Festival fashion. The two words guaranteed to create content for blogs and magazines during those slow months between Fashion Weeks. Festival fashion. The two words also guaranteed to set me off on a rant more epic than any delivered by Kanye at an awards ceremony.
I’m not quite sure when festival fashion became a ‘thing’. When I started going to festivals back in the rose-tinted days when a Leeds ticket cost less than £100 and King Adora were higher on the bill than The Strokes I honestly can’t remember deliberating over my wardrobe choices. My ‘festival fashion’ pretty much consisted of my normal ‘fashion’ (a term in itself a stretch considering my early-noughties wardrobe) but with added eyeliner and glitter, as befitting a MASSIVE MANICS FAN. Much higher up my priority list was how many bands I could possibly see across the weekend, why did everything HAVE to clash and what the cheapest, yet most potent, combination of alcohol to take was (Vermouth FYI. Cheap vodka may seem like a good idea but it generally equals death. Death and vomit.).
These days however, festivals are big business and VIP areas and the chance to swap your humble tent for a yurt seem to be the norm. Fashion magazines fall over themselves to offer tips on Glastonbury packing and hold up D-list celebs as pantheons of festival style. Now I’m not against wanting to dress like your idols (Courtney Love at Glastonbury in 1999 will *always* be my go to inspiration) and musical tribes are defined as much by their uniforms as by the artistes they revere but at no point should Daisy Lowe (who in a magazine article last year listed a YSL kaftan as being ‘essential’) be elevated to a fucking festival fashion oracle. The endless articles churned out seem to be written by people who’ve either never attended a festival (or never left the VIP area) and are inane at best. At worst they’re reductive and assume women only go to festivals so they can pretend to be Alexa Chung for the day (a rant better articulated by Gemma Samways’ recent Drowned In Sound piece). Whilst I’d like to think that the lack of similar articles geared towards men is simply down to the fact that Oliver Cheshire hanging out in the V Festival hospitality area will never be viewed as a figure of aspiration, I sadly doubt it.
So, as a seasoned festival goer with over a decade of hanging out in fields under my belt (and surviving two years of riots at Leeds festival) here is my own decidedly non-Vogue festival advice…
1) Never wear open toed sandals to a festival. Even if it’s *really* hot.
Yes, we all yearn for a festival that doesn’t descend into a mud bath within the first 10 minutes of pitching your tent but even if a festival is blessed with endless sunshine and ground seemingly drier than George Osborne’s tear-ducts as he slashes welfare, it will still be damp underfoot in places and that dampness won’t be from rain. Best case scenario, it’s beer. Worst case, wee. Either way, it’s still not something your open toes should be exposed to and even if they survive ‘suspicious mud’, they still run the risk of being jumped on by large, overenthusiastic men in the crowd.
2) Wellies will never let you down and don’t have to cost a fortune.
I’m not entirely sure why wellies which cost more than the price of the festival ticket are now considered de rigueur. I come from Yorkshire where to spend anything over a tenner on wellies would be considered ‘balmy’ and those from Primark, Asda, Matalan or anywhere else budget friendly do just as good a job of keeping your feet dry as the posher brands. Just avoid the ones with heels – you will look like an idiot AND fall over.
3) Bin bags are your new best friend.
Yes it’s fun watching a million bands over the weekend but it’s also bloody knackering and the joy of sitting down without fear of being covered in mud/ suspicious mud/ half eaten noodles/ vomit is pure bliss. Bin bags are also handy as makeshift raincoats or for hurriedly bundling up your possessions in the middle of the night as the campsite has been set of fire and the sight of exploding portaloos signals that it’s probably time to leave…
4) Playsuits are not your friend.
One word – portaloos.
5) But tights are.
They’re cheap. They come in a variety of thicknesses and can be layered if it gets really cold (the hill overlooking the Leeds main stage is the coldest place on earth once the sun goes does). Plus unlike jeans, they dry pretty quickly if you end up drenched in a downpour (or binned and replaced).
6) It’s fine to pay for a VIP upgrade but it’s not actually VIP
The last few years have seen a rise in the number of ‘VIP’ festival upgrades offered. Yes it’s fine if you want to hang out with the cast of Hollyoaks, have a slightly shorter bar queue and marginally better toilets (having attended and now work on festivals, I could devote an entire blog post to the festival toilet hierarchy – the ones in the artistes area are like being at The Ritz) but it’s not really VIP and doesn’t get you a better view of the acts. If you want to pay, fine but personally I’d prefer to spend the money on the entire contents of Lush to rid myself of the festival grime once I’m safely back home.
7) Camping is never enjoyable but you can make it better.
I *really* hate camping and have always camped under duress at festivals. As soon as I get there I’m counting down the days until I can return to my nice, soft bed because I love sleep and camping very rarely equals sleep. I envy people who can stay up all night, have a quick 30 minute powernap and continue on the next day without looking like death because I’m not one of those people. I need at least eight hours a night to feel human and unless you’ve knocked yourself out with an entire liqueur cabinet, you won’t get that at a festival. Over the years, my festival camping kit has expanded to include an inflatable mattress, a pillow and a massive knitted blanket bought onsite for a fiver from Oxfam so I don’t wake up shivering to death at 5am because a sleeping bag never keeps you warm enough during a British summer. Oh and a collapsible wash basin to try and stave off the feeling of griminess as long as possible.
8) A field is not the place for high fashion.
Cover yourself in glitter, stick on a flower headband if you *really* have to (although everyone will judge you and they’ll probably be correct) but don’t bring anything with you that you can’t afford to lose or ruin. ‘Suspicious mud’ will never come out of this season’s must have suede bag and white is never, ever a good choice.
The above is only advice and should not been taken as rules for life. If you want to wear white, do it. Sandals? I will do my ‘told you so dance’ when the ‘suspicious mud’ wins but whatever floats your boat. Wear what makes you happy but please don’t see festivals as an extension of fashion week – go to them to see some amazing bands, get pissed and have a laugh with your mates whilst hurling abuse at Kasabian. The bloggers and ‘celebs’ with perfect make-up, non-greasy hair, pristine outfits and £1000+ kaftans doling out advice are not figures to aspire to and neither are their wardrobes. Dave Grohl and Florence Welsh don’t give a shit what you wear to see them play and neither should you.
December seems to have flown by and I can’t quite believe we’re only five days away from Christmas! I’ve barely had time to catch my breath over the last few weeks and as well as a fantastic trip to London to see the Meadham Kirchhoff V&A Fashion In Motion show, most of my time has revolved around hitting the big 3-0. Now that I’ve almost recovered from an epic birthday weekend which included a go on a helter skelter (because that’s what grown ups do isn’t it?!), I thought I’d share some of the gorgeous presents I was given.
After blogging about it way back in June, I finally got my hands on an a-england ‘Rose With Thorn’ necklace in rose gold. It’s so beautiful and delicate in real life and definitely a piece I will treasure forever. A grown up birthday also demands a slightly more grown up wallet than my current Liberty Print Hello Kitty one so this Biba leather wallet is perfect!
Once a Manic Street Preachers fan, always a Manic Street Preachers fan so this Babycham gift set from one of my oldest friends (who’s also in the ultracool band Pris) really reminds me of my misspent youth. Coupled with an amazing mix CD (including a cover sleeve feature some of my more dubious outfit choices), this was the perfect nostalgia present.
It’s always lovely receiving presents on my ‘a bit too indulgent to justify treating myself to’ wish list so I felt like a very lucky girl this year. I’m a sucker for a good red lippy with MAC’s ‘Lady Danger’ being my go to shade (nothing like a strong lip to distract from you looking like death, a trick I employed over the days spent recovering from my birthday!) so I was glad to receive a new one to replace the rapidly running out tube in my handbag. I was also given the slightly darker matte red shade ‘Ruby Woo’ which I always debate buying when the weather turns autumnal but can never decide between it and ‘Russian Red’. I’m glad my sister took the dithering out of my hands and picked this shade on my behalf as it makes me feel very glamorous which is just how you should feel on your birthday!
Another brand I have trouble with is Jo Malone – there’s just too much choice! My friend who really knows her way around the range got me a bottle of the gorgeous smelling ‘Earl Grey & Cucumber’ cologne and my heart leapt at the sight of the little black and white box tied with their distinctive ribbon.
I’m not sure when owls became my thing (although I possibly kicked it off after buying a fantastic Lea Stein Buba Owl Brooch on eBay) but now most birthdays seem to feature them. For my 30th I was given this cute silver owl necklace from the shop at Manchester Art Gallery which matches a ring I have. I love a good art gallery or museum gift shop and my new necklace proves what amazing treasures you can find!
Completing the glam theme is this stunning Karen Mabon silk scarf. Again this is a brand I’ve previously blogged about and I utterly love Karen’s quirky designs. I’ve now got my fingers crossed that the Midnight Feast scarf from her winter collection is waiting for me under the Christmas tree…
I think it’s fitting that my final gift combines both my love of literature and, er, hot men… Pulp! The Classics is a new imprint which gives classic novels retro looking pulp fiction covers with a twist. Whether you like your Pride And Prejudice with a side order of Colin Firth’s ‘Darcy’ or, like me, the eternal youth of Gosling as Dorian Gray, the eight novels in the collection will not only brighten up any bookshelf but are also guaranteed to raise a smile from fellow commuters during the rush hour slog!
A few weekends ago I headed down to London as my other half was running the marathon. Aside from watching the marathon itself, drinks on the South Bank and seeing how lovely the area around Greenwich is in the sunshine, one of the other highlights of the trip was a visit to the V&A’s David Bowie is.
Although I’ve never been a die hard Bowie fan, I’ve always been into his music and a lot of bands, artists and writers I love have either influenced or been influenced by Bowie’s work. The exhibition is the first international retrospective of his career and the V&A were granted exclusive access to Bowie’s personal archive in order to create it. Charting the influence of his childhood and upbringing on his early work and the various factors which contributed to his ever changing style and reinvention, the exhibition uses over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, stage designs, photographs and costumes to flesh out one of pop’s greatest enigmas. There are dedicated rooms to his studio recordings, the Berlin years and his (surprisingly) prodigious acting appearances on stage and screen which are interlinked by various music videos, live performances and original stage costumes. The exhibition culminates in a vast central space with floor to ceiling screens across three walls all showing live performances by Bowie whilst the iconic costumes from his career peer spookily out at you from behind black gauze.
As the content of the exhibition comes from Bowie’s personal archive, it’s almost as interesting to see what’s been left out as what’s been included. As far as I could see, there was no mention of his folk roots or the influence of his first wife Angie Bowie, and the Berlin section only had a very brief mention of Iggy Pop. It’s odd that there are such omissions when Bowie’s cocaine spoon made the cut!
To accompany the exhibition, the ever wonderful V&A Shop has produced an assortment of David Bowie is merchandise to satisfy your inner fangirl (or boy) which ranges from some very beautiful, if very expensive, prints and photographs to more whimsical (and cheaper) t-shirts, plectrums and stickers. My personal favourites are the Bowie tote bag and the Scary Monsters pin badge.
David Bowis is is on at the V&A until 11th August and well worth catching if you can manage to get a ticket. Oh and just to prove how beautiful Greenwich is in the sunshine (even at 9am on a Sunday!), see below. Hopefully I’ll get chance to explore it more on a future visit.
So, I was going to make my first ever blog post one of those introductory ‘look at me!’ type of affairs and then I got distracted by these Topshop beauties:
In my head, they’re the embodiment of Tarantino’s True Romance in shoe form and provide the perfect pop of colour for dancing away the (hopefully to come) hot summer nights. Come pay day they will be mine! Accessorizing with Christian Slater is optional…
And speaking of all things True Romance inspired, it gives me the perfect opportunity to link to a demo of Pris’s song of the same name, enjoy!