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Festival Fashion

by Ariana Quihuiz

Photography by Angela Wang

As we enter into spring and summer, we also approach the season of music festivals. Coachella, Stagecoach, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Boston Calling are just around the corner, and festival-goers are preparing not only by listening to the artists that will be featured, but also by planning out the outfits they will be wearing.

Not many realize how much effort goes into the ensembles worn at these events. In fact, retail stores even design entire fashion campaigns directed at customers attending music festivals.

Bloomingdales just released a new campaign appropriately titled “Festival Bound 2016” that features apparel such as crop tops, jean shorts, fringe dresses, fedoras and off-the-shoulder dresses. However, this campaign may not be a reasonable choice for all festival-goers. The apparel can range anywhere from $30 to over $100—a little pricey for clothes about to be caked in dirt, dust, sweat and who knows what else.

A more affordable option is Forever 21, which also has its own festival collection. Their apparel is much cheaper with crop tops as low as $10 depending on the style. They also have fringed crochet vests and skirts, printed rompers and shorts, kimonos, drawstring shorts and denim cutoffs.

Diane Nguyen, a writer for E! Online Style Collective, wrote a post titled “Festival Fashion: What to Wear This Season Based On Your Personality” in which she breaks down the style of festival-goers into six sections: the bohemian, the outlaw, the raver, the baller, the prep and the rocker.

“A crochet top and denim cut-offs does not make a festival outfit,” said Nguyen in her post. “Your style requires something a little more thoughtful, a little more customized to your personality.”

The bohemian style, a popular choice at many festivals like Coachella, draw on “flower child” inspiration. The style consists of dresses and tops with a flowing silhouette, a bold color statement and flower crowns. However, not everyone is a fan of the style, popularized by Coachella regulars like Vanessa Hudgens.

“I’ve noticed the trends like flower crowns and lace-up tops,” said Alessa Gaeta (CAS ’19). “I think that these and other trends are way overhyped because the clothes aren’t anything special, but everybody obsesses over them anyway.”

The outlaw, perfect for festivals like Stagecoach, an outdoor country music festival in California, deal with a lot more fringe, suede and, of course, cowboy boots.

Meanwhile, the raver usually opts for a bright colored vest or jacket on top of a neutral colored outfit. The baller takes a more athletic approach with leather crop tops, basketball shorts and sneakers. These styles can usually be found at EDM-heavy festivals, such as Electric Forest in Rothbury, MI.

The prep, a good option for non-desert festivals, such as Firefly in Delaware, often chooses a patterned dress with tights underneath, a jacket or sweater on top and rain boots. The rocker, more accustomed to the music festival vibes, usually selects a vintage band or artist T-shirt, printed shorts and black boots.

Festival fashion is not only influenced by personal taste, but it can also depend on the type of festival that a person is attending.

Emma Parkinson (COM ’19) attends Lollapalooza, a well-known festival in Chicago. She finds glitter and flower crowns impractical

“The style [at Lollapalooza] is very particular,” said Parkinson.” It's a lot of booty shorts and crop tops and converse. However, some of the more stylish people go with sandals or even boots, long maxi skirts and loose tops and large sun hats.”

When dressing for a festival, it’s important to be fashionable, but also to dress comfortably since you’ll be immersed in a huge crowd of music-lovers. You want to be able to maneuver through the crowds, dance and frolic around without being tied down by heavy clothing that is difficulr to move in.

Some safe options are denim or patterned shorts paired with loose shirts or crop tops, which can be paired with cute shoes. Mix-matched patterns and crochet or fringe apparel are often popular in festival fashion and can dress up an outfit. Layer wisely and pay attention to the weather—it may be really hot in the day and cool down dramatically at night.

Any outfit can also be dressed up with some popular festival accessories like body or head chains, a multitude of rings, feather hair extensions, a pair of sunglasses, temporary tattoos or a leather jacket. A backpack or small cross-body purse are also good accessories to bring along because at most music festivals you’ll be outside for the majority of the day and will need a place to hold your keys, money and cellphone,

If you’re headed to a festival this summer, check out ASOS,, or A’GACI for some inspiration or to purchase your festival attire.

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