The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Music Festivals: What to Wear & How to Prepare

Get your festival fashion game on point with our ultimate guide to music festival outfits and packing tips.

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Outdoor music festival tips: What to wear and how to prepare

Outdoor music festivals have always been a rite of passage for young adults.

Flower children in the ’60s packed their bags and headed to San Francisco. Twenty-somethings from across the country hopped on Greyhounds and traveled to Catskills for Woodstock in the summer of ’69, while Deadheads roamed across the country well into the ’80s. With the ’90s came a surge in well-organized, blockbuster music festivals outside of major cities in the US, which were embraced by yuppies, grunge kids, and new hippies alike.

Today, music festivals are more common than ever. Coachella in California starts this weekend, and there are dozens of festivals scheduled this summer across the country. A while back, we told you about Bonnaroo, Hangout, and the Electric Daisy Festival, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. From Lollapolooza to Governor’s Ball to Outside Lands and more, the options (and locations) are plentiful.

If you’re on the fence about shelling out the cash for one of these, think of it like this — you’re never going to be younger, have more energy, or have fewer responsibilities than you do RIGHT NOW.

{RELATED POST: The Best Music Festival Outfits for Women}

These tickets are not cheap, but — to me — they are totally worth forgoing a few weekends out, skipping some trips to the mall, or picking up a couple of extra shifts at work. An outdoor music festival is something that you will remember and tell stories about for the rest of your life. And let’s face it — once you have a full-time job, a pet, and a family of your own, you can’t exactly skip town and go on a three-day campout as easily as you could before.

Embrace your youth and seize your summer. Do something awesome and memorable now while you still have the chance!

Girl at a summer music festival in front of a ferris wheel

Having more than a few music festivals under my belt at this point, I’ve done tons and tons of research on how to stay safe and comfortable while having as much fun as you possibly can at these events. I’ve compiled it all and am thrilled to share with you some of the best tips and suggestions for enjoying an outdoor music festival.

At the end of this post, be sure to comment — especially if you have experience with these sort of concerts — and give some good advice to your fellow CF gals. We’re a community here, so don’t hold back if you have an awesome story or some good advice to share!

General Music Festival Outfit Ideas

Of course, your ideal music festival outfits will depend on the temperature, location, and even the genre of music found at the event. Consider these looks as a good starting place to get you inspired!

Rock Cowboy Boots with a Cool Dress

You’ll feel like a modern-day cowgirl in this simple look that’s sure to turn heads.

Try a Crochet Crop Top & Denim Skirt Combo

Crochet and denim? Festival season never looked so good.

A Cute Dress & Boots

Simple yet stylish and ready to dance the night away.

Rock a Band Tee & a Midi Skirt

Style your favorite band tee with a feminine twist. Add sandals, boots, or sneakers and you’re set!

Country Music Festival Outfit Ideas

Pair a Romper with Cowboy Boots & a Matching Hat

Yeehaw, festival season just got a whole lot cuter.

Wear Tons of Metallics for a Glam Vibe

*Shine bright like a diamond*

Take Inspiration from a Country Star & Go All Out

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Channel your inner Carrie Underwood and have all eyes on you!

Keep it Simple with All Black

Can’t decide what to wear? You can never go wrong with all black everything.

Coachella Outfit Ideas

Try a Kimono with Shorts & a Crop Top

You’ll be feeling flowy and free in this festival kimono.

Mix Bold Prints & Patterns

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Can’t decide which print to wear? Why not wear them all?

Nod to Your Favorite Fandom

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If you have a favorite character or fandom, rock it proudly and make new friends at the festival!

Make a Statement in All White

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For a clean and crisp festival look, go for an all-white outfit with and have fun with your accessories!

Lollapalooza Outfit Ideas

Try a Colorful Two-Piece Set

For a fun and playful festival outfit, try a colorful two-piece set like a crop top and matching shorts paired with some strappy sandals or boots.

Try Overalls for a Trendy Vibe

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For a trendy and comfortable festival outfit, I love the look of a pair of denim overalls with a graphic tee and some sneakers.

Mix Colorful Wide Leg Pants with a Cute Crop Top

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I love the look of these brightly colored pants! They make the outfit and will get you tons of compliments.

Pair a Slinky Dress with Sneakers

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You’ll be comfortable and stylish in this slinky dress and sneakers combo.

Keep it Simple with a Crop Top, Skirt, and Colorful Sneakers

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If you want to show some skin while also feeling super comfy, I love this outfit idea for your next summer music festival.

7 Packing Tips and Considerations for Outdoor Music Festivals

Summer concert

1. Be prepared for all kinds of weather.

I know this probably a no-brainer, but I can’t think of an easier way to ruin your trip than to not have the right clothes with you. I know you smart girls will obviously check the weather forecast, but be sure to bring a pair of leggings, a hoodie, shoes that won’t get ruined in the rain, and an anorak. That way, you’ll be covered for any sort of surprises.

Also, sunscreen is completely non-negotiable. Oftentimes, the days with the most perfect, breezy weather lead to the worse sunburns because you don’t feel the sun roasting your skin. A swimsuit, flip flops, and a wide-brimmed hat seem like good ideas, too!

2. Have a plan for looking fabulous.

Sure, I understand that at these festivals, you spend all day (and possibly all night) outside. That said, ignoring my hygiene and appearance for four whole days is more than I can handle. Here are the best tips that I rounded up for staying fresh at festivals:

  • Bring cash for showers. A lot of campsites have locker room-style showers you can use for $5-$10 a pop. I don’t know about you, but to me this seems totally worth the cash. You might want to wear a pair of flip flops and your swimsuit while you shower too, just in case! Budget for this as part of your financial plan for your trip.
  • Pick up some bio-degradable shampoo. I’ve heard that at some nature-centric shows (like Bonnaroo, for instance) you’re allowed to wash up in swimming streams as long as your products aren’t toxic to the environment. Sure it’s not ideal, but it seems like it could be an awesome way to freshen up greasy, sweaty hair in a pinch. Add some leave-in conditioner or scrunch your hair with salt spray, and you’ll be ready to go!
  • If you hate going to bed feeling sticky, baby wipes will be your new best friends. They’re the perfect way to swipe the grime away from your neck, underarms, forehead, feet, and more. Bring a full pack to leave at your campsite, then pack a few singles in plastic baggies to bring with you during the day.
  • This sounds pretty crazy, but seems like it’s worth a try. If you want to wash your face, but don’t have access to a sink, pour water into an upside down Frisbee and use it to rinse. Genius! Also, I’m sure that you could probably get away with brushing your teeth using a water bottle to rinse as well.
  • Remember your old standbys from home, dry shampoo and makeup primer. Dry shampoo will make even the dirtiest hair last another day or two (see our post on the best dry shampoos), while a good makeup primer will keep any makeup you have on from melting all over your face. I know some gals love to go makeup free, but I’m just not one of them!
  • While we’re on the subject of makeup, leave as much at home as you possibly can. You want to stick to things you can apply quickly and easily, and not bring anything that at high risk for melting. Personally, I usually try to survive the weekend with Chapstick, highlighting powder, waterproof mascara, and eyeliner, but to each her own!
  • This is obvious, but double check to make sure you have hair ties, deodorant, contact solution, medications, and any other essentials you think you might need.
  • Again, do not forget sunscreen! This will probably be the most important thing you pack all weekend.

Although I’ve done plenty of research, I’m not an expert on this subject, even after a few festivals. If you have any good music festival beauty tips to share with the rest of us, please leave a comment and the end of this post and tell us!

Fashion bloggers at Coachella
Fashion bloggers are a fixture at Coachella | Pacific Coast News

3. Pack smart.

Now isn’t the time to bring that Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote you got for graduation — fancy or designer items will make you and your campsite a target for theft. Other things to keep in mind:

  • Only bring clothes that you wouldn’t be devastated if you lost or accidentally ruined.
  • Be sure to think about comfort first. I know that you want to wear that adorable crocheted halter top you just bought, but would you really want to spend all day tugging at your uncomfortable strapless bra?
  • Double-check that your shoes won’t give you blisters, your shorts don’t chafe your legs, and the tops your wear don’t require constant adjustment.
  • It would probably be wise to have bandages, feminine products, aspirin, granola bars, Gatorade, and a couple of extra water bottles tucked in your bags as well.
  • See our list of music festival essentials for a few more must-have items, plus in-depth explanations for why you need them.

4. Have your essentials with you at all times.

Carry a small backpack, a cross-body purse, or even a fanny pack with you during the day and use it to store your cell phone, camera, cash, ID, keys, and anything else that’s crucial with you. (Here’s our guide to exactly what to pack in your bag for a music festival.)

Your regular purse won’t work — you’ll want to have your hands free, and not risk accidentally setting your bag somewhere and forgetting about it. I hear that these concerts are generally very peaceful and safe — most people are just there to listen to music and have a great time. But, at the same time, it’s important to be prepared and cognizant of the people around you. Speaking of which…

Girls holding hands and wearing friendship bracelets at a music festival

5. Safety first!

Any event that draws thousands of people will attract a handful of shady characters, but you’re at an even higher risk considering that many of these shows are overnight events, and, well, many people you encounter will be using alcohol or drugs. It’s super-important that you use the buddy system and stay very aware of your surroundings. Here are a few general rules to follow:

  • Concert festivals are a great place to meet people, but don’t go back to another person’s campsite without one of your friends.
  • Be careful about wandering too far away from main areas, and schedule specific meeting times for your group in case your cell phone dies.
  • Don’t carry too much cash with you, and be sure not to flash it around at vendors.
  • Don’t accept food or drinks from people you don’t know. If you start to feel weird or sick, tell a friend or security guard immediately and have them take you to the first aid tent.
  • Remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

6. Beware of wearing the wrong things….

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. If you do wear a dress and want to crowd surf, wear bike shorts underneath. (One of our music festival outfits below includes a dress, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule, just something to keep in mind.)

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.

7. Embrace the experience.

You’ll never be able to duplicate an experience like an outdoor concert festival. Be sure to explore all aspects and really soak up the whole event. Meet new people. Join a yoga session or Frisbee game. Participate in an interactive art expo, learn to play hacky sack, or enjoy a hippie drum circle. We’re young and fun, and need to do these cool things while we still can. Don’t worry about how you look or what people will think. Just squeeze the juice out of your weekend and make this experience the best it can be.

At festivals across the country and around the world, fashion is quickly becoming almost as big as the music itself. Before putting together your killer outfits, however, it’s important to make sure you have all the right supplies.

Music Festival Essentials

Here are 9 music festival essentials to keep you comfortable, safe, and cool while still looking fabulous. 

As fun as it is to let your inner bohemian gypsy goddess shine, there are several items that need to be on your packing list way before your crochet maxi dress and floral romper. 

1. Water

While this may seem obvious (hopefully), you can honestly never have too much water at a summer music festival. Even though I’ve been to Bonnaroo three times, I always wish that I had packed more water in my backpack after leaving camp for the day. Lesson learned: always pack more than you think you’ll need, plus a few extra bottles. 

2. Sunscreen

Another no brainer, but like water, it’s kind of impossible to over-do it with sunscreen when you’re constantly outside and in the sun for an entire weekend. 

Make sure to apply it everywhere (the tops of your ears, the backs of your legs, the tops of your feet, etc.); sun burns at music festivals are a whole new level of discomfort. Hats and sunglasses are also super-important, so don’t forget those either! 

Music festival

3. Dry Shampoo

This stuff is seriously a lifesaver at festivals. I hate the feeling of dirty hair, and with limited washing options at festivals, nothing comes closer to a full lather, rinse, and repeat than a can of good dry shampoo. There are many options to choose from, but the ones from Batiste and Dove are my favorites.

4. Baby Wipes

Baby wipes for your body are just as important and essential as dry shampoo for your hair. After a day full of sweating mixed with the dirt and grime of being outside, you’re going to feel pretty gross.

I would advise bringing a lot of these because the wipes are pretty tiny compared to your entire body, and you’re going to want to use them multiple times a day. It’s also a good idea to invest in wipes just for your face as well, especially if you plan on wearing any sort of makeup while you’re there. 

5. Deodorant

Pretty obvious, but it would truly be a shame to accidentally leave something as important as this behind. You’re going to be sweating a lot, and you might not have the luxury of showering at your festival; long story short, do not forget to pack this

6. Toilet Paper

Yes, there will be portable toilets at your festival, and yes, they will (hopefully) contain toilet paper. But, after hours of use and thousands of people going in and out of them every day, there are bound to be sanitation issues going on at some point.

A good rule of thumb is to pack at least one roll of TP for every day you’ll be there. Keep a roll in your backpack at all times and you’ll always be good to go (literally)!

7. Hand Sanitizer

Portable toilets, thousands of strangers, being outside 24/7… just trust me, you need it. 

Music festival girl

8. Misting Fan 

I never brought one of these to Bonnaroo until the third year that I went, and let me tell you, it 100% changed the game. You’ll be standing in line in the hot sun a lot, and spots in the shade are sometimes really difficult to come by during shows and down-time. Having a misting fan with you at all times is a heavenly luxury that you should definitely invest in. 

9. Rain Boots

Depending on the weather, you may not use these at all, or you may use them the entire time. It’s always best to be prepared, though, because walking around all day in the mud wearing sandals or flip-flops is incredibly uncomfortable! Having these on hand just in case is well worth the small amount of extra space they’ll take up in your tent or car. 

Stories or Tips? Please Share Them!

What music festivals have you been to before? Where are you going this year? What unusual items did you wish you had packed, and what did you pack that you ended up not using? What is the best live show you’ve ever been to? How did you keep smelling fresh and looking great over the weekend?

We want to know any tips or tricks you might have for us newbies. Please leave a comment and tell us your thoughts on summer concerts. Can’t wait to hear what you girls have to say!

6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Music Festivals: What to Wear & How to Prepare”

  1. My boyfriend and I buy travel-size body wash and little loofas for Firefly. Perfect for washing your body at your campsite with a water bottle. That plus dry shampoo save you from having to pay for showers if you don’t want to spend that much on water!

  2. I’ll be going to Watershed by myself this year. Someone told me to freeze a bunch of water bottles to put in the cooler. They act as ice packs, and you’ll need them. I thought it was a great idea to share.

  3. I like to wear skirts at festivals and always carry an extra hair tie to tie my skirt up when using the gross port-a-potties. Fanny pack is the way to go – no matter how “nerdy” it may seem…you’ll be happy to be practical and hands free and it’s always safely on you not to get lost or stolen…especially great if you like to play hacky-sac. 🙂

  4. Love this article! I am going to my first music festival this summer and am doing tons of research as well. TomorrowWorld in Georgia! Romper, as some other folks have said, wouldn’t be ideal bc it will be difficult going to the bathroom. Also, bug spray wouldn’t be a bad idea either! Hope you have fun at your festivals!

  5. Sorry, but wearing rompers to all day music fests=worst idea ever. Remember how annoying it is to have to pee in them in a regular bathroom? Imagine that…in a port-a-potty


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