What to wear to a festival: All the style inspiration you need

Our guide on what to wear to a festival this summer will help you nail your festival style, whatever the weather

three women showing what to wear to a festival
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With the sun shining and music festivals kicking off, now's the time to nail what to wear to a festival. From practical pieces that will get you comfortably through the event, to statement styles that will ensure you stand out from the crowd, we have you covered.

Festival season is upon us and if you've been on the circuit for years, you'll probably have your festival wardrobe sorted. However if you're new to this type of music and culture event - some of which can last for around 4-5 days, then you might be wondering what to wear. Practicality is key and if you're planning on making a festival a regular part of your summer calendar, then developing a capsule wardrobe for festival season is a smart idea. Avoid overpacking - something to avoid when heading to a festival, make sure you've got the essentials, such as light layers, denim shorts, a selection of t-shirts and jazzier pieces that can be mixed and matched throughout the festival.

Depending on the type of festival, you might find the best festival outfits are similar to what you'd wear to a concert. And while there are many different types of summer festival, lasting for varying periods of time, the common denominator is that they're all largely hosted outside. This means that when deciding what to wear to a festival outfits need to deal with unpredictable weather, so layering is key. And while you might be tempted to rock your fanciest footwear, you will always be better off in comfortable flats for a day outside, soaking up the atmosphere to the max. 

What to wear to a festival - according to fashion editors

If you're having a sartorial meltdown over what to wear to a festival this summer, start by taking stock of the festival you're attending. If your going to a multi-day festival such as Glastonbury, comfortable basics with some added style statements should be your go-to. Notoriously muddy, you'll need practical footwear, such as a pair of wellington boots, from popular outdoors brand, Hunter, and one of the best waterproof jackets to keep you dry in sudden downpours. 

For day festivals, you can opt for more outlandish styles, as you don't have to worry about overnighting and being quite as comfy. Dress up your look with an embellished jacket - such as one of the best leather jackets, with studs or embroidery for a statement finish. 

Heading to a festival with a bit more of chilled and folksy feel? Lean into the artistic nature of the day lean into boho style, opting for maxi dresses, macramé and a crossbody bag to complete your look. 

Style influencer and writer Hayley Stewart @curvesncurlsuk has got it sorted when it comes to festival fashion:

"I want my festival style to combine fabulousness with comfort. I always take my Dr. Martins and pair them with floaty boho mini dresses and shorts. Throw in some sequins for extra fabulous. Add in some statement sunnies and biodegradable face glitter, and don’t forget to pack layers. You’ll want a rain coat or waterproof poncho and a jumper, it can get chilly at night."

1. Shorts to wear to a festival

three women at a festival

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When it comes to popular answers for what to wear to a festival, shorts, particularly denim shorts is often top of the list. Practical, hardwearing and versatile, a pair of denim shorts (or jeans) is a great basis for a festival outfit. Shorts are often chosen over jeans, as festivals are held in the summer months and you might find your regular denims too warm. However, it's always good to pack some jeans for overnight festivals, as it can get a little nippy. If you're worried about bum-grazing shorts, have no fear, we have a few options that limit the thigh flash. 

2. Tops to wear to a festival

three women at a festival

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to tops and t-shirts to wear to a festival, consider the music at the event. If you're going to watch your favorite act, then a relevant band t-shirt is perfectly acceptable at the event. If however you're seeing lots of acts and want to stay neutral, then opt for tops that are driven by the spring/summer fashion trends 2023, instead of the artists performing. 

If you're away for a few days, you'll want to pack t-shirts you aren't hugely attached to, or items that can easily be washed. With limited facilities at festivals, lots of time outside and the risk of mud, your items may not be as pristine as when you left, but as long as you've had a good time - that's all that matters. Stock up on easy to wear crew necks you can wear alone or layer underneath sweaters on chillier evenings. For a more party-ready outfit, opt for embellished t-shirts so that you can dance in style. 

For a one day festival you will still want to keep layers fairly light. If this is your first time, you can also look at pictures from previous events to get a feel of the day and see how dressed up people are. If you want to get noticed however, embrace this season's dopamine dressing trend and wear bright color clothes to make an impact.

3. Jackets to wear to a festival

three women at a festival

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Jackets play an extremely important part in working out what to wear to a festival. With the potential for sudden downpours and the high and low temperatures of the day (or several days) and evenings to contend with, a good jacket can make or break your festival wardrobe. If you're keeping the rest of your look fairly neutral, you may want to utilize your jacket as the key piece to your look, opting for one in a new season hue, or select an embellished design to keep your outfit directional. Styles with secure pockets, will also help you keep your personal items close and safe. A leather jacket is a great option, as it's both warm and stylish, while denim jackets are ideal if the weather looks like it will largely be balmy.

Remember, just as the weather can get very wet, festivals are held in the summer, and do occasionally mean hot weather too. Opt for lightweight fabrics that you can either roll into a bag or tie around your waist if temperatures start to soar. 

And whilst there is plenty of time to get up and dance and explore a festival, there is also plenty of time to sit around, so consider choosing a jacket you can throw on the ground and sit on too - in other words, go for style, but not high-ticket items. 

4. Dresses to wear to a festival

three women at a festival in dresses

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Wearing a dress at a festival can be a little more hit or miss than when deciding what to wear to the races. If you're at a day festival, then a casual dress - maxi, midi or shorter shouldn't be an issue - although do consider whether you will need to sit on the grass - as you'll want the dress to give you the wiggle room to do so. When selecting a dress to wear to a festival, once again, music and feel of the individual festival should be considered. 

Consider the denim trends 2023 and opt for a denim dress, that will feel relaxed, yet directional, or opt for easy to wear t-shirt dresses, casual A-line styles or trapeze silhouettes that offer a comfortable finish. The best dresses for a festival won't make you feel constricted. However, if you worry about thigh rub in the summer, but want to wear a dress, invest in the best anti-chafing shorts to slip underneath your frock. Not only will this protect your thighs, but it will put a stop to wardrobe malfunctions too.

Looking to pack as light as possible? Dresses with built-in bras offer lingerie and a dress in one, giving you added support, without the additional layer. 

Finally, consider fabrication, cool cotton fabrics will be breathable on the warmest of festival days and will also dry quickly should you spill something on yourself. Remember you can always dress up your look with a fun jacket. 

5. Shoes to wear to a festival

three women at a festival

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Footwear is incredibly important when deciding what to wear to a festival. Days can be long, with lots of walking, so staying comfortable and maximizing your ability to dance and jump around is key. On top of that, festivals are held outdoors, so there is no accounting for the mix of terrains you will have to navigate. 

While the best white trainers offer plenty of style appeal, if the weather before or during the festival gives any indication of rain, you're best off leaving your white sneakers for another occasion, as many festivals take place in fields - not a pairing for white shoes. Sneakers are a great choice for the day however and as they're at an all time high in terms of style points, they'll team well with whatever you choose to wear. 

Want something a little hardier that can navigate muddy terrain and gravel footpaths? The latest spring/summer shoe trends 2023 ushered in a host of stompy boots and the best Chelsea boots - particularly a classic pair of Dr Martens, or a solid pair of wellington boots (you can get short, more summer-appropriate lengths) should be on your festival style hit list. 

6. Bags to wear to a festival

women at a festival

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Wondering what bag to wear to a festival? The simple answer is whatever style you choose, keep it hands free. The best backpacks, in a small size, could work well here as they will allow you to keep essentials on you without getting in the way. Although a rucksack can feel a little sweatier, particular on really hot days. 

The best crossbody bags are likely to be your best bet, stick to a size that allows you to keep exactly what you need on you (and no more) as you want to keep it as light as possible. You can use carabiners onto jean and short waistbands for a small cool bottle or your fold-away poncho. 

If you've paid attention to the spring/summer handbag trends 2023, then you'll know that fanny packs or bumbags are still going strong. To keep this look directional, opt for a style that can be worn across the body, rather than around your waist. 

Rivkie Baum
Fashion channel editor

Rivkie is a fashion editor, writer and stylist with twenty years' experience in the industry. Rivkie studied design and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion, and fell in love with styling and journalism, and has covered fashion weeks in London, Paris and New York, as well as shooting editorial all over the world.

Specialising in plus size fashion, Rivkie has long championed that style is for everyBODY and has appeared on a host of radio stations and television shows, pushing for greater representation for plus size women and fashion throughout her career.