I love festival season. There is something so magical about that liberating feeling you get knowing that you’re about to launch yourself in to a non-stop, energetic haze in a field, where everyone’s left the negatives of real life at the front door and they’re all about to become your new best friends.
I was chatting to my friend earlier (she’s a journalist) whose colleague (who has never set foot on festival ground) was writing an article on festival fashion. These articles are my most dreaded part of the build up to summer fun. Phrases like ‘festival chic!’ and ‘boho babe!’ are thrown around willy nilly as if we’re all going to be rolling out of our tents smelling of roses with nipple-length tousled locks each morning whilst cartoon bluebirds fly animatedly round our heads. Incorrect! The closest to ‘festival chic’ I’ve ever felt is when I stood close to a man wearing a helmet made out of a disco ball whilst watching Nile Rodgers at Camp Bestival a few years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for dressing up and having a bit of fun with what I’m wearing. I’m a big fan of glitter and partial to a bit of facepaint. It’s just all these ‘festival essentials’ that really drive me round the bend. Each year the lists contain the festival uniform: an abundance of fringed jackets, floral headbands, aztec prints, faux-leather bumbags, trilbies and Hunter wellies. I’m not saying wearing any of these is bad (I own a wonderfully battered, black suede, fringed jacket that I bought for a tenner from the Oxfam stall at End of the Road and it always comes back with me) but why must we follow these ‘trends’? What is truly wonderful about festivals is the creativity it brings out in people’s outfit choices.
It is only during these weekends spent in little green pockets of Britain that you will find somebody head to toe in waterproofs speaking to someone dressed as a peacock whilst their friend is busy throwing on the most mis-matched array of clothes just to keep a little warmer. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s not planned, and most of all, there’s no judgement. Everyone is in their comfort zone, whether they’re wandering around in jeans and a t-shirt or an ill-fitting wedding dress.
I can remember being a teenager and going to my first ever festival (Leeds, FYI). My friends and I spent weeks planning all our outfits, buying things especially to get that just-rolled-out-of-a-meadow-in-spring look, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t achieve (and never will). My overriding sad memory of that weekend was the queue for the GHD hair salon, chockablock with girls (and the odd emo boy) wasting their precious, expensive weekend ticket on making sure they would look the best in their photos.
Come on! That’s not what it’s about, it’s about dancing in the field until the balls of your feet ache with disco pleasure, it’s running to the next stage so that you don’t miss that band who’ll tug on your heartstrings and send shivers down your spine, it’s waiting for the euphoric drop from the DJ at 4am, it’s meeting new friends by making them sunglasses out of binbags (true story, we’ve been friends for three years now). It’s not giving a flying fuck, and that’s the best thing about it because there’s not many places in life where you actually get to do that, right?
This is why I hate these lists. I don’t want the magic to be ruined by self-concious girls with flowers in their hair, too scared to get their brand new outfits dirty on the dancefloor. That can be saved for your average Friday night on the tiles. Show a bit of personality, ladies! Ditch the pack list and just bring whatever the hell you know you’ll have the best time in, because that, boys and girls, is what it’s really about.
So while you’re dragging your floral jumpsuit out of the longdrops, (they’re just not practical in those situations, shove some shorts on under your dress if you want to flail around without exposing yourself) just remember that festival fashion is fun not chic, practicality goes a long way, and a smattering of glitter always helps.
And besides, who are we trying to kid? This is England. Have you SEEN the weather? No one will see what you’re wearing underneath that Regatta anorak.