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May 14, 2012

Chicago Manual of Style | Dress your fest

Ah, the joys of music festival season: Painted faces, questionably-bathed bodies clad in half-shirts and fringe, manktops and feathers as far as the eye can see. There’s no question that music fest fashion is a little outrageous, most notably on the part of the audience. But even though glittered-up showgoers usually draw more sartorial attention than the performers, the acts scheduled to appear at Summer Breeze this weekend promise to provide some interesting looks themselves. As we begin to plan our own outfits (come on, you’ve thought about it), let’s take a look at what to expect from the stage.

I’m wary of sentencing anyone to the realm of hipsterdom, but Alan Palomo of Neon Indian has trouble escaping this one. The tight pants, the vest, the buttoned-up button-down—yep, he’s got it. I’ve seen more than one photo in which he flaunts animal-themed shirts that conjure up memories of Three Wolf Moon (you know the ones: muted tie-dye encircling soft images of wolves or horses running through mist), and if that doesn’t scream hip, I don’t know what does. Though as much as people love to hate classic hipster fashion, you have to admit it can be great; in a way, the “I just rolled out of bed and into oversized glasses” mentality makes up the groundwork for festival fashion. Find a piece of string on the ground? Wrap it around your head! What’s that, a bottle cap? Now it’s an earring! Though Palomo probably isn’t one to take his outfits to such extremes, he has that hipster something that—I must say—just looks pretty cool.

Cults band members seem to inhabit a similar spot on the fashion spectrum: Madeline Follin regularly dons sweet dresses and flowy blouses, and Brian Oblivion seems comfortable in a fitted suit topped off with skinny tie. Pretty basic stuff until—whoa, that hair. Each chocolate-tressed performer flaunts a veritable mane so long it could be an outfit in and of itself (in Follin’s case, a coat—that thing has got to provide some serious warmth). Put a long wig on any Wicker Park–ite, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect from this group.

And then there’s Luda. Images of baggy pants, big chains, and bucket hats come to mind when we think of the charismatic musician, but his style has certainly changed since its “Area Codes” days. As Ludacris evolves into a practiced actor (do we call him Christopher Bridges now?), he has largely bid good-bye to the signature style that rolled onto the scene in the late ’90s, transitioning to more crisp looks fit for the red carpet and his new status as rapper-actor. If you’re looking forward to seeing the old Luda though, don’t be discouraged—no matter what he wears this weekend, he’s still rocking the same mustache we remember from the “Get Back” video (one can only hope he brings along the oversized arms as well).

So what can we, the nerdy masses, do to stand out in the midst of such stylish swag? Simple: Go a little crazy. If there’s anything we can learn from the weekend’s performers, it’s that there are no rules in festival fashion. If you look like an idiot, be comforted by the fact that no one around you really cares (and the fact that they probably look a little idiotic themselves). Leave your notions of “weird” at the gate, because the best part about music festivals is the fact that everything is a little weird, and everyone is a little too sweaty to notice. You know you’ll be spending the next three weeks in T-shirts and sweats, tucked away into the pallid-faced and over-caffeinated bowels of libraries, so why not be outrageous while you can? The weather should be lovely (fingers crossed), so get out your shades and your shorts, and let loose. Paint, bedazzle, braid, rip, feather, do anything you want—it’s music season, after all.

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