If you’re a festival-goer in the UK, you know the drill: it’s either going to be rainy and muddy or hot and dusty (or if you’re really lucky, both!), your clothes are going to be crammed into a rucksack and thrown around a tent in the dark, you’ve got limited access to mirrors but everyone’s going to be taking loads of photos. I love dressing up for festivals, but I’m sceptical of what’s often advertised as festival fashion on the high street (the combination of playsuit and portaloo is a no-go for me, I’m afraid), so I always see festivals as a chance to give some of my unloved clothes their day in the sun rather than investing in a new selection of impractical outfits.
There’s a reason why stylish-but-practical jackets, denim cut offs, wellies and chunky socks will always be festival staples; you’re ready for everything the weather might throw at you, and as my sister is proving here, you’re always camera-ready even when you are holding a broken long-drop door for a pal!
Clothes that are Too Much for the real world:
Festivals are a time to escape from day-to-day life and immerse yourself in the atmosphere that the organisers have created. There are no dress codes, so you can proudly wear clothes that might be hiding in your wardrobe because you feel they are too short, too low cut, too revealing for every day. I used to wear this dress a lot, then got a bit body-conscious, but I felt it was perfect to wear at Latitude to watch Sh*t Theatre’s show about Dolly Parton!
Whether the festival you are attending has a theme or not, we all have clothes we’ve bought for fancy dress parties that we can re-purpose as perfect festival wear. My sister had a white lace mini dress from a 60s theme party that we persuaded her to wear for the day as the bride-to-be for her festival-based hen do, and the high-street rucksack ended up being more than a novelty festival purchase, she's now a backpack aficionado!
Grab an on-site bargain:
While each year has its festival-fashion cliche, and there will be no shortage of stalls selling those things if you want them, vintage stalls and pop-up charity shops offer festival bargains that you’ll still want to wear long after you’ve finally stopped finding glitter everywhere. A couple of years ago I found a red pleated maxi-skirt in a pop-up vintage shop at Folk by the Oak which has become a wardrobe staple, and this year the Oxfam shop at Latitude had a fantastic selection of clothes, including a brand new Ted Baker coatigan which kept me cosy at the festival and will slot perfectly into my work wardrobe.
Find your own festival style:
We all have clothes we’ve bought for a certain event and haven’t been sure how to incorporate into our day-to-day wardrobes, or old clothes which are comfy but not eye-catching, so why not try mixing and matching some of these to create fabulous festival outfits? Christmas party tops paired with faded shorts, or a vintage dress worn with an old hoodie, beach-holiday sundresses with a cardi and leggings for a chilly evening, you’re bound to find something that suits the festival and your style.
Respect the festival site, respect your clothes, take them home with you!
Most festivals are getting much better at providing recycling facilities, re-usable cups and places to refill water bottles, but you can avoid adding to landfill at the end of a festival by packing up everything you came with, including your clothes, and taking them away with you! If you decide you can’t bear festivals and you’ll never have need of your festival-specific clothes again, wash them and take them to a charity shop, but it might be better to hang on to them; who knows when you might next need a sparkly Grecian muslin dress, or a glittery mermaid tail...