Festival Fashion Doesn’t Belong Anywhere Near An Actual Festival

Don't let a white silk crop top stop you from having a good time


by Bertie Brandes |
Published on

OK, I should probably come clean. I’ve only ever been to one festival. Where I stayed the night, anyway. Yes, I go and eat overpriced doughnuts in Hyde Park for the day whenever possible, and I once took my Grandma to Latitude, but as far as sleeping in a tent, weeing in a hole, brushing your teeth next to strangers? Once. And once was enough.

The problem is, the reality of making a tent your bedroom and then attempting to outdo the worst hangovers of your life four days in a row, is really fucking hardcore. Contrary to what the high street’s special festival campaigns and bins full of trashy accessories want you to think, actually being in the mood to dress up after four hours of crap cider and a ‘standing way too close to the amp’ headache is a challenge. I’m not saying festivals aren’t amazing, they’re just amazing when you’re dancing at sunrise with a group of people whose phones have died and nobody’s taking any pictures. They are not amazing because of what you wear.

Stores who exist by virtue of selling neon leggings to teenagers want you to believe the best thing about going to a festival is being able to wear a fringed crop top. But the truth is, you’re far better off sticking to the basics. Basics you won’t be bothered about when they turn up compressed, under your sleeping bag, in the corner of your tent rapidly filling with a festival cocktail of rain water, cranberry juice and tobacco.

As much as I’m not one to buy into festival snobbery (unless you have a yurt and it’s after the third day, in which case you can be as much of a bitch as you want), before you hit the high street for your ‘festival wardrobe’, it definitely helps to have been to an actual festival. As a festival virgin, you’re going to feel way too much pressure from all the festival-style editorials pumped out at this time of year. Hence the abundance, at Coachella, of white crop tops and designer sunglasses, and the distinct lack of suncream, hardcore deodorant or paracetamol. You can pretty much tell who’s an old hand at festivals from one glance. A daisychain headband, Chanel handbag and floaty mini-dress? You’ll last about an hour, sugar. I’m not saying you won’t look great, but it’s just misguided to imagine a short floaty dress is going to be anything but infuriating once you try and push your way into a crowd.

I suppose that’s why I find the idea of dressing up for a festival so ridiculous; it's one of the few times you actually need clothes to be reliable and comfortable. And have pockets. If you’re seriously packing all your favourite new clothes because you need a new profile picture, you’re in for a big surprise.

A good few miles away from the fairly tragic hippie-via-Forever 21 genre of festival dressing you’ll find the real party girls. These are the ones who manage to look equally amazing on Thursday evening and Tuesday morning, they're wearing Fruit Of The Loom tracksuit tops, beat-up Stan Smiths and not much in between. A pair of tiny denim cut offs sure, but studded? Ouch, I don’t think so. All your hair needs is a scrunchie, a good dose of Batiste and absolutely no fishtail plaits at all, regardless of what Instagram insists.

Sure, we do festivals a bit different over here to Coachella, and if you’re going to LA to stay in a villa with a pool and pop into the festival for an hour at a time, go nuts with the ribbon hair twists or whatever. But when it comes to the kind of festivals I’m used to? The kind where Wellingtons aren’t just a fashion decision but the only thing between you and trench foot? Keep it simple, keep it replaceable and most of all, keep it comfortable. And no that’s not the most boring sentence I’ve ever written, because all it means is you can get even drunker and not have to clutch at the bottom of your skirt as you roll around at 5AM with some guy you just met in the silent disco tent. It’s not cool, it’s not fashionable, it’s not going to look great in a photo, but you guessed it, it’s way more fun. Keep your pool parties and asymmetric chiffon dresses, Coachella, I’ll take grubby T-shirts and lifelong memories, thanks.

Follow Bertie on Twitter @BertieBrandes

Pictures: Getty

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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