Time was, you went to an outdoor concert as much to articulate your countercultural attitude as to revel in the music. Still, showing up made more of a statement than what you wore.
That was then, this is now, and now is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 15-17 and April 22-24) and the Stagecoach Festival (April 29-May 1). And now, what you wear can be as eloquent a message about your artistic appetite as the bands you choose to see.
The ambiance and music at Coachella are different from that of Stagecoach, but they have one concern in common: the weather. April in the desert can be hot, then cool, then windy. Festivalgoers spend long hours outdoors, and on their feet. So … how do you establish a look you like that’s also mindful of the elements that can turn a fabulous fest into a hot mess?
Body — Stagecoach Style
Three things in abundance here: flag-waving, country music, and ice-cold beer. Don your all-American attire and spin it with a good ol’ rock ’n’ roll twist. Bikini tops over Daisy Dukes make a splash in a sea of denim-clad dudes. Button-down plaid is a versatile layer over a Western graphic tee or lace tank atop your favorite jeans or cutoff shorts. Add a fringe vest to a babydoll floral dress, and guys, don’t forget your red, white, and blues. But, folks, use some horse sense and leave the overalls behind.
Body — Coachella Cool
Its international popularity and establishment support kinda pulls this festival out of its “alternative” roots, but there’s still a lot of cutting-edge music happening here. So your indie boho chic worn with designer labels is a workable relationship. Retro is the rage, especially midcentury modern patterns and pastel colors, as well as 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s pieces such as vintage rock tees and unisex cargo pants. Daytime shines the light on bare midriffs, crochet bikinis, cover-ups, guys in board shorts, and spicy get-ups galore. This year, off-the-shoulder blouses, flutter sleeves, and silk camis are in, and pair well with scallop-bordered shorts. As night falls, layer on a light jacket over a bold-patterned maxi or a chunky sweater over urban skinny- fit colored pants.
Feet — Stagecoach Style
One word: boots. Two styles: ankle boots and cowboy boots. Anything other than close-toed footwear is foolish. You’re going to want to roam this range, and it’s truly a dusty trail among the many attractions.
Feet — Coachella Cool
Soulful strappy sandals might look great, but don’t sacrifice your stems — you’ll be on your feet forever. Leave your heels at home and go for flat or wedge booties, thigh-highs, edgy motos or couture combats … here, too, you’re all about that boot, ’bout that boot, ’bout that boot!
Head — Stagecoach Style
Cowboy hats exude traditional Western charm, so you can choose your form of function. The classic “cattleman” style has a low crown and slightly curved brim designed to sit tight in windy weather. The “gambler” protects you from the elements with a large flat brim. The “pinch-front” and “outback” versions proliferate. Cowgirls cotton to softer, wide-brim straw hats. And star-spangled bandannas remain en vogue when fashioned as rocker headbands.
Head — Coachella Cool
Think: maiden. Embrace the gypsy spirit with a flowery vine entwined in your tresses. Dance across the polo fields bedecked in a chain headdress, bejeweled tiara, a circlet festooned with feathers. But give your skin a break: bring a hat and wear it frequently for shaded interludes. Retro sun hats, boho bowlers, faddish fedoras, and felt floppies are good looks here for both genders.
Hair — Stagecoach Style
Leave the ponytail to the ponies, and unfetter your wavy locks, or work them into a soft side braid. Basic styling won’t wilt under a hat and will create that “cute messy” look when shaken free.
Hair — Coachella Cool
Let freedom ring this spring. Whether your hair is super straight or as curly as chiocciole , let it go long and loose. Beachy waves and boho braids work and can be fixed into a simple twist bun.
Accessories — Stagecoach Style
A U.S.-flag-patterned backpack or canvas messenger bag helps keep your gear in check. Timeless aviators are de rigueur here, and you can bling them up with stacked silver jewelry and heavy turquoise accents. A vintage denim jacket looks good in moonlight, and a neck bandanna blocks the wind.
Accessories — Coachella Cool
A signature designer leather cross-body bag leaves your hands free to applaud. Lots of options for protecting your eyes: Ray-Bans, Oakleys, vintage round spectacles, or big cat-eye glasses. Layer lots of funky jewelry with a few statement pieces, or opt for a well-worn cuff, leather wraps, or stacked beaded bracelets.
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