Back in the day, during a high-energy, high-intensity Fishbone show I was in and out of the mosh pit and even climbed up onto the stage. You know how it goes at shows like that. You’re feeling the energy, getting really into it. But as I was getting ready to dive back into the crowd, I felt my shoe come off… and disappear! If you’ve ever been to a show like that one, you know you don’t want to go barefoot. Considering what to wear to a music festival isn’t just for fashion. Sometimes, it’s for survival.
When deciding what to wear to a music festival, consider everything. The weather, the venue, the genre of music, availability of shade, the fans who will be there, etc. You want to be ready for all elements, keep yourself protected, and be comfortable so you can focus on enjoying the moment.
We’re going to do a thorough deep dive into everything you should consider to be ready for a music festival. Keep reading so you can be prepared the next time you have tickets.
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By the way, that shoe did eventually come back. As I was making my way through the crowd about half an hour later, it came flying through the air and hit me on the head. I won’t tell you to pack your hard hat, but I’ll never wear slip-on shoes to a show again.
What to wear to an outdoor concert
From a concert in the park, laying on a blanket with a wine and charcuterie picnic, to sweating in the hot Coachella or ACL Music Festival sun, an outdoor concert will really run the spectrum when it comes to preparedness.
To prepare for an outdoor concert, always dress in layers, especially if there’s a chance of rain.
For concerts that will go from afternoon to evening, think about whether the temperature might drop. closed-toe shoes will help protect your feet and keep you comfortable if you’ll be standing up.
You never know if the elements will turn on you, although keeping a close eye on the weather will give you an idea.
Tips for dressing for an outdoor concert
Here are some more elements to consider when braving the “elements” at an outdoor concert:
- Will there be seats?
- Will it rain?
- Will there be shade? (summer)
- Will there be heat lamps? (winter)
- Will there be lockers or a coat check for items?
- Do you need a clear bag?
- Will you have a table, or is it standing room only?
A great rule of thumb is to only bring what you absolutely need. What essentials make it into your bag every time? Let us know in the comments what you don’t leave home without when deciding what to wear to a music festival.
We’ll go into greater detail about items and accessories in a moment, but let’s talk more about outfits.
Best clothes for an outdoor concert
You have to think about more than just your jacket! Here are some thoughts on the best clothes for an outdoor concert.
The best clothes for an outdoor concert will keep you comfortable, safe, and on-trend with the crowd.
Pick comfortable, secure, and closed-toe footwear, preferably not a brand new pair. Try to match the vibe of the show. Pick a layer like a jean jacket with pockets that zipper or button.
Your clothes should be comfortable, fashionable, and functional. You want to be protected from the elements and from pickpockets. Dishonest people are everywhere. Keep your valuables close in an inner pocket if you can.
Best shoes for a music festival
We’re really advancing the sneaker agenda, but are sandals that bad of a call to wear to a festival?
The best shoes for a festival or concert will come down to how much moving, walking, and dancing you’ll be doing.
If you’ll be in a mosh pit, closed-toe shoes will protect you, keep you comfortable, and provide ankle support. Sandals will be fine if you anticipate more sitting or lounging.
No one wants to lose a toenail in the mosh pit, and your feet will be incredibly dirty after a full day of standing around on a dirt lot. Sandals will work great for a more laid-back concert with plenty of seating or one that’s held somewhere grassy, but otherwise, protect your feet or you’ll be headed home sore.
Best bag for a music festival
For some, a list of “the essentials” could fill an entire suitcase, but let’s face it: when you’re going to a concert or festival, you need to be practical.
Here are some great bags for a festival or concert:
- Fanny pack
- Crossbody bag
Pack a bag that will be hands-free, and make sure you check to see if the venue requires it to be see-through or not.
Do I need to bring extra clothes to a music festival?
Along the same lines, you need to consider how long the festival will be. Do you need extra layers or even changes of clothing? If the festival goes for multiple days, you might.
Here’s a quick list of all the extras you might want to pack if you’re going to a festival for multiple days:
- Socks and underwear
- Undershirts – lightweight and great to change instead of your main outfit
- Jeans – won’t get smelly as quickly as leggings or joggers
- Bandanas – incredibly handy and versatile
- Sweatshirt or long-sleeved tee
If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll want to check out some tips for a few non-clothing recommendations that are incredibly necessary too:
- Baby wipes
- First aid kit
- Hand warmers
- Pocket knife
When you’re going to be away from your creature comforts for a few days, it’s amazing what you’ll find you ordinarily take for granted. Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever had one of those moments at a concert or what random item came in handy for you.
How to dress for a spring/summer concert
The time of year is going to make a big difference in how you dress for a festival or concert. You’ll always need sunscreen – thank us later – but there are other, less obvious suggestions that you’ll want to keep in mind.
To dress for a spring/summer outdoor concert, you’ll need to think about the following:
- A hat
- Thin layer like a windbreaker
- Comfortable, breathable fabric like athleticwear
- Sneakers or secure sandals, especially if you’ll be standing or moving
The sun is going to be strong when you’re outside in summer, so you’ll want to keep your face well-protected. Dressing in layers that breathe and keep you cool will help you stay comfortable during a long, hot day.
A long-sleeved tee might just become a lifesaver. There’s only so much sunscreen can do, after all, and if you aren’t used to being in the sun or traveling to a warmer climate, your skin won’t be prepared for the change.
How to dress for a fall/winter concert
If you’re heading to a place like Colorado, Lake Tahoe, or Canada for a festival this winter, you’re going to dress much differently than you did for the summer festivals and concerts. What to wear to a music festival will take on some other meanings as well. Skin protection will still be key, but your layers will be a lot bulkier.
To dress for a fall or winter concert, as with outdoor shows, layering is key.
You might get hot if you’re dancing, but wearing a t-shirt and sweatshirt under your coat will help you fine-tune your internal temperature. Keep gloves in your pockets and consider a warm hat or ear warmers.
Like before, a small bag might come in handy at a winter festival. You can keep lip balm or Vaseline in a bag or pocket and apply it to your lips and the corners of your nose to prevent chapping and windburn, depending on how exposed you are.
Prevent dry, chapped skin
A little tube of Chapstick or one of those mini tubs of Vaseline could easily become your best friend at any music festival! Your skin gets dry for so many reasons, from too much sun to strong winds.
To keep your skin protected and prevent dry, chapped skin at a concert or festival, simply rub a little petrolatum or lip balm onto your lips, the corners of your nose, or wherever your skin tends to get dry. A little under your eyebrows will also prevent sunscreen from running into your eyes when you sweat.
At a festival, you’re going to get dehydrated from singing and dancing, and if you’re outdoors, you’re probably going to get sunburned, too. Protective clothing and sunscreen, as well as a little dry skin protection, will keep you from looking totally dried out by the end of the night.
Enough of your mom talking to you. Time for the fun part of dressing for a festival: your vibe.
The perfect music festival outfit
The way you dress for a concert or festival is a sacred thing to many people. Entire marketing campaigns are designed around finding the perfect festival outfit. So, what is it?
The perfect festival outfit combines function with fashion, an outfit that you’ll feel comfortable in and look good wearing.
Try to match the aesthetic of the music as much as possible. Music and fashion are both artistic expressions, so a festival outfit is a way to participate in creating art.
Think fringe and embroidery for a folk concert or a vintage band tee for a punk show. You want to look at the part, and it’s fun to feel like a participant in the art instead of just a spectator. Let your imagination run wild!
What to wear to a music festival: Final thoughts
Once you pick up your tickets to a great music festival, there’s a lot to think about. Getting ready for an event requires planning. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a missing shoe – or worse!
When it comes to what to wear to a music festival, you don’t have to overcomplicate it. Pick something comfortable and secure, and match the aesthetic of the show as closely as possible.
Leave a comment and let us know what festival essential you can’t live without. Do you have a story like mine? Part of the fun of festivals is relishing in the fails, and everything is much funnier in hindsight!