The question of what to wear to a festival — much like Halloween, going out, or everyday life — is different when you’re under 22. Thanks to Alexa Chung, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, music festivals (aka 1,500-acre parties) can. Divots) have become synonymous with aggressively fashion choices that range from revealing to unconventional, which doesn’t necessarily sit well with those of us uncomfortable with glitter.
But festivals aren’t just for teenagers. In fact, it’s those concert-goers with at least three decades under their belts who really define things, proving that there’s no need to deviate from our everyday ensembles in order to have a good time.
They are also the cohort who are more likely to buy less when they buy better. The throwaway nature of festival wear (cheap + mud = trash can) ignores the fact that 70 pieces of our clothing end up in landfills every year. And just because you see Megan Thee Stallion on the main stage and then meet Salty Dog (a staple of past Electric Picnics, for the uninitiated), doesn’t mean you need to stock up on your wardrobe with new pieces to celebrate.
The beauty of being Irish is that you probably already own the holy grail of festival attire (wellies, raincoats, woolen hats). And other essentials — sunglasses, dry shampoo, an upbeat pair of shorts — are must-have wardrobe items that don’t need to be ordered ahead of time to look good.
“When you’re in your 20s you worry a lot about what people think of you, so you generally just go with the crowd and buy things off the rack at the best price,” says the independent accessory designer, DJ and concept artist Margaret O’Connor. Best known for her millinery work (you will have seen her pieces on some of Ireland’s trendiest at this year’s Dublin Horse Show Ladies’ Day), she has recently launched her first range of accessories after years of planning.
“I’ve always wanted to dress in an original way,” says O’Connor (36). “Even when I’m DJing, I wear clothes that are a bit funky. I suppose it goes hand in hand with designers, so many of us dress extravagantly because we love the industry we work in.”
O’Connor says festival fashion choices tend to evolve in the third decade. “When you meet people in their 30s going to festivals, they’re generally music nerds and probably really into festival gear, be it good leather jackets, PVC leggings, punk headgear, etc. I think by the time you’re in your 30s you don’t really care too much about what other people think of what you’re wearing, which is really liberating.
“I’ve changed my style a lot and I know it’s unusual, but we’re always growing as people and evolving our personal styles – so let’s show it!” There are a lot of people who go to festivals and put in a little bit of effort.”
At a festival, O’Connor says she usually wears what she would wear on a Saturday night “except with comfy shoes for dancing.”
“I’m a farmer and I know wellies can be very uncomfortable if they’re not broken in. So if you have a dry weekend, pack your running shoes. Make sure you have something warm for the evening. That’s a different thing when you’re a bit older at a festival – you won’t forget your jumper!
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“That being said, I would recommend people to shop Irish, shop local, shop second hand and choose the things from their wardrobe that are either timeless or coming back in style. I would also encourage people to get loud with their wardrobe – push it a bit and have the freak. Besides, you can never go wrong with a cool boat cap.”
Paddy Smyth or the Season 2 Champion of The circle As you may know it online, it’s all about mixing bright colors and unforgettable fabrics while putting comfort first. A die-hard fan of colour-blocking, oversized silhouettes and potentially quirky fashion choices in the wrong hands (think leopard print, pink velor and full Burberry prints), his take on festival wear is all about embracing what you love.
“I still dress like I did in my twenties,” laughs the 31-year-old. “But what I do a lot is wear two pieces, whether it’s white or navy or denim, like a denim shirt with denim shorts. I think that one color makes you look together like it’s not your first rodeo. I also love a statement runner or sock – a fresh pair of kicks is always a must. I would also sometimes take a hat to match my outfit just for the rain. There’s nothing worse than getting caught and whipped. An elegant bucket hat or cap is always nice to have in these moments.
“And I always have a fanny pack with me, they’re so, so handy for keeping everything in one place. Also, they are quite fashionable now! Bags are a no-go at festivals – I’ve lost so much out of the bag over the years – so get a bum bag that matches your outfit and gives you a bit of flexibility.”
Courtney Smith (35) needs no introduction when it comes to fashion. The stylist, creative director and style correspondent, who is as comfortable in cowboy boots as she is in stilettos, is the stylist, creative director and style correspondent’s mantra when it comes to festival wear, comfort, warmth and embracing what you have, especially when it’s on based on earlier epochs.
“At festivals and in real life I love to combine kimonos, fringed jackets and anything that adds a dramatic element like fringes, sequins or embellishments,” she says. “I don’t think my style has changed dramatically since my twenties, but it has evolved in terms of how I spend my money. So if I wanted a fringed jacket I would invest in a great piece that makes a statement but is timeless enough to wear again and again.
“I still love the 1970s and 1990s eras and I feel like I often find myself drawn to the pieces that best reflect those eras in terms of structure and subject matter.”
For those who go on picnics, Courtney offers some practical advice: “First, get comfortable and wear what you’re comfortable in. But since it’s also a festival, it’s the perfect time to experiment with your style and have fun. So if you’re not sure what to wear, I’d say wear mostly your own style and wardrobe and add a killer statement fun piece like a jacket or accessory.
“As for my non-negotiables? There will always be something with fringes.”
Five key pieces
1. Bucket Hat
No longer reserved for the gardeners and ravers of the 1990s, the new and improved bucket hat can be found everywhere on the runway and is the perfect staple for a weekend in the elements.
2. Vintage leather jackets
The most practical piece in your wardrobe – and the ultimate transitional outerwear – was made for the shabby-chic realms of summer festivals.
Not just for kids. Get wrapped up in the fashion equivalent of a hot water bottle as you roll through the fields to the stages. You will never, ever go back.
The OG model for casual use, these combat boots (now available in vegan leather) will last a lifetime and look good doing it.
5. Floral Dresses
Flouncy, smocked, grungy or poplin – whatever your style, a vibrant floral number will make you look effortlessly chic on a Sunday morning, even if you can’t find your phone, keys or wallet.
https://www.independent.ie/style/fashion/style-talk/what-to-wear-to-a-festival-when-youre-not-in-your-twenties-41935222.html What do you wear to a festival if you’re not in your 20’s?