Picture this: a balmy summer’s Friday afternoon in mid-August, the mild temperatures signalling the nearing end of summer, the creeks sprouting up into walking paths nearby the small village of Bethel. Traffic jams eight miles long etching onto the grassy plains and an ominous sky overhead, deluging onto the people. Their hackneyed plaid shirts, fringed waistcoats and bell-bottom jeans. This was the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival, it served to bring many rebellious trends into the mainstream, and many music festivals today still do the same.
Nowadays, even festivals have become a marketplace to flaunt and cultivate personal style, bringing a new focus to the fashion side of festivals, making what you wear surprisingly important. But is it really? When at the least half of the people that you’re being crushed by in the mosh pit are drunk, is what you wear that significant? Similar to formal affairs, festivals have an albeit, loose-knit set of dress codes where you can have an unrestrained opportunity to explore a youthful facet of your style.
There are a few basic building blocks to constructing a fool-proof festival get-up, the ensemble you create must be able to survive all weather conditions, from torrid sunshine to never-ending rain and casual enough that you would not mind getting a little muddy. Here’s our guide to festival style:
The foundation of a raw, boastable festival style lies in the structurally sounds t-shirt. Unsurprisingly, a band t-shirt is the most safe approach to choosing festival attire, with authentic rock tees easily sourced from vintage markets and reworked editions available from outlets such as ASOS or Topman. ACDC, Nirvana and the Rolling Stones are iconic bands with an age-old appeal.
If tees with a rockability flair aren’t for you, t-shirts that adopt urban street prints – Vans, Obey, Converse et cetera – can make for rebellious alternatives. On the flip-side to logo tees, embracing pattern and texture effects can be another way to channel your style. With major exotic animal prints, alongside ombré and acid wash effects, being ideal for festivals which call for brash statements of individuality.
Shirts are another way to design a sturdy base for an outfit, but unlike the t-shirt, the shirt is sharper and will aid in creating a refined silhouette. Buttoned, left open aloft, buttoned to the top to make an air tie, wrapped around the waist; there are a myriad of ways to wear a shirt in a festival setting. Bold graphic prints and Hawaiian florals will help slew together an updated look.
Wearing a long sleeve shirt may prove to be the better option for summer festival wear; when the temperatures warm up, you can roll up the sleeves, when it cools down, the sleeves do too.
When the heavens open and the deluge begins, don’t flee to the nearby portoloo or escape back to your tent when the pelting gets tough, choosing the right outerwear will avoid any difficulties. Investing into a perennial mac or windbreaker of a premium quality, avoiding garish toxic fluorescent raincoats and going for minimal designs is preferred.
To be more practical, a lightweight pack-a-mac would be most suited to festivals as it can be easily stored away once the rain ends.
Shorts are ideal festival wear, and as you will be wearing them for the entire day, comfort is key. Swaying away and repressing your sartorial inclinations from slim-cut, tailored shorts and instead go for looser styles. Think denim or sweat shorts, with denim in slim or straight cuts. Try edging up your shorts by going for acid wash or ripped varieties.
The shoes you decide to wear to a festival will drastically impact your experience. Alongside the cliched wellington boots, lightweight shoes designed for comfort should be donned. Flip-flops and espadrilles are not preferable for the soaked and muddy base camps and energetic raves.
In terms of the style of footwear, keep in mind that the trepidations of the trek to see the headline acts might mean that the shoes you wear might not be seen again. Choose a pair that offer style at an affordable price. If keeping your outfit simple, go for an outre pair of shoes, such as printed Vans or Converse. Keep the footwear minimal or of a block colour if the rest of your garments are of a louder nature. If the festival you’re going to is in a field, steer clear from white as it will inevitably get ruined form the plights of soggy mud.
One final thing to keep in mind is the importance of accessories: hats, sunglasses, bracelets and necklaces all can be utilised to individualise your aesthetic. Mirrored sunglasses lenses and retro round frames gleamed form the 80s are on point for Spring/Summer 2014. Statement jewelry – nautical bracelets and bohemian neck-wear – is another way to add personalty to your assemble. Bucket hats, trilbies and straw hats are other stylish (and sun-protective) ways to add flair.
Accessories will help to individualise your outfit dramatically, but make sure you have a durable bag, too. A bag for a festival, especially long-term ones that must last longer than just a simple overnight stay, are an absolute necessity. The sports-luxe trend has been heavily and quickly (thanks to the popularity and inspiration boosts from the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 World Cup) adopted by designers from all around the world.
The trend means that sporty themed accessories and clothing are no longer bland, tabooed products, they are daring casual statements. A gym bag is highly suitable to the hectic festival life, lacking the bulky nature of the backpack, it has the capacity to fit all your valuables inside, and the sturdy straps are a lot more secure and theft-resistant than a messenger bag.
The soaring temperatures and spots of rain of the summer months provide men with a great opportunity to experiment with their wardrobe choices, and festivals proffer a moment of tailoring liberation; being able to wear pieces or accessories that you would not traditionally go for.
But most importantly, have a good time and enjoy the fantastic music!