How to dress for a music festival

The first (and only in Switzerland) music festival I ever attended was the Montreux Jazz Festival, the summer after my senior year in high school. My memories of that experience include Jamiroquai, dancing in mud, and wine-fueled fights with friends (remember, in Switzerland the legal drinking age is 16). In the last five years, I have had a chance to experience some fabulous US-based music festivals. Some of the memories are similar, yet most are much, much better. The past two weekends have been consumed with Jazz Fest amazingness, which I wrote about last Sunday. While I wasn’t intending to write about music festivals anytime soon, reading the May issue of Allure Magazine on the plane this morning changed my mind.

On page 132, in their fabulous “Insider’s Guide” column, they had a piece about “How to Dress for a Music Festival” with advice from EvaLotta Fredén. I loved everything she had to say, and thought of a couple things to add.

I could not agree with her more in terms of avoiding short skirts or dresses, on account of usually ending up sitting on the ground. I have to confess however that I forgot my own advice last Saturday, and wore my favorite casual short silk dress. I wasn’t sitting, but I did ride on a Vespa to and from the festival, which came with its own set of challenges. While I always think cute summer dresses will look nice, they are quite impractical. Jean skirts are even worse.

I love jean shorts the best, complemented by a nice top. Most will tell you that jean shorts and a tank top, or jean shorts and a t-shirt are the best attire, but I prefer something slightly fancier (after all, I am European, and feel best when I am overdressed). My favorite outfit this past weekend was white jean shorts with a Club Monaco silk / lace top. To EvaLotta’s point, sleeves are great to protect yourself both from the sun and from the evening breeze (even lace sleeves).

I try to avoid black, except for the cloudiest of days. Even a light black t-shirt in 70 degree weather can feel like a sauna. And as a general rule, I avoid jeans, except for exceptions, as was the case this past Friday when it was cold and windy.

A must if the weather-woman calls for anything except bright blue skies is a raincoat or poncho. With one of the wettest Jazz Fests on the record this year, no one will question this for a while.

Shoes are another matter of debate. I personally like flip flops, on the condition that the ground and the air are very, very dry. I hate the tan lines that come with other types of footwear… Then again, many festival veterans will only wear closed shoes, on account of clean toes. When the rain comes, or when the rain has come and left inordinate amounts of mud, rain boots are a must (walking in the mud in flip flops will ruin the flip flops and the back of your calves…). While Hunter boots seem to be a favorite, anything plastic and high enough to enable you to walk in mud puddles will work. Always with tube socks to avoid uncomfortable chafing. Avoid heels at all costs. I have to admit I tried platforms once; didn’t do that a second time.

Finally, in terms of accessories, as EvaLotta suggests, sunglasses and a purse that keeps your hands free to dance and drink are a must. I would add to that, hair accessories, which during festivals seem to replace jewelry. Flowers, pins, headbands, anything you can think of. I have not yet been able to pull off that hippie style, but am working on it – maybe for the next music festival!