It seems that I was so busy doing the ‘research’ for this post that co-ed ugly sneaked on in there before me with some great festival fashion tips. But since there now seem to be festivals every weekend I don’t think it’s possible to have too much advice on the subject. And since British festival are a different experience to their international counterparts – namely through the almost guaranteed rain – I think that how to dress for a British festival more than justifies a post of its own.
What many fail to realise is that festival season does not require one to jettison their own personal style. Magazine ‘Festival Chic’ guides all seem to push the same festival look, seemingly inspired by Sienna Miller circa 2004. But there’s no need to bust out the hippy-chic boots and oversized shades. Good festival dressing is all about is adapting your own style to suit your new muddy, shower-free environs.
Preparations: Festivals are all about fun and a big part of that is not stressing too much about your appearance, so it pays to do a little bit of stressing beforehand to ensure you’re completely prepared. Set aside half an hour to try on all the outfits you plan to wear over the weekend so when you’re there you can just throw everything on and get out there. Make sure your hair is as clean and perfect as possible at the start and think about reducing the amount of any product you may use. You won’t be able to wash it out for several days. DON’T paint your nails – they will look chipped and disgusting by the end of the first day. And, if you’re as horribly pasty as me, think about getting some kind of tan. Fake or otherwise – I won’t judge – it can work wonders for your appearance when you’ve only had an hours sleep.
Hands free: One of the ultimate requirements of festival living is the need to have free hands for eating, drinking, dancing and whatever else one may feel the need to do. It almost goes without saying that number one on the essentials list is an across the body bag. But think carefully about the bag you choose. Pick something that’s waterproof (leather or plastic are good) and that fastens securely with inner zip pockets. Your essentials – from keys to camera to tissues – are going to be stored in here, make sure that no matter how drunk you get they don’t all end up soggy or stolen.
Sensible Shoes: Festivals are perhaps the only time when the concept of ‘sensible shoes’ ever enters my head. I think the Uglies have expressed a distaste for flip-flops and when you’re likely to encounter broken glass, mud, and large men wearing boots a closed toe shoe is a practical rather than sartorial necessity. Whether it’s a little woven jazz shoe or a chunky DM boot anything that is flat, laces up and is comfortable is a great choice. If the weather demands sandals then a plastic jelly shoe like the ones my friend Lotti is wearing is a fantastic option – they’re incredibly comfortable, almost indestructible and they dry out in seconds. And if wellies are necessary, plain styles look infinitely more stylish than cheap zebra/smiley face/floral print versions.
Can’t Stand the Rain? Typical British festival weather tends to hover around that annoying temperature where its never quite cold enough for a coat, yet the threat of a downpour is always imminent. A waterproof jacket is essential, but is likely to be something you’re going to take off and put on and take off again several times every hour. You’ll spend most of the time carrying it in your bag, so seek out the lightest waterproof you can. Topshop and Primark have some fantastic ones in a range of colours, and while a cagoul is never sexy, soaking clothing and pneumonia ain’t that hot either.
Fallback Warmth: As hot as festival days can be, don’t ever underestimate how ridiculously cold it can get in the middle of a field when the sun goes down. It’s reassuring and practical to have one thing which is a fallback its-fucking-cold garment to really get you through those nights when you think you’re about to freeze to death. Something like the American Apparel hoody dress is perfect. It may not be your style – and isn’t really mine – but it is pretty amazing for throwing on over absolutely anything and really is reliable at providing that much needed injection of warmth.
For the Love of Tights: If it gets really muddy then tights are your best friend. Few things are worse than having to wear wet muddy jeans, whereas tights dry quickly, keep you warm and take up no space in your bag. You can even take a few pairs around with you and change them as often as you like. The same goes for sock – take more than you think you could possibly need.
Accessorize: Never underestimate how much a few well chosen accessories can elevate a boring outfit like a vest and jeans. Leave your dainty earrings and family heirlooms at home, but don’t forget to accessorize all together. They do say it’s the only thing that separates us from animals. Festivals can also be a good time to wear all the slightly obnoxious and ridiculous accessories that you’d feel silly wearing in everyday life. Or to steal them from your friends. It’s fun and you can always claim you were inebriated and/or being ironic. This may apply to shutter shades. It doesn’t apply to jester hats.