Come June, it seems that every billboard, in every city, is advertising some variation of a summer fantasy. Coke wants you to “Open Happiness” on a beach, while tourism campaigns (interestingly enough, interchangeable with beer ads) whisper: “Summer’s different here, join us.” But more visible than all of these, are the posters for music festivals you see while getting your coffee in the morning, riding the subway to work or walking basically anywhere in the city where a wall or a tree might be.
No matter what part of the world you are in, it is likely there is a music festival nearby—a celebration of being young, cool and cultured—beckoning you to grassy fields. And, while we’re all for music festivals—in fact, we love them, especially homegrown ones—this scene has birthed a fashion cliché that dates back to the days of Woodstock. Now don’t get us wrong; we bare no ill will to our ‘60s predecessors—those festivalgoers were groovy—we just think that’s it’s about time to lay flower crowns to rest and start dressing to the tune of the modern era.
Think about it this way: if you’re not the type to treat Halloween as an opportunity to join the ranks of “naughty” nurses, maids and school girls, why would you fly with a flock that deck themselves out in head to toe bohemian garb for one weekend out of the year, while coveting J.Crew the rest of the 363 days? Put logic into action and ignite a festival style revolution! Below, more reasons why mainstream festival nostalgia should be laid to rest, and what to wear when saying your goodbyes.
Yes, we’ve all seen the magazine photos, the blogs and the Instagram posts of ‘those girls.” The cute girls with their bare midriff and short shorts that make you wonder how they’re allowed out past sundown. With no curfew, these festival Lolitas have inspired waves of followers—young and old—to do the same. But when was the last time we took fashion advice from a 16-year-old? A festival should be about enjoying the moment and the music, not wondering if you’re going to catch a chill with the first breeze that rolls in. (And hey, don’t call us grandma…Reading gets cold; England is not the tropics sonny!). We suggest playing it like a boy scout and making sure you’re prepared for the sun to fade, i.e. layers—sophisticated ones. Sure you can wear that cute printed sundress during the day, but what’s wrong with bringing a jacket to throw on when temperatures cool?
Dressing like everyone else should not be your end fashion goal—festival or not. The flower crown was strung together by Woodstock pioneers to be different, wild and of nature. There’s nothing wild about following the herd; lose the daisies and connect with nature via bold floral prints on dresses that dare not to skim just below the top of your thigh.
Let’s be real, so many festivals have become so much more than music. They’re about events and parties that often take you off the festival grounds. (A lot of people/fashion labels/magazines have/rent houses in Palm Springs…and a lot of people who see one to zero shows at Coachella, know those people.) Don’t get caught looking like a stereotype when you wander from the field to poolside at a private estate. How about something a bit more classy (and versatile) to contrast that grassy seat? We suggest trying on a Parisian-inspired look that reads leisure chic, or a modern incarnation of the festival stamped traditional white eyelet dress. Oh, and a long brim Panama hat to match with either outfit, particularly posh with a touch of leather detailing.
It has to be said: Tribal prints? Please stop. Aztec triangles were never meant to be pattered across a romper or paired with vintage denim and a sunburn. If you’re going to go for a graphic print, make it something modern and flattering. You move at festivals, like, a lot. If you want to be able to dance without straps falling, not to mention having the less than perfect side of your bottom peeking out, stick to cuts that hang loose and sit still.
Okay, so here’s the one we’ve all been guilty of donning: cut-off jean shorts. We all own a pair with their rips and tatters, and some of us actually distressed them with time and wear. Yes, they do tend to look good on just about everyone, but they also happen to be the biggest fashion cliché at any music festival. From the patchouli lovers at Burning Man to the American Apparel brigade at Osheaga, denim is the shorts fabric of choice. Dare to go against the grain. If denim it must be, than choose a variation that suits a day in the desert listening to music, as well as it does a Saturday sipping on Caesars at brunch. Trust us and you’ll be popping in a crowd of thigh-high faded jean shorts.