When an invite for Splendour in the Grass arrived in my inbox, I was both delighted and stumped. Hooray! A music festival! Bring on the mosh! This was followed by a quick sense of dread. What will I wear? Will I be cold at night? Was I too old? I had not graced the sinking slosh of a UDL-soaked festival since Stereosonic 2011 – and even then I felt mature-age. Now I’m no ageist. I firmly believe age shouldn’t handicap anything or anyone, but personally I do feel my music festival days are behind me (along with some very questionable fashion choices). But this is Splendour in the Grass we’re talking about. This is Childish Gambino. This is Chance the Rapper. This is Tame Impala. Could I brave the Smirnoff-slosh for one last, very loud hurrah? Of course I could. But what do I wear? What does a 33-year-old wear to a music festival and not look like a try hard doing so? And is it still appropriate to order Smirnoff Double Blacks in bulk and stack them like jenga so you don’t have to wait in line for another round? Ah, so many questions. So, so many answers.
While I can’t responsibly solve the stacked Smirnoff riddle, I can impart some fashionable festival advice for those older folk still wanting to attend a festival and look reasonably stylish. I have devised a fashionable plan which substitutes the daring, skimpy and rather questionable festival fashion of my youth with options that are both stylish and a little more modest. Take, for example, the incredulously short, bum-baring denim cut-offs of years gone by. I shudder to think at the level of peach exposed, now chuffed at the long short / pedal pusher’s revival. Because unlike the days of #shreddingforStereo, I’m now #bulkingforSplendour – adding a few extra layers to prepare myself for the possible cold of the Byron hinterland. Meaning? No denim hot-pants for me.
Here, a fashion breakdown of what my teen self wore and its modern day, modest and painfully practical equivalent – all available at The Iconic. Remember, don’t forget to pack that cardigan, kids.
Your Teen Self: tiny Denim Cut-Offs
Your Current Equivalent: Long-line Denim Shorts
Thankfully, shorts have taken a modest turn and returned to Bermuda territory, which hover at knee-length (and not cheek length), with the Carrie-approved, long-line denim short now a fashion staple – and my festival short of choice.
the long shorts, redone, $362. shop now
Your Teen Self: Fluoro Tee
Your Current Equivalent: Tie-Dye Tee
One word. Stevie. No Stereosonic, no Summadayze, no Future Music Festival was complete with a blinding injection of neon namely in the form of then-brand, Stevie. No wonder we all wore ginormous sunglasses. The update? Tie-dye. Glorious, soft, mottled tie-dye.
Honolulu cotton jersey tee, Georgia Alice, $275. shop now
Your Teen Self: Bodysuit / playsuit
Your Current Equivalent: blazer dress
Two words. Portable. Toilets. NOTE: THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN A BODYSUIT / JUMPSUIT / ONESIE OR ANY KIND OF ALL-IN-ONE SITUATION AT A MUSIC FESTIVAL. I have learnt the hard way, trust me. In retrospect, the bodysuit / playsuit’s popularity at music festivals now boggles my mind, a logistical disaster in both respects; why combine fashion’s trickiest style with hordes of sweaty people and three port-a-loos? Baffling, to say the least. Consider an equally fun, cut-out blazer dress like By Johnny’s delicious lilac number instead. Still cute, but super conveneient.
eden cut-off blazer dress, by Johnny, $400. shop now
Your Teen Self: String Headband / Flower Crown
Your Current Equivalent: Headband / Hair Clips
I firmly believe I’m not of age to be prancing around in a flower crown, but headwear is a like a sartorial sine qua non at festivals (remember that one single piece of string we wrapped around ironed-out mullets and called it a headband? Gasp!). A wide, wraparound headband is the chic option, or, if you’re feeling a little more playful than prim, choose neo-nostaglic hair clips and affix close to the temple.
Monica headband, ford millinery, $90. shop now
Your Teen Self: The Cross-body bag
Your Current Equivalent: Belt Bag
A fabulous solution to the ol’ drink + dance + bag juggling act, fashion’s unwavering fixation with the belt bag proves its worth at a festival; both practical and cool. Stack those UDLs and get moshin’.
houndstooth belt bag, Jaggar the label, $130. shop now
Your Teen Self: Skimpy skater dress
Your Current Equivalent: midi Tea frock
My music festival modus operandi read something like this: the shorter, the better. The tighter, the even better. So instead of a flimsy skater dress which leaves little to the imagination, I’m proposing a long-line tea frock which leaves a lot to the imagination. I’m currently obsessed with Maggie Marylin’s apple green, sustainable dream (yay!), a touch demure and playful all the same. Team with a pair of sneakers and cute socks to ground the look and keep it day-appropriate.
It’s up to you dress, Maggie Marilyn, $715. shop now
Your Teen Self: oversized tinted sunglasses
Your Current Equivalent: Neo-Nostalgic 90s frames
Ah, what would a music festival be without a pair of sunglasses? Arguably the most important item at any festival, our old festival days were marked by both rainbow-hued, rimless sunglasses and face-hogging wrap-around styles, both of which dominated the early 2000s. Frames today are revelling in the past but the decade prior, with 90s-inspired eyewear on the rise. I’ll be wearing Le Specs’ The Ginchiest in black; a stylish take on 90s eye-dressing – sans the spoof.
the ginchiest, le specs, $80. shop now
Your Teen Self: Canvas slip-ons
Your Current Equivalent: Chunky sneaker
Lucky for your feet, the acceptance of sneakers as a fashionable statement is high, with ugly footwear now chic not cheap. Complete any outfit with a chunky sneaker and dance the day – and night – away in both comfort and style.
v-12 unisex sneaker, veja, $180. shop now