especially if its short shorts. Sunscreen is your #1 accessory. Makeup will come off unless you have a good setting sray i suggest urban decay. Wear your hair up and out of the way i recommend a braid or a bun or if you wanna be cute braid your hair then wrap it like a bun. bring an extra hair tye and have fun at your show

  29. 29
    January 12th, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve been to Bonnaroo twice and found that carrying a backpack to be kind of annoying when you’re in a thick crowd. I just ordered a Kavu rope bag today and I think that it’s going to be the answer to my festival prayers! Just remember, if you’re carrying any kind of pack, keep your money in the inner zipper pocket. Folks can be sneaky, especially if they sense that you’ve been drinking and your back is to them. Make it as difficult as you can for them to take your cash unnoticed. As far as shoes go, I’m excited about wearing my Five Fingers to Roo this year too! I feel like I’m gathering cool stuff to wear and use for festivals pretty early, but it’s making me so excited!

  30. 30
    September 8th, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I have read so many posts regarding the blogger lovers but this article is actually a good post, keep it up.

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