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There are many different fashion styles across the globe and trying to identify them can be confusing. Consider this your festival fashion guide! In this post I am going to outline subcategories of fashion that are commonly worn at festivals and EDM themed events. Along with the subculture genre, you will find a broad description of each style and some details about what makes it unique. Keep in mind, this is a general overview meant to educate and serve as an inspirational festival fashion guide. To see more about a certain style, please click on the category and it will direct you to a specially curated Pinterest board with other examples.
The types of fashion trends listed below are not normally someones everyday wear, but something special they dawn for an event. Think non-traditional Ideas of fashion: costumes, wearable art and radical self-expression. Clothing is one of the most basic ways that we as humans can express ourselves. Often times it is a way of speaking without having to use words. Festival outfits are no different, in fact, they are an extreme example! Festival fashion is all about showing your personality and being comfortable enough in your environment to dress however you want. In a way, it is the ultimate fashion freedom because you can wear whatever your little heart desires and you are revered for it. It is a way to actively participate and add to everyone’s experience by becoming living art!
*Adult Onesies: Known as Kigurumi Onesies when they look like Animal characters and often called footie pajamas because they usually include a closed foot bottom. Essentially a one piece pajama. This is a single garment that usually has a front closure and is designed to be playful as well as comfortable and cozy. Perfect for and adult PJ party or going out at night and staying warm but looking cool!
*Blinky: Named after the blinking/flashing LEDs that light up the night. This type of style is well lit and very visible in the dark. Blinkies live for the time after the sun goes down. Strings of fairy lights, EL wire, and LED accessories. This style is also often accompanied by colorful faux fur garments, and if you wear both the lights and fur, you are a “Flinkie”. CLICK HERE to discover hundreds of cool LED, Light Up & Glow products! #Affiliate
*Bohemian (Boho): Gypsy, Hippie, Retro. Think Stevie Nicks. Feminine vibes with a sense of comfortability. Loose, natural fabrics, colorful patterns and layering. Lacey fringe shawls, Wide brim hats, burnout velvet kimono, flowing floral dresses, and whimsical skirts.
*Carnival: Sexy bedazzled bras and dancing glittering feathers everywhere. Strong focus on bright colors, flamboyance and accentuating the beauty of the female form with over-the-top accessories like headdresses and wings. A sexy ‘less is more’ approach to clothing that adds to the air of sensuality. Vegas showgirl adjacent.
*Costume/Cosplay: Think along the lines of Halloween with a focus on Disney, Anime, and video game characters. Role-playing with realistic replications of fictional characters. Typically created around something specific from a movie/TV show, character in a book, or an iconic game. These outfits often involve special effects make up and costumes made with so much attention to detail that they can even lead to side jobs for folks at conventions/events.
*Cyberpunk/Cybergoth: A futuristic industrial version of Gothic Ravers with an underlying science fiction vibe. A theme of black with a splash of, typically one, bright/neon color. Garments are often made from PVC and reflective elements. Accessories are key for this look and often include: googles, mask/respirator, platform boots, choker necklaces, belts, chains, and dread falls.
*Disco: Extra glamorous outfits designed to show off the body and sparkle/shine under dance-floor lights. Fancy looking clothes crafted from synthetic fabrics, often with metallic/holographic/iridescent elements and accessories. Sequin clothing, halter tops, jumpsuits, face bling, hair glitter, lots of skin, shoes with a thick heel or platform and pretty much anything sparkly. Bonus point for a bedazzled Marching Band or Captains hat.
*Elven/Fairy: Outfits and costumes made from elements found in nature like flowers and wood. Iridescent lame and mossy velvet fabrics in every shade of green. Body/face glitter, pointed Elf ear cuffs, fairy wings, horned headpieces, sequin body suits and kimonos. Playful woodland creatures and fantasy cosplay characters that are a subcategory of LARP.
*Feather: Whimsical and flirty. Inspired by nature and therefore carries a sense of wild abandon/badassery. Feather adornments offer a majestic appeal because they add movement to any garment or accessory. They also make any outfit more fancy because their purpose is purely decorative. There is a further subcategory of Feather that pairs with leather and is heavily influenced by steampunk and victorian dress styles known as “Fleather”.
*Fur: Typically constructed from colorful patterns of faux fur fabric. Keeps you warm, is stylish, and makes people want to pet you. Commonly seen worn as a long overcoat, spirit hood, vest, and/or fluffy boot covers. There is a subcategory of Cosplay called Furry Fandom (Furries) that is people dressing up where the entire outfit is constructed from a literal head to toe fur suit.
*Goth: Born from 1980’s British Punk-rock, Gothic style has dark, mysterious and antiquated vibes. Victorian influences on clothing and accessories. Mostly black outfits and makeup with some dark color accents of scarlet and purple. Heavy use of velvet, lace, and leather fabrics. Frilly shirts, layers of fabric, lace up boots, Creepers and Winklepickers shoes are common with this look.
*Hip-Hop/Streetwear: Urban influences, graffiti fonts, color blocking. This style is the result of African American fashion coming together with Latin fashion in the late 70’s and is ever changing through the years. Tommy Hilfiger, Will smith on Fresh Prince of Belair, Left Eye from TLC, and Rihanna are some major influences over the decades. Outfit basics include 90’s adidas track suits, fresh sneakers, bright colors and large print patterns. Ball cap with sports team logo, drop crotch jogger pants, chain necklaces, large hoop earrings, baggie shirts and crop tops.
*Leather: Styles of dress that focuses on leather garments and accessories such as leather jackets, vests, boots, chaps, harnesses, and/or hats. Sexy mysterious BDSM meets Motorcycle club with some kinky/victorian fashion influences. Black leather dominates the scene, but jewel tones, white, and pink are also popular colors.
*Matching: Most common is twinning, where you have two of everything and are dressed identically. There are also themed outfits for groups or couples costumes. More loose examples include: everyone in the group is a different colored crayon, famous couples from history, and the classic school tour group matching t-shirt look. There is always a common color, theme, and/or item in this style.
*Military: Camouflage prints in classic earth tones or trendy bold colors. Epaulettes, guided buttons, and valor medals. Bedazzled captains hat, military jacket, big combat/platform boots, cargo pants, military uniform, festival belt, aviator sunglasses, utility vest. Hair typically in french braids or clean cut fade.
*Motocross/Motorsport: Athletic, strappy, color blocking. Bright colors and checkered patterns. Sometimes adorned with large corporate logos and other branding/sponsor insignia. A glam version of motorbike outfits. Utilitarian take on spandex sportswear with clips, buckles, zippers and reflective accents. Motocross pants, bandana/dust mask, and colorful mid calf motorcycle boots are common accessories.
*Nude: No clothes is still an outfit choice! When is the last time you took your birthday suit out for a spin? The totally naked look is usually complimented with accessories like socks/shoes, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, fanny packs and SUNSCREEN. Naked also includes partially naked. Pants are the worst! Maybe a woman feels like freeing the nipple and rocking some body paint. Perhaps a man wants to do some shirt-cocking. Regardless, people are seeing way more skin then usual if you’re rocking this OG outfit choice.
*Post Apocalyptic: Typically dark or worn out/faded colors. Clothing articles that have been Frankensteined together. Wasteland Weekend vibes and Mad Max style. Up-cycled items like buttons, safety pins and metal chains for adornments on garments. Outfits with shredded or frayed edges. Accessories designed to help you survive the elements. Goggles, combat boots, bandanas and respirators. Dread falls and a freshly shaved head are classic hairstyles for both sexes in this look.
*Punk: Started in mid 1970s London as an aggressive anarchic movement. An anti-fashion, anti-materialistic urban youth street culture with Celtic glam and skater style influences. Doc Martens, black leather jackets with silver spikes, ripped up jeans, graphic t-shirts without sleeves and dudes rocking Kilts. Patches from heavy metal bands, dog collars, plaid printed fabrics, mohawks and tattoos/piercings.
*Psychonaut: Seeking enlightenment with trippy fabrics, Mandalas and other meditation symbols. Think melting faces and rainbow mushroom art. Comfortable clothing with relaxed, low maintenance vibes. Designs that make you feel like you are in an altered state. You are a space explorer of your own mind. Dress for it by wearing that 3D printed graphic pullover hoodie and matching jogger pants/leggings. Don’t forget a hydration backpack, sunglasses, and a fun hat. Timberlands, Moon boots, sneakers or Uggs complete this chill style .
*Raver/EDM: Think Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), Tomorrowland, Ultra, Kandi Kids and PLUR. Neon, fluorescent, light up/glow elements. Base ball caps and Athletic shorts. Body glitter and booty shorts. Bedazzled bras, pasties, fishnets, lace lingerie, and sheer fabrics: a lot of skin. Outer space aliens combined with trippy/psychedelic prints and various colors. Face masks/bandanas, tutu, fanny packs, fluffy boot covers, Kandi bracelets, colorful wigs, and a pocket full of hard candies and sunshine.
*Space Cowgirl/Rhinestone Cowboy: Country meets Disco. Bedazzled, sequin, and far out metallic accents. Bright neon colors and shiny silver hues make this trend stand out from your average scene. Think space explorer in country western wear, complete with rhinestone fringe. Futuristic take on classic garments like cowboy hats, halter tops, and chaps. Finish this look off with some colorful cowgirl boots, platforms or heels.
*Steampunk: Style based on science fiction and victorian era fashion. Post-apocolyptic undertones with fancy leather and lace garments that have utilitarian functionality. Up-cycled jewelry made from gold, antiqued silver and bronze metal and gears. Common unisex steampunk accessories are decorated top hat, googles, pocket watch, gloves, and industrial gadgets/weapons. Men typically wear overcoat, double breasted vest, bow tie, suspenders and full length trousers. Ladies fashion consists of a petty coat/bustle, corset, bolero jacket, patterned pantyhose and lace up boots.
*Tie Dye: A symbol of peace and love. A DIY way to customize garments into colorful, psychedelic creations. Popularized by The Grateful Dead’s groupies, Deadheads, who made and sold shirts as merch in the 1960s in order to keep following the band on tour. Strongly associated with Hippie vibes to this day. A classic fashion choice for any event.
*Tutu: Tutu Tuesdays are a real thing. The only requirement is wearing a tutu, any other clothing or accessories are a bonus. Tutu styles include classic ballerina, petticoat and bustle. They are typically made up of layers of netting or tulle fabric. Very easy do it yourself project.
*Utilitarian: Tactical vest, wide brimmed bucket hat with chin strap, and cargo pants that zip off into shorts. Tool belt with a flashlight, knife holder, and lighter leash. Functional outfits and practical design to be comfortable and efficient. Lots of easy access pockets and places to clip carabiners. Think Jungle Jack Hanna and Burning Man Rangers.
*White Party: Common circuit party theme/dresscode focusing on clothing and accessories that are white, cream or silver. Holographic and iridescent items are also popular. The monochrome base allows for creativity with fabric and textures, often associated with high fashion.
Hopefully after reading this post you are filled with fun fresh fashion ideas for what to wear to your next event. Remember, there are infinite outfit possibilities and you are only limited by your creativity. Style is an individual’s choice of expression through clothing. At the end of the day, there are no rules when it comes to choosing outfits for a festival or event. Follow your heart and dress however makes you feel the most comfortable. The point is to have fun with your clothing and accessories. Not wanting to commit to one style? Mix things up! Dare to do something different from your standard wardrobe in an environment that loves that shit!
Fun Fact, I blur a lot of the fashion lines and sample from many styles when dressing for an event or festival. I consider myself to be a mix of Blinky, Disco, Hip-Hop, and Utilitarian. Translation: all my party outfits have sparkles, LEDs, bright colors and pockets! I actively try to include at least some light-up, glow in the dark or black light reactive element into every piece I make. Almost everything in the fun part of my closet has some sort of sparkle factor: rhinestones, glitter puff paint, and/or sequin trim. Comfort is my main goal when dressing for an event. I want to be able to move around easily so I can dance or climb at a moments notice. I keep functionality in mind when I am designing garments, pocket storage is one of the most useful embellishments you can add to any item.
2 thoughts on “Fashion Guide to Festival Subcultures”
This is truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing