Monday, July 28, 2014

Music Festival Style (Do's and Don'ts)

Here in Chicago, all the hype this week is in anticipation of Lollapalooza coming up this weekend. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the smaller fests (with better lineups, IMO) like Riot Fest in September, or Pitchfork a few weeks ago, but there’s no avoiding the hubbub that comes with the Windy City’s biggest annual fest. Appropriately, I’m turning my eyes to festival style, and we’ve got a quick guide to keeping you good-looking while you rock out with get the idea. 

The best thing about trying to stay stylish at a summer music fest? The competition is darn slim, if any, which makes it easy to pick just a few easy updates and come out looking sharper than your average bear. Below, we walk you through the transition from schlubby festival-goer to presentable young music enthusiast to sophisticated-gent-who-just-happens-to-be-enjoying-the-tunes. Avoid the first, aspire to the third, and be proud and satisfied if you land in the middle. 


           AVOID                             ACCEPT                                              ASPIRE
People tend to just go for comfort, with no regard to style, and fest footwear is the perfect example of this tendency. Thinking only of the heat, they opt for flip flops (or, thinking only of standing on their feet, go for some sort of running shoe or gym shoe). What a lot of guys don’t realize, is that you can be comfortable and stylish. White canvas sneakers give a laid-back, continental vibe that just gets better as they get beat up (which is never a bad quality to have at a music festival). The breathable fabric keeps your feet cool, while the sneaker sole will be comfortable. Of course, if you want to take things up a notch, you can rock some slick penny loafers and no-show socks, or camp mocs for something a bit (just a bit) more rugged. Just remember that there’s a decent chance you’ll walk through the mud, get your feet stepped on and scuffed, etc., so pick a leather that can take a bit of a beating and leave your luxury leathers and suede at home.


  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
I’m not sure where people get the idea that gym clothes or pajamas are appropriate clothing to wear in public, all day long, but they’re wrong. End of story. Not only do your mesh shorts make you look like a 12 year old carpooling home from soccer practice, but they are also actually very impractical, and make for a sure-fire way to lose your ID, cash, and keys along with your dignity. Just as we recommend chinos over sweatpants, here we suggest that you opt for some chino shorts to beat the heat but stay sharp and sophisticated. All the appropriate pockets are included, and a crisp, lightweight cotton will be cooler and more comfortable than nylon athletic shorts anyway. To up your style quotient like a true gentleman, linen trousers are the way to go - the fabric is cool and breezy enough to make you forget you aren’t wearing shorts. Press them sharp in the morning, and then embrace the wrinkles as the day goes on for the perfect air of gentlemanly nonchalance.  

  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
To be perfectly honest, if you’re nailing the shoes and bottoms, your shirt becomes way less important - but notice we didn’t say, ‘your shirt doesn’t matter at all.’ Sure, even a band Tee or tank top will look OK when worn with some chino shorts and white canvas sneaks, but we still don’t recommend it. Rocking a short sleeve OCBD takes just as little effort, keeps you just as cool and unencumbered as you dance your pants off, and yet remains a sharp enough option to wear right to the bar after the show and have no hesitation making moves on that pretty gal (or guy) making eyes at you from across the room. Now, if you’re taking our high-style route, a Tee won’t even come close to cutting it. The SS OCBD won’t fail you, but take the opportunity to be a bit more fashion-forward and grab a popover - find one with a sharp print to embrace two shirting trends at once. 


  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
Accessories are no time to start slacking off, either, although we do understand if you want to avoid bringing $100+ sunnies into an environment where there’s a pretty decent chance of them getting lost, stolen, or demolished. That said, those $5 ‘wayfarers’ you picked up at the convenience store on the way in - the ones with neon arms and mirrored lenses - have the power to negate every other style move you’ve made and leave you firmly planted in ‘obnoxious fist-pumping frat boy’ sartorial territory. If you want to stick with something inexpensive, the same stores that you go to for affordable takes on high fashion will treat you right - we’re talking H&M, Topman, Zara, etc. Stand out from the crown with some on-trend clear frames, or imitate the classics with a pair of vintage-y aviators. Now, if you actually trust yourself to take care of something a little more valuable, get the real deal - we’d go for a pair of Ray-Ban clubmasters to channel some off-duty Don Draper.

  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
Whether it’s to keep the sun and sweat out of your eyes, or to adopt a more outgoing, music-loving vibe, a lot of guys will end up throwing on a hat that they would never wear otherwise. Unfortunately, that ratty baseball cap is far from the most efficient instrument to protect your eyes, and that Backstreet Boys fedora makes you look less like a hipster troubador than you think (if that’s even a look worth aspiring to). Honestly, we think the best middle-ground here is to forgo the hat entirely. Shove a bandana in your back pocket to wipe away the sweat, and let your shades do the heavy lifting when it comes to blocking the sun, and a hat really isn’t necessary. You’ll have one less thing to keep track of, and lose one more chance of throwing off your much-improved festival ‘fit. Of course, though, if you’re looking for top-notch style, a real, grown-up hat can be the touch to tie the whole outfit together. Just don’t shy away from a substantial brim (an easy way to avoid that adolescent Justin Timberlake vibe), and be ready to throw down a few pesos for quality. 

The Outfits (In Full):
  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
White Canvas Sneakers by Converse
Chino Shorts by J.Crew Factory
Short-Sleeved OCBD by Frank & Oak
Sunglasses by Topman

Penny Loafers by Jack Erwin
Linen Trousers by J.Crew
Print Popover by J.Crew
Sunglasses by Ray-Ban
Hat by Goorin Brothers

To Wrap It Up...
In the end, each style move is small on it’s own, but yields a pretty significant transformation. Instead of wearing a hodge-podge of marginally comfortable ---- you can, at the very least, look like a presentable, music-loving young man. Step things up a bit more, and you’ll look like you should be signing the bands, and not just blending in with the rest of the countless screaming fans. 

Got any plans to hit some music festivals this summer? What will you wear? Share in the comments!

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