How to dress for a festival - if you can't stand ‘festival chic’

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Moya Crockett
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Stylist contributor Moya Crockett has an aversion to the whole hipster-festival-flower style vibe - and presents four alternative festival looks for those in search of something a little less clichéd:

Festival season fills me with dread.

Don’t get me wrong: I love festivals. (I’m fun, I swear!) I love waking up under canvas next to my best friend, our wellies still on from the night before. I actively enjoy not showering for three days, and successfully putting up a tent still gives me a slightly pathetic Girl Power thrill, even if it’s just a pop-up from Argos. I love the spiralling sense of freedom and hedonism, the sparkle-eyed conversations under a 5am sunrise, the feeling of being reprieved from adulthood for one whirlwind weekend.

But I hate, hate, hate festival chic.

You know what I mean by festival chic. It’s tie-dye and crochet and paisley; crop tops, kimonos and ripped denim hot pants; flower crowns and big, floppy hats. It’s “boho luxe”; it’s Victoria’s Secret models in fringed suede waistcoats; it’s white girls in extremely inadvisable bindis. It’s everywhere, every summer, and I loathe it to my core. 

Partly – and childishly – this is because it looks stupid on me. Being about as boho luxe as a cardboard box, I just can’t pull it off. (As a 21-year-old undergraduate, I once had to convince a group of my fellow students that I was One of Them, not a lecturer. A girl nodded at my buttoned-up shirt and knee-length skirt and asked, “So why are you dressed like that, then?”)

But beyond that, I find the ubiquity of festival chic strangely depressing. Music festivals were originally supposed to be tiny little pockets of freedom; of rebellion, even. Isn’t it weird that so many of us end up dressing exactly the same? To paraphrase Will Ferrell as demonic fashion designer Mugatu in Zoolander: “There’s only one look, for Christ's sake! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!”

Some women can get away with it. The festival hipster-hippie vibe works on people like Florence Welch, who always dresses like she's just tripped out of Woodstock 1969, anyway. But since most women don’t regularly waft around in a cloud of patchouli with a feather in their hair, adhering to the look suggests that they’ve just gone onto Asos and bought anything with the word ‘Festival’ in the description before the big weekend. It’s dull as all hell.

So what’s the alternative? I’d almost like to suggest that we all say a collective “sod it” to the festival-industrial complex, and just turn up in our normal clothes – but then, that’s a different kind of sad. Remember last summer, when Kim Kardashian attended Glastonbury in a skin-tight black dress and spike heels? It was no different to how she normally dresses, but it looked strangely jarring and humourless against the backdrop of a Somerset field, like she was refusing to properly “join in”.

No: there’s nothing wrong with getting dressed up for a festival. But it is possible to do it without looking exactly the same as every other woman in a three-field radius. Here are a few alternative style suggestions – not a pair of denim hot pants in sight. 


Grey lyocell dress, £24.99, H&M (; MAC lipstick in Velvet Teddy, £15.50 (; suede biker jacket, £185, Topshop (; oversized crystal hoop earrings, Claire’s (

Biker jackets were everywhere at music festivals, but this suede number from Topshop is still unusual enough to be interesting. Worn over a simple grey shift, it’s sleek and practical. Team with a warm rosy lipstick and enjoyably glitzy earrings. 


Lace top, £29.99, Zara (; faux leather A-line skirt, £15, Boohoo (; silver bum bag, £11.99, Spiral (; Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish eye shadow in Comex Platinum, £33.50 (

All-white is a risky choice for a muddy UK festival, so a faux-leather skirt is a brilliant idea (wipe clean!). And you obviously can't go wrong with matching your foil eyeshadow to your bum bag.


Embroidered bralet, £32, Topshop (; gold leaf hoop earrings, £6, Asos (; check trousers, £35.99, Mango (; Daniel Sandler Luxury Matte Lipstick in Marilyn, £13.25 ( 

Festivals are the perfect place for OTT makeup, but if you’re not a fan of glitter, opt for a bright, matte lip. These cropped gingham trousers and red lipstick say Marilyn Monroe; the top and earrings say Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance. A winning combination. 


Bomber jacket, £48, River Island (; Rock’n’khol liquid eye pencil in Bedroom Black, £19, Charlotte Tilbury (; blue off-the-shoulder dress, £65, & Other Stories (; green cat-eye sunglasses, £19.99, Mango (; Glam Lipgloss in High Society, £7, Nyx ( 

Rich pastels look great with a summer tan, and this & Other Stories dress has a casual hippy vibe without being too on-the-nose. Smoky black eyeliner and bright green sunglasses keep things from being saccharine.  

Images: Getty, Rex Features

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Moya Crockett

Moya is a freelance journalist and writer from London, and a former editor at Stylist.