People go to music festivals to feel alive, to feel like the largest expression of themselves they can be. A few days of escape from the every day struggles of humanity are all that’s needed. Sunshine, sweaty high-fives, inebriated smiles from strangers and dancing like you’re at a middle school dance party again are just a few of the reasons why music festivals have become so popular in the world today, especially in the U.S. No matter how prevalent social media has become in our generation’s lifetime, we still like to be reminded that there are actual funny, amazing and interesting people behind those screen names.
While drugs and alcohol may make it easier to “radiate positivity,” the entire atmosphere of a music festival today is enough to make you feel high.
Electrifying music tickles your ears and vibrates throughout your whole body as thousands of people surround you, feeling the same vibes.
Looking around at some of the most popular festivals in the U.S., like Bonnaroo and Coachella, an image of the late ‘60s appears. Long hair and long, tie-dye skirts paired with crochet, belly-bearing tops are the staple, as comfort, freedom, self-expression and uniqueness all factor into wardrobe considerations.
How do we know what “festival style” even looks like and where does it stem from? A bit of history, music and culture are sources of inspiration, and factor into this growing trend that has emerged onto the fashion scene with fervor.
Roots of a Hippie Culture
Although the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival wasn’t the first to emerge on to the scene, it certainly showed the nonviolent strength of this counterculture, as well as laid the foundation for festivals to come.
Today, there are hundreds of different music festivals to choose from, with genres spanning from jazz to electronic all the way to classical. As many as 32 million people attend at least one music festival in the U.S. each year! Countries everywhere participate in this phenomenon, with some notable ones like Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. and Sziget Festival in Hungary. While popular festivals today obviously come with a price tag attached, the original Woodstock was forced to be free of charge because of its surprisingly high attendance rate.
Opening to over 400,000 exhilarated people charging in and pushing through fences, the promoters of Woodstock had no choice but to make it free. This made sense at the time, as this entire “Three Days of Peace and Music” was an escape from the very harsh realities of young adults being sent to war in Vietnam. Many iconic music legends like Bob Dylan, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix made a name for themselves here, with Hendrix closing it down in an unforgettable guitar solo of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
What did people wear? Psychedelic prints, fringe, lots and lots of denim, or nothing at all!
The 1960’s were a turbulent decade filled with war, civil rights and social movements, and this was reflected in the youth’s clothes: colorful, provocative and free.
Music and Atmosphere
Popular festivals like Electric Zoo, Coachella and Bonnaroo combine a large variety of music genres with other entertainment like comedy shows, movie theaters and silent discos. Large, open fields in combination with warm weather inspire outfits that are light and comfortable. The hippie movement of the late ‘60s and the ‘70s is still reflected in the clothing worn at modern music festivals. Even to this day, anything goes! Originality is welcome in this environment –– in fact, it’s encouraged. Organic food and drinks, as well as eco-friendly products sold throughout these festivals encourage an atmosphere of health, love and wellness. Camping out, sweating and rolling around in the mud, while not the most glamorous sides of festival life, are what make the experiences you have with people so fun and special. It’s not just those cute pictures you see on Pinterest of models and celebrities looking perfectly bohemian. Glitter, crazy headpieces and light-up sneakers are the norm here; all judgment goes out the window.
Music of all genres is represented at the nation’s top festivals, from folk to rap, and anything in between. A seduction of sounds lures you in to a new mindset at every corner. Spacey, indie music calls for billowy garments in more muted colors, while high-energy rap and electronic sets are reserved for outfits with loud patterns and bold graphics.
S/S ‘15 is the Season of the Sixties
“Better” category brands like Free People have been mastering hippie/festival style for years, but designer brands have been putting their own twist on it lately. Creative director of Chloé, Clare Waight Keller, has put her own folksy spin on the flower child style. Emilio Pucci, known for its array of bold, colorful prints, also proved to take inspiration from the guilt-free lifestyle of festivals by sending tie-dyed goddess Naomi Campbell down the runway. Valentino, if you can afford it, has also provided festivalgoers with a number of suitable garbs for the season, including breezy, lace trimmed dresses with laser cuts and tall, strappy Grecian sandals. The Sixties were such a revolutionary decade that fashion was all over the map. This was a period where everything was accepted, as it was an expression of your inner self. Colorful prints and graphics, sneakers, dirty denim and breast-grazing tops were just as common as long, flowing lace dresses. Festival culture today dictates these same trends, albeit with a more modern take.
We all long for the days of letting loose and letting go of all negative energy. This lifestyle of excitement and love for life, as well as for others and the environment, is one that should continue on for a long time. What’s your unique festival style? Let me know in the comments!