festival wear (a.k.a. ish you don’t need)

Fashion Travel

festival wear (a.k.a. ish you don’t need)

April 13, 2016
fare thee well, hip huggers
heck yes i like rainbows. gosh!**

I’m kind of anti one-wear-wonders. I hate the idea of buying a garment for a specific event, knowing it will only see the light of day one or two times. It’s wasteful and, frankly, stupid. I even had my wedding dress dyed dark gray, and it now hangs worthily among the rest of my black tie ensembles.

That said, I probably don’t need to explain how I feel about the latest money-sucking propaganda machine to emerge from the fashion industry in the form of “Festival Wear.”

Festival Wear basically means dressing like a southwestern hippie while showing off a lot of spray-tanned skin, and as long as you’re not wearing black stilettos and a pencil skirt a la Claire Underwood, it’s kind of anything goes. Don’t get me wrong – I can definitely get down with this vibe. I’m not making an appearance at Coachella, but if I was, I’d be rocking natural waves, no-makeup makeup and crocheted halter-tops with the best of them. The greatest thing about fashion is that it can be used to instantaneously alter one’s perceived identity, and my guess is that very few attendees are truly on the fringe-bra, flower-headband, transparent-maxi-dress bandwagon year round. So while I, too, would play the part, what I wouldn’t be doing at Coachella is sporting newly purchased Festival Wear branded as such by fast fashion’s elite.

Coachella Vibes


Many of the major fast fashion enterprises (think H&M, Zara, Forever 21, etc.) are pushing it hard this year. I get it. Sell, sell, sell! But to be honest, the advertising alone has already tired me of it, and Coachella hasn’t even begun yet. It’s going to be a long couple of weeks on Instagram, folks.


Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to be one of the concert-goers who actually has a need for “Festival Wear,” let me save you some money by helping you look the part without a) spending a fortune to do so or b) buying clothing made by impoverished Cambodian children. Armed with a little creativity, you need look no further than your own closet to absolutely dominate the free-spirited, boho, flower-child, dream-catcher vibe.

Some basics:

  1. Go with the flow: the flowier the better. Lightweight items that catch the breeze and move with you are a big part of the free-spirited feeling. Bonus points for showing glimpses of body parts that would make your dad uncomfortable.
  2. Transcend opacity: translucence is good. If you don’t ‘gram a golden-hour photo with the sun at your back and the shadowy silhouette of your body outlined by the faint glow of a whimsical see-through dress, were you really even there?
  3. Flatten it out: no heels, no exceptions.
  4. Be neutral: although black is showing up this season, I think natural, neutral tones reign supreme. The trick is to be neutral enough to blend in with the desert landscape, but provocative and boho enough to stand out from the rest of the people that blend in with the landscape. Blend in…boldly. Get it?
  5. Tie it up: Ankle-wrap sandals. String halter-tops. Headbands. Things that tie – get involved.
  6. DIY: Even if you didn’t actually DIY – cutoffs, tie-dye, holes, rips, fading, crochet, patches, embroidery…if you (or your grandma, or Pocahontas) can do it, you should wear it.
  7. Additional items of note for the 2016 Festival season: lace, suede, fringe, denim-on-denim, off-the-shoulder, deep V (extra credit for the lace-up deep V), ruffles…see? I told you. Anything goes. Except heels. Don’t do it.

Now let’s raid your closet! Many of the items listed above are trending and may already be ripe for the picking in your wardrobe.  Do you have cutoff shorts?  Crop tops?  Anything with fringe, suede, embroidery?  A saddlebag?  A maxi dress?  A romper? Mix, match and festivalize these basics with accessories and you’ve got a summer wardrobe that will take you through spring, summer, fall, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands.

Festival Staples You Already Own



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