Say no to 'festival fashion': The realistic guide of what to take to a music festival.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Right, I don't mean to be rude here but I just have to get this off my chest... what the hell is with these whimsical 'festival fashion' features written by other bloggers out there? I mean I love a bit of whimsy but as a seasoned festival goer with almost 30 festivals under my belt I have got to raise my eyebrows a bit at the mention of taking along items of clothing worth hundreds of pounds, and a rucksack full lotions and potions. I know spending a weekend in a field doesn't mean you give up all hygiene standards but there's a balance to be found here. So I want to write a realistic guide for any of you out there who have yet to jump onto the music festival bandwagon, hopefully I can be of some help to people out there with little clue as to what they need to pack into their rucksack which you're going to live out of for the next 5/6 days.

The Basics
Tent - my rule of thumb is that I try to take a tent with space for two more 'men' than is actually in my group, you'll need the extra space for all your stuff and it makes your living quarters a bit easier to manoeuvre in, especially when you're getting dressed. Generally you want to make sure its double skinned, the weather can be really unpredictable as we all know and the extra skin acts as a barrier between the wet outer skin and the inside of the tent. If you can't stretch to that than make sure you keep all of your stuff from touching the sides of the tent if it does rain.
Tickets - This ones obvious but you'd be surprised that its quite often overlooked, make sure you have all tickets with you including early entries, parking or campervan passes. I like to put them in a plastic wallet and attach it to the front door the night before we set off.
Clothing - Unless you're going for the au naturelle look you'll need to think about what you're going to wear. This is where my advice is probably going to differ from a lot of 'fashion' bloggers out there, you don't need to totally compromise your personal style but please be sensible, you're going to be in a field, chances are there is going to be mud and dirt around, chances are you're going to get various liquids poured over you, chances are its going to rain at some point, please don't bring that £200 cashmere jumper. Layers are your friend at festivals, vest tops, t-shirts, cardigans, hoodies, kaftans are all good options and the warmer it gets you can peel each layer off, likewise adding extra the colder it gets. If you can avoid jeans, if it rains it will be your worst nightmare... denim just does not dry easily. I like to take leggings and tights because if it gets hot I can easily whip them off at some point and I can wear them with shorts or dresses. Playsuits make you feel like Alexa Chung but trust me, when you're desperate for the loo, a little bit drunk and trying to unzip yourself inside a dirty portaloo you'll curse the decision. Take one complete outfit that you can keep dry and clean inside a bin bag for the end of the weekend, you'll appreciate getting into it for the journey home. An example outfit, cheap supermarket clothing is your friend!


Shoes - Take wellingtons, even if its forecast to be 30 degrees every day with not a cloud in the sky. We live in the UK, its better to be prepared for the worst. The minute it starts raining wellingtons become a precious commodity on a festival site and the traders will be making a mint out of your desperation for dry feet. Wear them when you travel to save on backpack space and take along another pair of dry-weather shoes, the sturdier the better, you'll be doing a lot of walking.
Hygiene - Toilet roll, hand sanitiser and baby wipes are your friends (you'll probably get acquainted with the infamous 'baby wipe bath at some point during the festival). I also take face wipes for quickly removing make up, a small bottle of face wash, deoderant, SUNCREAM (even if you think you don't burn, you're going to be spending ALL of your week outside), handcream, lipsalve preferably with SPF in, burnt lips are not nice! and leave in conditioner. I usually don't bother washing my hair, but conditioner helps me to comb through the tats by the end of the week! Toothbrush & toothpaste.
Hair - Bobby pins, hair bobbles and a head scarf. You can go with the best intentions to keep your hair looking super sleek but the second you set off you will be hot and bothered lugging round your life on your back and it'll be ruined. Up-dos are the best choice, fishtail braids, top knots, ponytails. Or just take my lead and cover it all in a head scarf!
Food and Drink - If you're taking alcohol make sure its decanted into plastic bottles. Be sensible make sure you get plenty of water even if you're drinking alcohol, the atmosphere makes it quite easy to get blind drunk and get yourself into trouble, from personal experience its just going to ruin your weekend and make you the fool. Carry a water bottle round with you and fill it up throughout the day, festival food has gotten better in recent years, there are many different options for you to choose from to suit most budgets but if you want to take food along with you take unperishable items that are high in energy, my favourite are cereal bars.
Medicines - Paracetamol, Ibroprufen, Hayfever Relief, Anti-diarrhoea tablets are usually in my first aid kit, along with plasters and antibacterial handwash. If you're going to be having sex take condoms. Any other medications you need should be kept in a safe place or you can arrange for the medical team to keep them.

Other useful bits and pieces
Bin Bags - Useful for collecting rubbish, keeping wet and dry clothing seperate, and emergency rain ponchos.
Duct Tape - This is honestly a really useful thing to have at a festival, it can fix a plethora of problems such as snapped tent poles, attaching flags to poles, temporarily fixing broken wellies, or just taping stuff to people.
Batteries - Power for cameras, lights or sound systems.
Tote Bag - I like tote bags because they can carry a lot of stuff in them and are reaonable secure as they tuck right under your bag. They're also inexpensive (quite often free!) so you're not worried about your Mulberry getting ruined.
Torches/Lanterns/Lighting - I discovered a few years ago that one of the best things to take for lighting in your tent is those push LED lights that you can put inside cupboards, you can get a pack of them from Poundland easily. They're really bright and last a long time. Not essential but that little bit of whimsy I talked about earlier, fairy lights.. I just love making my tent a bit homely!
Camping Chair - annoying to lug around but kind of a god send when you're sick of plonking yourself on the floor all weekend.
Hat - keep the sun off your head and neck.
Eye Mask/Earplugs - Get a good nights sleep
Mobile Phone - If you really must take your expensive one consider getting a safety pouch that ties round your waist to put it in, I take my iPhone because of the camera on it but I used to have a cheap PAYG mobile 'festival phone' which I would take, the battery lasts all weekend and its good for finding lost friends. Take spare batteries/chargers if you're taking a smart phone. If yours is anything like mine it'll need charging every day.

Anything else I've missed? Let me know your top tips in the comments!

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  1. Pac-a-macs and 5 quid dresses, every time.

  2. Bang on! saw girls walking around Glastonbury with their hair in curlers...just...nooooo! :P


  3. Brilliant post! I would also add she-wees or pee mates to the list. Having to hover over shit encrusted portaloos ain't my thing, and neither is peeing down my leg. Also ear plugs if you want to get any sleep all weekend.

  4. never take expensive sunglasses, I stock up on £1-2 quid ones from New Look and take old dresses that I don't mind getting beer on.

  5. Fab post ... im going to T in the Park this weekend, Ive been before but this is my 1st time camping!

    Thanks for the tips! :)

  6. Great post. I love the 1st sentence, I was like oooh, gettin' snarky! Whenever I see "festival fashion" I just assume they are talking about fests like Lollapalooza, where you go for the day and then go home.

  7. Ha, I may be a user of this term but I'm sensible, honest! Proof here:


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