The Ultimate Guide For What To Bring and Wear to Music Festivals

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This year I was fortunate enough to attend seven music festivals, four of those being out-of-state fests: Coachella in April, Electric Forest in June, Float Fest in July, Lollapalooza in August, Lost Lands in September, and both weekends of ACL Fest in October.

Funny story: ACL Fest was my first ever music festival in 2012 when I was 21-years-old, and I was…not a fan 🤭 I only went for ONE DAY and was completely exhausted with an awful sunburn and blistered feet, thinking, “How can people do 3 whole days of this??”😱

Cut to the present day, and I’m now obsessed!! I travel outside of Texas just for them, I seek out 4-day fests, I’ll show up early & stay until the end, I camp at half of them, and this year I did two weekends back-to-back… Turns out, in 2012, I just had no idea how to prepare or what to expect, so I had a miserable time.

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Now, when it comes to fest fashion, I always veer more on the practical side as opposed to the fashionable side. So if you came to this post in hopes of getting some inspiration for fest-fits that will get you noticed at your next festival, you are in the wrong place, ha!

What you WILL get from this post:

  • The majority of my festival looks from 2018
  • How to fest comfortably for an entire weekend
  • How to pack as light as possible & bring only the essentials
  • How I dress cute for fests without shopping for a new outfit every time
  • My simple do’s and don’ts of fest fashion
  • The 10 things I bring to EVERY single festival

Festivals normally require walking miles a day, dancing hours on end, sweating profusely (especially during the summer), and with little or no time to sit down to take a break… so yeah, the last thing I care about is trying to stand out in a crowd with my clothes. I have mad respect to those who do though!

I wanna be as comfortable as possible so that by the end of each fest, I’m not feeling completely exhausted and defeated. If this sounds up your alley, keep reading for my most useful festival outfit tips…

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Choose one staple piece, then mix & match around it

When I say staple, I usually mean some kind of basic, neutral piece that’s either black, white, grey, tan, or even denim. In the above example, I wore a black bralette 3 different ways for 3 different fests. It’s comfortable and can be worn with pretty much any other color!

My high waist denim shorts also come to mind (shown in a few photos below) as a staple that’s easy to pair different clothes with. You can’t go wrong with denim!

Once you have selected your basic staple, add at least one fun print to your look; above you can see how I paired my bralette with either an American flag shirt tied around my waist (also great for when it gets cold at night), tie-dye shorts, or throwing a funky mesh dress over it. Be creative!

 

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Stick with what you know already works

You know those go-to outfits in your wardrobe that you can’t help but wear over & over? The same goes for festival outfits. I used to be the type of girl who wanted a brand new outfit for every new fest, but the more fests I went to, the more money it was starting to cost me.

A new outfit for every new festival is not practical, and that’s okay!!

Think back on your past fest-fits: which were your faves? What were you most comfortable in? I recommend taking a photo of your outfit every day at a festival, so you can go back and get inspired with clothes you know you already have in your closet.

 

IMG_9822.jpgOpt for the minimalist route

When you need to pack as light as possible; stick with 2 pairs of shorts & 4 different tops. If you’re going somewhere that’s cooler at night, add in a pair of leggings to your list.

The above example shows ALL the clothes I had with me for 4 days of festing in Chicago. I packed my lightest for this trip because directly after it I was heading to Banff. Two different cities, two different climates, and I still managed to fit it all in my carry-on backpack.

I brought 2 pairs of shorts and alternated them for each day then mixed them with different tops (thankfully the tops were all easy to roll up; 2 of them were bodysuits, 1 is a swimsuit & 1 is a sports bra). One fanny pack, one baseball cap, and one pair of Chacos. I felt super comfortable each day!

 

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Accessorize

Because I opt for comfort above all else, my festival outfits are usually nothing to write home about. I like them, but let’s just say no festival photographer is going to seek me out and ask to take my photo for their “Best Outfits We Saw At _______ Fest” haha. I get it!

With that said, I still like to accessorize where I can with my outfits to make them just a tiny bit less basic. These are usually items that either I was going to wear anyway or are at least small, light, and won’t annoy me later on such as a fun pair of sunglasses or earrings, a colorful belt, a printed bandana, layered chokers, or a cool cap.

Happy feet

When I first started festing years ago I would wear cute shoes or sandals that usually had my feet aching by the end of day 1. I can’t even blame this as a “gettin’ old” issue because the truth is, my feet have always hurt from not wearing proper shoes, even when I was in my teens. Some people can wear Converse or sandals with no arch support and walk all day at a fest and be totally fine; I ain’t one of those people.

Now I literally only wear my Chacos to all festivals; no really, look at all the pics where you can see my feet in this post. Chacos ONLY! They last me all 3 days (or 4 days in some cases like Electric Forest and Lollapalooza) and my feet never hurt anymore. Sure, my legs are tired at the end of the long weekend of constant walking/standing/dancing, but I’m not in agony, and that’s what counts.

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Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Wear a loose/flowy dress which makes using a port-o-potty way easier, and you get out faster.
  • Mix your staple solid pieces with at least one fun print.
  • Wear swimsuits/sports bras as tops; they absorb sweat better, and you’ll stay cooler throughout the day.
  • Tie a fun printed shirt or jacket around your waist for later if you know it’s going to get cold at night.
  • Bring some kind of hat during the peak hours of the day; I recommend a baseball cap because they’re easy to fold away when the sun goes down.
  • If your bag or pocket isn’t big enough to hold your cap, you can clip a keychain holder to a belt loop & attach your cap to it when you don’t need it (see photo of me below).
  • If you’d prefer not to carry a bag at all, go for high waist shorts with deep pockets that can fit your phone and essentials (you truly don’t need THAT much stuff).
  • Buy a case for your phone that doubles as a wallet, so you can put your ID and cash in there and have everything in one. It’s less to keep track of, and you’re less likely to lose your phone because of it. I’ve been doing this for 3 years, & I’ve never lost any ID, debit cards, cash, or my phone. I have this exact one.
  • Apply sunscreen right before heading into the fest.
  • Bring a koozie for your cold drinks!
  • Bring a fan!! It gets HOT, y’all. People will be trying to stand near you once you get your fan going, haha, be sure to help them out if they look like they’re gonna pass out.
  • No seriously, bring a fan. You’ll thank me later.
  • Try to sneak in a protein snack for later. Food is always pricey inside fests, and you will get hangry.
  • Wear whatever you want! Anything goes at festivals.

Don’t:

  • Wear a romper/jumpsuit that will force you to get naked in a port-o-potty.
  • Bring a big bag or any bag that will either weigh you down or get in the way; I personally always opt for a fanny pack over a crossbody, but some girls don’t mind them (like my 2 friends shown in this post near the top).
  • Bring your most expensive sunglasses to the fest; or ANYTHING expensive for that matter (like jewelry). If it gets lost, it will ruin your whole weekend.
  • Keep your phone in your back-pocket; if you don’t have a bag, opt for your front pocket at least. Also, if you’re using a fanny pack, keep it toward the front of you.
  • Leave your bag unzipped/open at any time! You’ll look like a prime target.
  • Wear a giant sun hat unless you’re prepared to wear it at night or hold it. In my case, I just wore it at night at dealt with it.
  • Ok I know I said you should wear whatever you want, but maybe don’t wear a headdress or sombrero because cultural appropriation is not cool.

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The 10 things I take to every single fest:

  1. Chacos sandals
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Koozie
  4. Baseball cap
  5. Fan
  6. Fanny pack
  7. Earplugs
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Bandana
  10. Wallet phone case

In summary…

Pack light, wear your most comfortable clothing/shoes, carry as little as possible, protect yourself from the sun & dehydration, don’t overthink your outfit (trust me, no one is looking at you), and have fun!

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Here’s a bonus pic of me at 6am in a lion onesie on day 4 at Electric Forest. You’re welcome.
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