Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How to Dress for Gov Ball (IMHO)

My third Governor's Ball Music Festival has come and gone, leaving me with some all too familiar souvenirs: muddy feet, a tender sunburn, and an increasing frustration with humanity. Yes, music festivals are about music, duh, but ask 80% of the crowd what they spent the past week preparing for and I'll bet you two overpriced beers their answer is not which bands to see, but rather what outfits to wear. I watched photographers stalk the fields looking for the next big festival trends and interesting silouhettes, and my heat ached with them because THERE WERE NONE. Now I'm no festival junkie, but I've religiously attended Austin City Limits for the past 11 years of my life and the only sartorial change I've seen is an increase in flower crowns and skin exposure. Sure, flash tats were an exciting addition in 2014, but when you're blinded by metallic designs everywhere you turn, they begin to lose their sparkle.

When I first moved to NYC, my city-savvy friends convinced me to invest in a ticket, and I naively showed up to the scene in what I deemed appropriate festival wear: rain boots for the rain  what else would you need? So I was surprised when I was asked to be photographed for Urban Outfitter's blog, and that's when I realized the Randall's Island hoopla was about more than just music. This concept was new to me because ACL hasn't quite caught up with the fashion-meets-music scene yet. So when I was at Nylon magazine I offered to snap some street style pics while I was home for ACL, but spent the three days in complete frustration and disbelief: not a single interesting or unique outfit. There just isn't a culture of pushing fashion boundaries at ACL, which is why I hadn't expected there to be such an emphasis on it at Gov Ball, but boy was I wrong.

This year I spotted more than a handful of style bloggers I recognized posing for pics in front of the graffiti art in their wide-brimmed hats and heart-shaped sunglasses, the bands playing behind them merely a pleasant soundtrack to their main event. But I'm not going to lie, I would be just as happy sitting in the grass licking an ice pop and people watching as I would standing in a sweaty crowd listening to Tame Impala. It's absolutely fascinating to see what the majority of the population chose to wear to New York City's big weekend out. But if this is the place to see and be seen, why does everyone wear the exact same thing? It's like the Gov Ball committee sent out a flier with an attached Urban Outfitters/American Apparel catalog and circled the three halter tops that would be allowed in and mine just got lost in the mail. Sure, it's a safe bet to roll up in what your friends are sporting, but where's the fun in that? The sky is the limit when it comes to risk-taking at a music festival, so why not take advantage of the three days of trend freedom? I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the fourteen-year-olds stumbling around in exposed bra straps and short shorts displaying what I can only describe as "under-butt cleavage."

But as I waded through the underage drinkers and first-time smokers, I began to wonder if I was wrong to be so condescending of this unspoken uniform. Is it really so bad to have a pack mentality when it comes to dressing for events? Is herd behavior really so shameful when it means sporting a tried-and-trusted outfit? No, of course not. But my disappointment lies in the lack of interest in trying something new. Every year I look forward to the new accessory that will define that year in festival wear, and every year I'm faced with the same make-your-own-flower-crown stand with an impossibly long line of tween girls.

So you're probably thinking, "Alright Chantal, if you're so high and mighty about music festival outfits what did you wear?" Well, nothing that will break the internet, but I spent the an afternoon combing through the racks at various thrift stores around my BK neighborhood to find one-off pieces that no one else would be wearing something interesting that most people would pass up, but if paired with the right accessories could actually be pretty badass (a much harder task than you might think, mind you). But I scored a rather fabulous retro jumpsuit from People of 2omorrow which I paired with a leather and snakeskin bag (below left). For the first day I threw on a silk robe my aunt and uncle picked up from Uzbekistan, a country I also recently travelled to and couldn't get enough of the incredible textiles (see above). And for the third day I went with a '70s wide-legged jumpsuit that zipped up the back (below right).

I got many nods of approval and compliments on my non-crop tops and was thrilled to be stopped by a few photographers and publications. But the main takeaway I got from my weekend in jumpsuits?

Peeing in porta-potties naked is the WORST.

Other than that, it was a pretty successful weekend of gawking and observing. But there are a few tips I would give a Gov Ball first-timer (take these with a grain of salt and a pinch of snobbery):
  1. Go to a thrift store to buy your outfit for guaranteed originality.
  2. Step away from the flower crowns.
  3. When it comes to footwear, practicality is key to endurance.
  4. LAYER! It might feel like a pain to truck that light sweater around all day, but when the sun sets not even Lana del Rey's crooning can keep you warm.
  5. There's no such thing as too much sunscreen. 
  6. I'm all for self-love when it comes to showing off your body (really, I am) but there is a certain fabric minimum required for shorts to be called shorts, and I would recommend sticking to that. I believe there has to be an inseam of sorts.
  7. If you have a chest that requires a bra, don't buy a backless halter top that barely covers your nipples. You will not be comfortable. Cheating the system and wearing a bra with it anyway is just as ill-advised. You have to know what works for you body, and stick with it. 
  8. There's no detail too small. Want to load up on your pin collection or heirloom rings? The strangers packed in next to you for that hour and a half set will appreciate every single one. 
  9. Remember that your purse it not just a cute accessory, but should also be able to hold your water bottle, wallet, snacks, camera, phone, keys etc. etc. So that tiny little fanny pack you were planning on buying? You might want to grab two. 
  10. On that note, backpacks/fanny packs are the way to go when it comes to carrying supplies. Hands-free dancing is the best kind of dancing.
There are a million other thoughts I have on the subject, but we'll keep it at that. So please, next time you're planning on hitting up Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo, accept the challenge to rise above the crowd and find yourself a getup that will shine. Might I suggest sequins?

P.S. IMHO = In my humble opinion.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Greg. Good, practical stuff. I just floated your article around my network. Keep up the good work.

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