Putting together the perfect look can be intimidating. There are many factors at play when it comes to picking out clothes for an occasion. No matter what your default style is, the cool thing is you can transform yourself for any event or festival through the magic of fashion and accessories.
Sometimes there is a specific theme or dress code and you want to contribute by dressing the part. A theme gathering is the easiest to dress for because it gives you a starting point to do some research. Some good places to get more information on certain topics include: doing a Google search, looking at Pinterest boards, checking out relevant hashtags on Instagram, and even finding Facebook groups to join on the topic.
If you are looking to adopt a more alternative fashion style, in my previous blog post I detailed 27 different fashion subcultures commonly found at festivals and events. The article is a great introduction and explanation of those alternative styles, complete with classic clothing and accessory lists as well as picture examples.
Start by asking yourself what your outfit goals are:
There is a fashion choice out there for everyone to feel comfortable in and I want to help you brainstorm it! Answering these questions will streamline the process of putting together an outfit and help you determine what garments are going to be right for you and your event.
- Do you want to stand out from the crowd?
- How important is personal comfort?
- Is the weather/location going to be a factor?
STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD: Some ideas include wearing bold, neon colors and loud patterns. Incorporating LED or glow elements. Having dramatically large accessories, or by adding some bling or sparkle. Want to take it a step farther? Add a unique element like special effects makeup, fire, stilt walking, or animatronic props.
COMFORTABILITY: The degree of comfort has many variables. How does a fabric or material feel against your skin? Are your movements restricted in any way? Can you easily get in and out of your outfit by yourself? Is any part of you experiencing pain as a result of wearing an item? Here is where you ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice some comfort in the name of fashion.
WEATHER & LOCATION: Regardless of if your event is inside or outside, this plays an important factor. An outdoor event means you might require some personal shade, sunscreen, sunglasses and clothes made from breathable fabrics. Colder temps will have you asking what kind of layering should you do, can a coat be incorporated into your costume, or is there a coat check on site? PRO TIP: Always try to find out at much as you can about your venue in advance.
Personally, the most important thing to me for any outfit is how comfortable it is, followed second by how hard is it to go to the bathroom in. Real issues. Tied for third are theme and weather. If there is a theme, that will dictate what I actually pick out for clothing and accessories. I also take weather and location details into account when choosing what to wear. For example, if it is cold outside, but the event is mixed indoor and outdoor spaces. I will be planning a layer strategy, then funnel down from there.
Next, brainstorm the garments/pieces that will compose your outfit:
From an epic headdress to a pair of ornate footwear and anything in between. Here are a few ideas of nontraditional clothing garments and other things to consider when building your outfits. Remember, some accessories have multiple ways to be worm and can be used a variety of ways to help you achieve your desired look. This is your chance to think outside the box, so feel free to mix and match!
Clothing and Accessories Ideas:
Body Glitter (Bio degradable)
Drop Crotch Joggers
Faux Fur Hood
Feather Mohawk Headdress
Fringe Fairy Skirts
Marching Band Hat
Sew on Patches
Sequin Sport Coat
Shirt Collar and Cuffs
How to make your outfit idea a reality:
Now that you have read through the ideas list, you should have a rough draft of what items you want to use to construct you look. After you have a final idea of how you want to dress, it is time to procure your outfit and accessories. There are three main options when it comes to creating a costume: buy, rent, and make.
BUY: Simply put, you purchase items from miscellaneous retailers and stores. My favorite places to shop for costumes and themed outfits are: Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Thrift Stores. Amazon has a good amount of variety and with Prime, most items arrive next day. With eBay you get a lot of random, one of a kind choices. You can find a unique mix of new and second hand items that ensure no one will have the same outfit as you. Etsy is more of an artistic, slow fashion, platform where creatives sell their handmade pieces. It is a great resource if you want to have one of a kind items that you get to customize. A sure fire way to stand out from the crowd. Thrift Stores are another great place to look for costume bits and pieces. Combing through the racks you can find a variety of clothing and accessories that span many decades and fashion trends. Cant find what you’re looking for? Thrift Stores are an up-cycling gold mine, find something and breath new life into it! Items found at second hand shops are usually $5 or less, and there are even days where certain colored tags are further discounted.
RENT: Instead of investing all that money on items you will only use once, check out your local costume shop or check out sites like Rent The Runway online. The garments they have are typically of a higher quality and the staff gives expert advice on how to make you look more authentic. Often times costumes are available for rent a few days at a time, and at a fraction of the cost you would have paid if you bought the items on your own. Another cost saving option to consider is sharing clothes with friends. Ask your circle if anyone would be willing to help you put together an outfit for your event. More times then not, friends will jump to let you borrow whatever you need. Their closet is your closet. Friends are also a great resource in general because you get the benefit of the hive mind, which can take your look to the next level.
MAKE: Take your creativity out for a spin and try your hand at making something! Don’t stress, now a days there is a YouTube tutorial for everything. Upcycle those second hand threads you found at the thrift store. Craft some DIY accessories, add some embellishments, or sew a whole new garment from scratch. The sky is the limit!
Take away the stress of dressing for a special occasion by following these few simple guidelines. When making your outfit choice: Is there a theme? Formal, casual or costume attire? Is the venue indoor, outdoor or mixed? These questions will help you dress to impress at your next gathering by narrowing down your ideas from the beginning making it easier to decide what garments to wear.