Fashion + Festivals

The stark contrast between British and American fashion at festivals

One of the most enjoyed summer pastimes of teens and young adults is attending a good festival. There is no doubt that seeing all your favourite artists perform in one setting while spending time with friends is popular with many people. However, what is interesting to see is the contrast in festival attire, particularly when it comes to British festivals and American festivals.

In the UK, festivals are ingrained into teen culture and often groups of 5 or more friends will venture out to the fields of Leeds, Reading and Glastonbury to get their fix of music, alcohol and fairground rides, among many other things. Due to the muddy conditions of the settings for these British festivals, a great deal of the clothing worn by the masses has been a mix of casual and rural apparel.

From personal experience of attending these festivals, I can say that most men wear casual and sports attire, such as shorts, joggers and sports jerseys. Of course the choice of footwear is usually wellington boots or old trainers, as at festivals in the UK, you are more than likely going to be surrounded in mud, even if the weather is pleasant. The general consensus is definitely to bring clothes that look good but are also going to survive the mess of a typical British festival such as Glastonbury.

Making more of an effort than some of the men, women at UK festivals also opt for wellies most of the time, however in my time at festivals I have seen many vibrant neon-coloured tops and skirts worn by girls. As well as this, glitter around the eyes is also common at these types of festivals, a type of fashion statement that is used very rarely outside of festival settings.

Both men and women accessorize with the legendary “bum bag”, which is a staple at every UK festival. The idea of this sort of bag is to hold valuable items such as a phone or wallet, instead of leaving them back at the tents, where many intruders try to steal these goods. However, this accessory has been becoming increasingly more popular over the years due to many companies such as adidas and even high end brands such as Gucci, cashing in on the notion that these “bum bags” complete any UK festival look.

Typically, American festivals such as Coachella Music festival in California, attract many celebrity audience members as well as big-name artists. Because of the generally wealthier audience and cleaner setting as opposed to UK festivals, the clothes worn by attendees of the festival are filled with glitz and glamour.

As far as the general public goes, the first thing that you will notice is the increase in colour in outfits at Coachella. Photographs of audiences at Coachella almost looks like a shot of a multi-coloured blanket has been captured, due to the variety of shades and vibrant colours.

As well as the increased presence of colour, festivals like Coachella also highlight much emphasis on diversity in style. With chic jeans and denim shorts being favoured by many, a light, airy, designer fabric top is popular as well. However, many attendees of the festival have been known to treat the event like a fashion show, bringing their own, uniquely designed outfits.

A common feature at Coachella is a translucent white dress with a bikini, giving its wearer a brilliant summer look. Other more extravagant looks are on show at American festivals too, such as fairy wings which are sometimes added to outfits. One well known Coachella outfit was worn by American beauty guru James Charles, when the Youtuber caused a stir on social media by wearing a particularly feminine, rather revealing white thong and matching jacket.

If not anything else, this highlights that American festivals put much more emphasis on looking good and displaying well designed and even clothes that may be shocking to some, unlike the style at UK music festivals. I would say that at festivals such as Leeds and Reading, the main looks are a mix of what looks the best and what is also practical for often muddy conditions, whereas one of Coachella’s biggest selling point is how aesthetic the event looks. Not to mention that the atmosphere at Coachella looks to far more calm and sophisticated to the rather rowdy festivals in Britain.

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