What to wear this festival season

Lollapalooza balloon photographed in Grant Park. 

Lollapalooza 2010 – Day ” by – EMR – licensed for CC by 2.0

In the past month, a handful of Chicago’s most popular music festivals have released their long-awaited lineups. North Coast is the most recent release and boasts headliners like ZEDD and ODESZA with other artists like GROUPLOVE and Juicy J rounding out the multi-genre lineup.

North Coast festival will be held in Union Park, September 2nd through September 4th, appearing later in the festival season calendar. Pitchfork festival, which is also held in Union Park, falls on the weekend of July 15th through July 17th. The biggest of the festivals, Lollapalooza, will be occupying four days from July 28th through July 31st in Grant Park and celebrating the festival’s 25th anniversary.

With a booked festival calendar, aside from worrying about battling heatstroke and how to deal with rowdy crowds, it is about time for festivalgoers to begin thinking about what they are going to wear. Arguably, who you’re going to see is most important, especially if you’re spending upwards of $300 on four-day tickets to Lollapalooza, but festival fashion is equally as important as who you’re jamming out to.

When considering what might make the perfect festival look, there are a few key ingredients that shouldn’t be overlooked. While many say beauty is pain, it shouldn’t be fainting in the middle of Grant Park while wearing pleather pants.

Take a page out of this festivalgoer’s book and opt for practical clothing like a tank top and protective eyewear. 

Lollapalooza 2014” by Liliane Callegary licensed for CC by 2.0

Comfort reigns supreme

 In recent years, the interest in festival fashion has increased exponentially. This may be attributed to festivals like Coachella, in Indio, Calif., which attracts more Hollywood stars than any other festival. However, if you’re not blessed enough to have access to air-conditioned VIP tents, take this tip to heart.

Wear something comfortable and practical, even if it means sacrificing the off-the-wall look you wanted to rock. Loose layers – and less of them, lighter colors, and thinner fabrics will keep you feeling cool and airy instead of warm and constricted.

“I’ve seen people at festivals in ninety degree heat wearing long sleeves and a full-length skirt, all in the name of fashion,” Makenna Eldridge, sophomore at DePaul University and frequent festivalgoer, said. “It’s not a practical look and you run the risk of seriously overheating.”

Cultural appropriateness, not appropriation

Many festivalgoers have appropriated another culture in the pursuit of a cool outfit. Cultural appropriation is defined as “the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture,” and it is most often seen with festivalgoers appropriating American Indian headdresses as well as Hindu bindis.

Actress and festival style star Vanessa Hudgens even donned multiple bindis at Coachella in 2014. Recently, bohemian-influenced brand Free People caught flack for their festival collection, which included culturally appropriating pieces like American Indian-inspired headwear.

Cultural appropriation is socially damaging, but at the very least it’s offensive to members of the culture that is being appropriated. What may seem like a fashion statement to one carries heavy cultural significance to another.

Instead of showcasing unique style through culturally symbolic accessories or garments, get creative with styling. Revamp a flower crown or use jewelry to make your look go the extra mile.

Comfort doesn’t mean sacrificing your personal style. This festivalgoer used bright colors and patterned details to make her look stand out. 

Lollapalooza 2014” by Liliane Callegary licensed for CC by 2.0

The ‘It’ factor

What sets festival fashion apart from everyday street style is its emphasis on bohemian and free-spirited influences. While festivals are about celebrating a collectively shared appreciation for music, many people use festivals as an opportunity to showcase their individual style and creativity.

Finding a festival look that you feel good in and represents your style is the most important element of the equation. Festivals present an opportunity for festivalgoers to experiment with their own personal style and expressing their individuality. What makes a person’s festival look special is the personal flair they add to it.

“I’m planning on attending Lollapalooza this year and I’m just as excited about the music as I am about the fashion. Festivals are an opportunity to dress how you like without the judgment of others,” David Prunty, freshman at DePaul University, said. “There’s no better place to experiment with fashion than at a music festival.”


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