Festivals, hardly the most stylish affairs when you consider they’re back to back days of music, mud and irregular bowel movements.
So why should you care about what you wear? Well, to a point, you shouldn’t. Whatever garments you choose to clothe yourself with run a high risk of being ruined. Mud, rain, beer and sweat are all enemies here, so it’s best to opt for the inexpensive, although, of course, you want to look good – you are reading FashionBeans after all.
To that end, before you head off to pitch your tent, get your wardrobe ready for everything a festival can throw at you with this complete guide to slumming it in style.
Why Does Festival Style Matter
It’s not hard to remember a time when the very notion of ‘festival style’ for guys didn’t exist, left instead to the fairer sex and their predilection for glitter and questionable feathered headgear.
Cut to the present day and what fellas wear to such events is big news, with celebrity style icons and their getups often earning more headlines than the music, along with shopfronts everywhere suggesting pieces to pack for a weekend in the wilderness.
The reason for this is that men have come to see festivals as a place to experiment with their looks, have some fun and (almost definitely above all else) splash out on a few new pieces. That said, you don’t want to part with significant amounts of cash without some prior thought. Shop too impractical and whatever you chose to wear will likely end up in the bin. Shop too recklessly and those pieces won’t see the light of day in your usual rotation.
To help you on your way and ensure you spend more time catching up on your favourite bands’ back catalogues and less time worrying about what’s on your back, here’s our advice on what to wear to a festival this summer.
Festival Style Tips
Apart from avoiding dodgy face paint that will almost certainly cause you to break out in hives, if you’re a regular festival goer you’ll know there isn’t much in the way of style rules while in attendance. Though there are a few guiding principals to make it a more enjoyable (and stylish) experience.
Invest In A Waterproof
Without sounding like an overbearing parent: it’s important to use protection. Some solid outerwear will shield you (and your outfits) from potential downpours, be that rain or the spilt beer from the guy on his mate’s shoulders.
“A raincoat would be my first choice,” says Samuel Smith, a stylist who has worked with the likes of Harrods, Oki-Ni and Adidas Y-3. “The design is based on those worn by Swedish fishermen, so they’re the real deal.”
Easily combined with a T-shirt or sweatshirt and a pair of denim shorts or jeans, a raincoat is that essential festival all-rounder that delivers on both the form and function counts. If you’re going to spend big on one item, make sure this is it.
Go For Sturdy Footwear
The Pope is Catholic, bears do their business in the woods (although hopefully not near your tent) and — continuing the theme of obvious statements — a festival is no place for a pair of crisp white sneakers.
In addition to a hard-working outer layer, you’ll require some sturdy footwear to make wading through muddy fields as painless as possible.
Providing they aren’t entirely destroyed by the end of the final set, a pair of sturdy work boots will get plenty of wear post-festival. If, however, the weather forecast looks wetter than a haddock’s bathing costume, opt for some classic Wellington boots with a rubber sole that will give you the grip you need on uneven terrain.
When It’s Really Hot, Go T-Shirt And Shorts
Let’s face it, if your festival falls in summer as most do, you won’t want to wear much when standing outside all day in the scorching heat.
In this case, your wardrobe choices will require closer inspection. Stick to simple T-shirts cut from lightweight cotton and twill rather than denim shorts. In a similar vein, swerve anything too skinny or tight and steer instead towards pieces like boxy Cuban collar shirts rendered in free-flowing viscose.
Bold colours and jazzy prints are more than welcome — if not encouraged — at a festival, but for something more pared-back that you’ll find yourself wearing again, a striped top is a perennially on-trend staple that shows you know more than the words to the current song.
Stick To The Classics
If you’re after a failsafe festival outfit that doesn’t scream try-hard, it’s difficult to go wrong with a leather biker jacket worn with slim jeans and Chelsea boots.
Aside from consisting of largely wipe-clean pieces, a slim or straight-leg will be significantly easier to traipse around in for two days than, say, a stiff pair of drainpipe skinny jeans, and Smith recommends opting for raw denim “which is very hard wearing.”
Better yet, the constituent parts of this outfit form the basis of countless evergreen outfits and benefit from a little roughing up to acquire a worn-in, vintage look. So get in that mosh pit.
Don’t Store Valuables In Your Tent
Aside from all the stuff you need to cart around, a tent is not the most secure place to leave valuables. “It’s essential to have everything that matters with you,” says Giles Farnham, head of the River Island Style Studio.
Backpacks are easily the most effective way of lug your goods around, plus they require no hands, leaving room for a drink in each. “It’s perhaps the ultimate male accessory, not to mention a very practical and essential festival item,” adds Farnham.
If a bulging backpack feels a bit much, or you don’t want to slum it with your fancy sports-luxe one, try a cross-body bag instead. “The cooler alternative to a bum bag, they look great and are ideal for carrying all your festival needs,” adds to ASOS’ Lawrence.
Don’t Forget Sunglasses
Unless you enjoy trying to watch your favourite band while also forcibly squinting at the sun, you’re going to need a pair of sunglasses. And even if it’s not sunny, we have one word for you: hangovers.
“They’re a must-have for being out in the sun all day and even better at covering those dark circles after a night of partying,” says ASOS head of men’s design, James Lawrence.
For a while now the festival preference for opticals has lent towards brightly coloured and mirrored shades, which helpfully have become headline pieces of late. Whichever pair your plump for, just make sure they suit your face shape and your overall style once back on dry land.
6 Festival Pieces You Can Wear After
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that shopping with just a few days of the year in mind will see your cost-per-wear ratio plummet. With that in mind, here are six essential menswear pieces you can wear in the portaloos then in the pool, at parties and beyond. Just stick them on a boil wash first.
Whether it’s the pure shores of Lake Como or just a lake-sized puddle at Glastonbury, when the sun’s out in full force, the temptation is to get naked and jump into the nearest body of water. Don’t.
Keep your modesty intact and pack a pair of swim shorts instead. Not only are most made from quick-drying fabrics, so you’ll spend less time sodden in front of the main stage, you’ll also be well equipped by the time you hit the departures lounge in a few months.
A fuss-free sweatshirt, one of the key weapons in any festival arsenal, is helpfully also a power player in the everyday wardrobe.
Not only do they look great teamed with jeans or chino shorts, or worn in the place of a jacket when the sun goes down, inexpensive options mean you won’t care too much about using it to sit on/as a towel.
Of course, not all festivals require you to get knee deep in horse, erm, horse, you know. Some of the world’s biggest and best happen in places like Malta and Portugal, making attending an excellent excuse to invest in some new kicks.
When there’s no risk of the ground swallowing you up, turn to the comfort of slip-on sneakers, which — in case you needed any more convincing — never fail to hit the right notes when worn with jeans or shorts.
The Hawaiian Shirt
The only thing to wear while sinking cocktails with a miniature umbrella in them, it’s little wonder the Hawaiian shirt has become the go-to piece for stars of stage and screen when the mercury rises.
A big hitter for the current season, don a traditional Hibiscus-covered style for a festival statement piece then tone it down tucked into chinos or worn under a suit the very next week.
Mercifully, sweatpants have undergone a serious image upgrade over recent seasons, which means they’re no longer the reserve of tearaway youths and gym bunnies. What’s more, this new, cool breed of joggers makes for perfect festival legwear.
Sure, they’re amazing for lounging about in (you can come back to that), but they’re also ideal for shuffling about to your favourite band or DJ in when it’s too hot for jeans but too cool for shorts. Just make sure you go for a pair in a dark shade, capable of enduring all the filth a festival can chuck at them.
Not as thick as a coat, but not as flimsy as an Oxford button-up, an overshirt (or ‘shacket’) is the ultimate piece for surfing the gap between seasons, but also comes in handy when surfing the crowd, too.
Easily stashable, and often kitted out with plenty of pockets in which to store your essentials, the overshirt is the cousin of the chore jacket which, considering it worked for French factory workers in the early 20th century, is another excellent option for when standing in line at the bar.