All hail the triumphant return of the Summer music festival: a chance to escape to far-off locations, enjoy delicious food, and dance the night away to your favorite musical acts. This year’s lineup meets various tastes and interests, from Glastonbury to Afropunk, Lollapalooza to Riotfest, and everything in between. While a quick search of festival fashion might reveal a tendency toward flower crowns, fringe tops, and floral maxi-skirts, every festival has its own visual language, just as it does its own specific genre. So, approach your ensemble like you would a playlist, organized by genre and mood. Whether you prefer relaxing to smooth jazz in the daytime or dancing with wild abandon in the desert come nighttime, read on for a curation of festival fashion essentials that will strike the chord you need.
Comfort is a top priority if you’re going to spend hours dancing to hard-hitting drum and bass, but that doesn’t have to negate an outfit that can stand out amongst the flashing lights and smoke machines. Neons are radiant under strobe lighting, and they’re also useful should your friends need to look for you in the large crowds. Viviers’ Poolside Slip Dress is the right balance of function and fashion. The fuschia nylon dress has a square neckline and thin spaghetti straps, making a great canvas for bold jewelry. Complement the fuchsia hue with rose-tinted sunglasses from Bôhten. The Ghanaian brand’s classic aviators are constructed from reclaimed ebony wood, black and gold-tone metal, and tortoise acetate with silicone nose pads to provide a comfortable fit from dusk to dawn. Pepper Row’s Strappy Sandals are a practical yet playful choice when it comes to footwear. The vibrant color block multi-strap sandals are made even more festive with raffia fringe detailing, making them a great go-to for all of your ensembles. Finally, no festival look is complete without the obligatory belt bag, small but roomy enough to store the necesseties and keep your movement unrestricted. The crocodile leather Nafa Belt Bag doubles as a classic waist-cinching belt to wear over relaxed slip dresses, or opt for the Rebel Fanny Bag, whose “I’m 58 Plastic Bags” label can be a great conversation starter.
The Indie Festival
If your music taste has often led you down an eclectic rabbit hole of regional artists, your approach to festival dressing is all about an appreciation for distinct details. Pepper Row’s Nata Maxi Shirt Dress fits that bill. Dyed and hand-painted using antique batik, Adire, and tie-dye methods, it’s a technicolor update to the reliably comfortable shirt dress, and it’s easily adaptable to a variety of climates and locals thanks to its silk-cotton fabrication. Opt to wear the dress with a V-neckline and showcase a striking necklace like Jiamini’s Matuu Spine Drop. The articulated pendant is inspired by the human vertebrae, adding a touch of armor to enhance the look. Or pair the necklace with the Retro Girl Denim Shirt Dress from Nigerian label Gozel Green. Finished with hand-painted brushstrokes, the denim style is cut with a V-neckline with kimono cap sleeves and dramatically draped paneling at the sides to achieve an unconventional hourglass silhouette. The multicolored polka dot-like brush strokes provide a youthful feel, and the color palette offers endless styling options, such as matching your accessories to the brush strokes or streamlining the look with neutrals such as the Mini Afro Basket and Maliko’s Otito Sandals. Either way, you can be assured of a stylish, unique ensemble that artfully manages comfortability.
The Jazz Festival
The more relaxed atmosphere of most jazz festivals allows room to play with bold, large accessories set against minimalist, elegant dressing. Ami Doshi Shah's Frond Drop Earrings are ideal for catching the light as you sway to the smooth sounds of the saxophone. The sculptural drops are made from polished brass and brass patina arranged in curved geometric contours that offer the balance often found in jazz music. Meanwhile Khokho Collection's Ball Bag is compact enough for easy movement and convenience while having enough room for the essentials. Woven from natural fibers and trimmed with cow leather, suede, and gold hardware, it’s all about appreciating the finer details. Similarly, Awa Meité’s Point Top is of simple construction with intricate embellishments upon closer inspection. The crop top is embroidered with contrasting stripes and color orbs, matching the fringing on the kimono sleeves. Keep the look sleek with KikoRomeo’s Funzi Pants. For a sense of romance, opt for Andrea Iyamah’s Xena Maxi. The earthy floor-length gown is constructed from stretch cotton in a sweeping A-line that offers a flattering silhouette that can be adjusted with the cut-out drawstring detail at the front. The feminine piece is a finished look in itself, simply requiring subtle gold accents to enhance the brown hue, such as Loza Maleombho’s White Fah Plus Sandals.
While we might all have specific genres we favor more than others, there is nothing like the energy and excitement of large-scale, popular music festivals that will have you crooning to R’n’B, bouncing to hip hop, and bopping to hyper-pop ballads. This allows a no-holds-barred dress code, which is ideal for anyone with tastes as eclectic in music as they are in fashion. In particular, if you’re attending multi-day events, you’ll want versatile pieces that can be transformed day to day or hour to hour. Consider the Bumi Jumpsuit from Kenyan label KikoRomeo. The hand-dyed cotton garment is breathable for warm weather and dense crowds and has a front zip that can be turned down to transform the jumpsuit into trousers to pair with a noteworthy crop top. Margaux Wong’s Daisy Bralette Top is an ideal choice, achieving the typical aesthetic of festival fashion while remaining unique as it’s crafted from cow horns with a marble-like appearance. IAMISIGO’s Drawstring Dress is a transformable hot pink number made from cotton and finished with a gathered drawstring at the front and back that can be ruched up or down to adjust its length. And there is no event more suitable for a touch of fringe than a music festival, and Reform Studio offers the opportunity while meeting the necessary function of having a place to put all your things in the Gonzo Fringes Belt Bag. The recycled plastic bag is finished with suede fringe that offers a bohemian edge to any look.
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