What to Wear: Essential Summer Festival Wardrobe



Interesting fashion choices at last year's Coachella.

If you're like me, one of the biggest the highlights of your summers are the music festivals. I love the electricity that comes with huge, sweaty crowds, exposed skin, hot weather and even hotter music. (And I know we're poor students and festivals are expensive, but there is a solution! See my last post about volunteering.) Coachella has passed (with temps in the 80's during April - we hate you, California), but still to come are Bonnaroo, Summerfest, Outside Lands, Chicago's own Lollapalooza and Pitchfork and a lot more around the country. If you're a lady like me, you might also have trouble deciding what your wardrobe should be for these festivals (this one's for the ladies because guys have it easy - shorts, band t-shirt, boom they're done. Not fair.). The main event is the music, so you want to be comfortable and don't want to worry too much about clothing - especially if you're camping out at a festival like Bonnaroo, but at the same time you'd like to look good while you're sweating (who knows what cute band members you could meet if you slipped backstage?). Here are my top five essentials to pack in your bag, whatever festival you attend this summer.

1. The Crop Top

Yes, folks, the crop top is back. At least one trend from the 80's is salvageable, it's true. The great thing about the crop top is its ability to let in the breeze. Crop tops allow sweaty pit stains to be a thing of the past. If you're not comfortable exposing your belly, throw on a sheer or lace tank top underneath to cover up. The other great thing is that you can take any old, oversized t-shirt and make it fresh by hacking off the bottom half and the collar to do a homemade crop top. Your pits have never been happier in summer heat.

2. Sun Hats

A raging sunburn on your face is enough to kill any music buzz. So slather on the sunscreen and perch a nice, wide-brimmed sun hat on your head. It's a double-whammy - you'll keep the sunburn away and you'll be able to cover up sweaty festival-hair. My advice is to keep it simple, though, with a plain, thatched hat with a wide brim that can match everything. Looking like you just walked out of the Royal Wedding is probably not the way to go unless you want people asking what kind of animal has made its nest on your head.

3. Cut Off Shorts

These are totally basic, yes, but also totally comfortable and forever raggedy chic. Cut some old jeans off at the knee for freedom to heighten or shorten the length by folding the hem, or cut them super-short to show some skin and catch a tan. These are really the most versatile thing in your festival wardrobe.

4. The Flowy Sundress

Leave your minis at home and stock up on bright little sundresses that give your bottom half room to breathe. I know maxi dresses are trending right now, but personally I prefer dresses that hit at just below the knee or above - I find the maxis too smothering, especially in high temps. Plus, it's more fun to show off a little leg. Bathing suit cover-ups can also often make great sundresses. Sundresses are the easiest thing ever just to throw on and go with no hassle, which is great when you're running around a campground or festival site. And they come in every color imagineable - from solid brights to itty bitty florals. Plus, they look totally cute with your sun hat.

5. Comfortable Flip Flops

Anyone else sick of the strappy gladiator sandle trend? Who has time to tie up and strap up, especially when there is music to enjoy and drinks to be had? I will always stick with the simple flip flop. Available almost everywhere, in an infinite array of colors and styles. Personally I prefer a fabric upper for walking around - plastic tends to rub against the top of the foot and cause blisters when your foot gets sweaty. Places like Target and Old Navy normally have 2 for 1 deals so you can buy in bulk. And the best thing about cheap, comfy flip flops? You can chuck them after the weekend is over or when they've been worn out and get new ones.

So happy festival-ing! Just because you take the music seriously doesn't mean you can't look cute in the crowd.

What do you think, did I miss anything? What's on your summer festival wardrobe list? Let me know in the comments.


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  • LOVE this post! I have been trying to decide my wardrobe choices for summer music fests as well. Another trend I've seen is light,flowy see-through tops with bandeaus or cropped corset tops underneath. I feel like this is smart: it is a little covered up but still allows plenty of breathing room on your body in crowded crowds. Great post!

  • In reply to greekforgrace:

    Thanks! :] Yeah, I definitely love bandeaus as well! So cute underneath a gauzy top. If you couldn't tell, one of my main concerns at festivals is that I tend to sweat like a monster, so I try to keep it loose haha.

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