Fashion: What festivals teach us about fashion

Miss Moneypenny Naomi Harris steps out at the Chelsea Flower Show keeping it short and dazzling bright white in this chic tailored trouser suit, teamed with an orange tan cross shoulder bag. Maybe she's just proving she can look just as good in sharp white linen as any of the male Bond contenders. Whatever, it's a perfect Chelsea look.


Stephanie Smith
Yui Mok/PA Wire



 at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 23, 2016. See PA story CONSUMER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Miss Moneypenny Naomi Harris steps out at the Chelsea Flower Show keeping it short and dazzling bright white in this chic tailored trouser suit, teamed with an orange tan cross shoulder bag. Maybe she's just proving she can look just as good in sharp white linen as any of the male Bond contenders. Whatever, it's a perfect Chelsea look. Stephanie Smith Yui Mok/PA Wire at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 23, 2016. See PA story CONSUMER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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The summer’s festivals and shows are the perfect excuse to mix the practical with the fabulous. Stephanie Smith has advice on making sure you get it right.

Festivals have gone classic and become an annual summer fashion trend in much the same way that nautical became a spring one.

Orange dress, �17; sandals �22; scarf �4; earrings, �4. From Primark.

Orange dress, �17; sandals �22; scarf �4; earrings, �4. From Primark.

Clothing and accessories companies like an enticing peg to hang collections on. It doesn’t matter if you’re not actually going to a festival, just as it doesn’t matter if you’re not actually going on a cruise. These are ranges that sum up what spring and summer mean to us.

And for summer, that means long carefree days and balmy nights of music, al-fresco dining and friends, when we can all relax our routines and our style.

Small wonder then that festival fashion is based broadly on that other annual fashion trend with which it is most closely tied – boho. Festivals are highly bohemian affairs, whether they are celebrating music, dance, food, books, art or pretty much anything else (maybe not Star Wars festivals).

The music festival season kicked off this year across the pond with Coachella in California. Now deemed to be the most fashionable music festival in the world, it’s certainly showing Glastonbury and the rest a thing or two about how you really should dress for a majorly star-studded musical extravaganza. Cut-off jeans, wellies and a poncho just won’t cut it any more, not even if you top it all off with a feathered or floral headdress.

RI Studio beige print wrap dress, �75, from River Island.

RI Studio beige print wrap dress, �75, from River Island.

To be fair, we do have a lot more rain and mud to deal with in the UK than the beautiful people do in California, so we have to adopt a more practical approach.

The trend at Coachella was very much for all white, whether tiny crochet tunics or long floaty maxi dresses. Good luck with that one if it’s a look you’re going for at one of this summer’s British music events. Just make sure you’re wearing something sensible and substantial underneath.

All ages attend festivals, and there are festivals to suit all tastes – classical music and jazz, opera, for example, not just pop and rock – but festival fashion has also become a major trend at country shows and agricultural events, with teens and 20-somethings roaming about in shorts or mini tunics and Hunters, and all ages of women in bright and easy cotton maxis with waxed jackets thrown over.

In this way, we can all enjoy mixing mood and purpose in our clothing. Dress up/down style is the perfect way to go, not just for festivals and shows, but for much of the way we like to live our lives these days. There’s no reason why you can’t dig out some of those old sparkly numbers you haven’t had the chance to wear for years. A long embellished chiffon gown with a wax jacket on top, what’s not to like?

Suggest front cover
Frill shoulder Bardot top, �9.99; straw hat, �9.74. Both at New Look.

Suggest front cover Frill shoulder Bardot top, �9.99; straw hat, �9.74. Both at New Look.

It’s worth pointing out that there are some festival-ready pieces it’s always a good idea to take with you or keep in the car, if there’s parking. A warm jacket with pockets, a large shawl or scarf, a good pair of sunglasses, a hat, a secure, roomy and easy bag you can wear cross-body, and, most important of all, footwear that you can walk and dance in, whatever the weather, all day and all night long.

Think survival kit and pack wipes, a waterproof pack-mac or rain poncho, sunscreen and emergency pants. Make sure that water will be freely available or take it with you. You need a camping mentality. A portable cube that lets you recharge your phone is a good idea, so you can always take pictures and be contactable.

It would be a shame to miss out on this summer’s beautiful patterns and prints, so look out for tunic tops and dresses that you know you will love wearing all season long.

With children and errant partners, bear in mind that it’s easier to spot them in a crowd if they are wearing one block of bright colour.

Santorina dress, �39.95, at www.joebrowns.co.uk.

Santorina dress, �39.95, at www.joebrowns.co.uk.

Let festival season do its worst.

Valley of the Dolls Tamiko maxi skirt, �45l; top and sandals from a selction. All at Joy.

Valley of the Dolls Tamiko maxi skirt, �45l; top and sandals from a selction. All at Joy.