Written by Amanda June
Incredible line-ups are starting to drop all over the place this week, and the prospect of festival season is as delightful to my mind as an ice cold mimosa is to my lips. I don’t know about y’all, but my excitement is starting to get the best of me, and I’d love to time-travel to a summer night, at twilight, dancing to one of my favorite bands with my best friends.
If you’re as stoked as I am, the next few weeks might be a good time to break out your favorite festival clothes and accessories and take inventory. I certainly sacrificed a few of my favorite items to the Festival Gods last summer. Side note, I hope someone out there is enjoying my Chacos as much as I did—you deserve them more than I do because I still haven’t learned to keep my shoes on my feet. In honor of the fun to come, I’ve put together this list of practical summer wardrobe “must-haves” with the help of some OG festival faeries.
1. According to the sparkly-unicorn and merch girl extraordinaire, Jay Beyer (who you may recognize from her gorgeous ever changing rainbow hair) acquiring a fanny pack is a must. Without contest, she and our panel of festival pro’s agreed that variations of the fanny pack will change your life at a festival. Whether you’re raging all day, slinging merch, or working hospitality, a belt that fits all your necessities will keep you happy and hands free, and it will ensure you don’t loose your shit when you’re galavanting about and dancing late night. You can likely find a vintage variation, from the 80’s, at your local thrift store, but for a more bohemian variety, check out the booths at basically every festival. A lot of them are hand made and one of a kind, which means they’re a little pricey, so make sure you buy one on day one before you spend all your money on party favors.
2. Don’t leave home without the perfect hoody. Festival weather is unpredictable. No matter the season, even mid summer when it’s 90 degrees during the day, a surprise rain might pop up and cool everything down when the sun goes down. Layers are key! Music photographer Amanda Siedner of Amanda Sandwicch Photography recommends the Melanzana High Loft hoody. “It’s great for cold nights, light in weight, very warm, and fuzzy. Great for hugs and being pet” said Amanda. In addition, it’s “Also, handmade by a small family owned company, made [in] Leadville, Co., and the people are paid appropriate wages.”
3. Hats hats hats! Whether you’re more of a floppy hat festival princess or a heady flat bill wearing babe, you gotta have a hat. The sun can be extremely harsh mid summer, so protect your face from the elements and look fabulous doing it. Whatever your style, incorporate a hat. If you like a wide brim hat, consider attaching a small cord to it so it can hang around your neck or tie on your bag. Snapbacks are awesome cause they can be attached to a purse or backpack. Even so, make sure it’s not your favorite hat covered with your most prized hat pins. Ask yourself, “Will I cry if I loose this hat?” If the answer is yes or maybe, wear a different hat.
4. Shoes. I am that obnoxious diva that brings 5 pairs of shoes to every festival. I usually only end up wearing two of them. First: a pair of Chacos or Tevas, some kind of waterproof sandal that you can hose off if they get dusty or muddy, and that you can’t kick off easily (although if you’re anything like me, you’ll find a way.) Chacos are cool, cause you can wear the same pair forever. If they break, you can send them back to the company for repairs. You’ll also need some kind of close-toed shoes. I prefer going to thrift store and finding a cute pair of comfortable ankle boots. They’re going to get wrecked, so don’t go buy a brand new pair. You could also go for a lightweight tennis shoe, like a KED or a Converse. Major style points if they have a little platform. When packing shoes, ask yourself “Will I be comfortable dancing in these shoes for 48 hours straight?” If the answer is yes, pack those bitches.
5. For water and mixed drinks on the go bring some type of reusable liquid holding device. I’ve always brought one of those aluminum metal bottles with a clip but those are super heavy when filled and will really weigh down your fanny pack. My favorite bohemian goddess/costume designer/make-up artist/stylist Nessa brilliantly suggested bringing a little tin or plastic mug with a carabiner to attach to your stuff. That way when you stumble into the wrong campsite but it turns out they’re awesome people and you become best friends forever, they can make you a mixed drink even though they’re all out of solo cups. Bonus: you aren’t creating waste, and you’ll always be able to chug some water when you pass the free water zone.
6. My personal festival wardrobe go to? A cute moisture wicking bodysuit. While these can sometimes make it difficult to pee, a lot of new ones have snaps down below for easy access. I have big boobs, and I envy the girls who can rock the cute little lacy bralettes with their high wasted shorts and look fabulous. Unfortunately, that will never be my reality, but I’m definitely not trying to wear a bra with underwire and deal with boob-sweat cause I just don’t need those bad vibes in my life. A nice lightweight body suit made from quick dry fabric keeps my girls looking and feeling good all day and night and can be paired with all kinds of bottoms when the need for a wardrobe change before the headliner comes on strikes me. Also, if a surprise midday storm happens you can strip off all the extras and dance in the rain, then lay in the sun for ten minutes afterwords and you’re good to go. I’m currently lusting after this one from Wolven Threads.
7. Sunglasses are essential. I see people raging all day without shades and I don’t know how they do it. Protect your eyes people! Bring a few pairs, and don’t bring your favorite ones. Again, it’s really easy to lose sunnies while partying. Plus, you’ll have a pair to share when Bae forgets hers and is super hungover but you need to motivate her to get her ass to the sunrise set. There is no better way to hide dark circles, go make-up free, and look adorable in all the photos.
8. Always bring a rain coat. Even a little camping poncho tucked permanently in the pocket of your festival bag can be a life saver.
9. High wasted shorts or a cotton body-con mini skirt. You can pair either of these items with anything: your bodysuit, a cute crop top, your favorite band t-shirt, pasties and body paint, literally they’ll go with whatever. I usually end up wearing the same skirt with at least three different outfits.
10. I’m sure I don’t even need to say this because we all already know: leggings. Everyone needs to have leggings with them at all times in my opinion. Throw them on under your outfit when it gets chilly late night, or pass out in your hammock in them. They are low key, easily packable, and your butt looks amazing in them.
Festival fashion is all about being fun and functional. At festivals we can express ourselves how ever our sparkly hearts’ desire and wear things that we might not be able to pull off in our every day life. Load on the accessories, but always make sure you’ve got the basics on hand. One of my personal festival fashion icons, Heather Feather said it best, “The most important clothes to bring are ones you feel awesome in, and are comfortable. The ones that fit you well and you can walk out of your tent, and not even need to look in a mirror ( you don’t have one any way) and know you look AMAZING. Confidence is key. Also, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!” True that, sister.
Have fun and happy festival daydreams, babes!