Festival Style: Through The Decades
8 Jun 2023
From the swinging sixties right up to the present day, some of the most legendary gigs and performances have taken place at festivals. Whilst each of these moments have left an indelible mark on the musical map, these gatherings of thousands of music lovers have also had an influence on the way we dress. From catching a closing set from Hendrix in a kaftan to po-going around Parklife in a parka, Pretty Green has taken a look at festivals over the ages to see what impact they’ve had on our wardrobes as well as our musical tastes.
Before the Sixties, music festivals as we now know them didn’t really exist. So game changing gatherings such as the Isle of Wight festival in 1968 and New York’s ‘music and art fair’ in Woodstock the following year were both revolutionary events. Providing a (literal) platform for folk artists like Fairport Convention, Bob Dylan and Jethro Tull as well as rock gods The Doors, Grateful Dead and The Who. The unconventional attire of the hippy heavy audience (which included three Beatles and a Rolling Stone at the Isle of wight) reflected the mind-expanding music they were experiencing. Connecting with the cosmos and embracing their bohemian sides with bell bottom trousers and psychedelic tie-dye tops alongside a ‘back to nature aesthetic’ that saw an abundance of cheese cloth and denim on show too.
Following on from Woodstock and Wight, 1970 saw the first ever ‘Pop, Blues & Folk Festival’ at Glastonbury with Led Zeppelin, T-Rex and The Kinks all headlining. Throughout the decade the type of acts would expand to include a whole host of genres including punk, metal, reggae and indie. The clothing worn by attendees saw an influx of army surplus gear, customised leather jackets and BIG boots.
Though the decade of the home computer and brick phone wielding yuppie may not be the first one you think of when it comes to festivals, it did give birth to the outdoor rave. Usually illegal, these mass gatherings brought thousands of clubbers together to enjoy the world’s greatest DJs as well as live PAs from the likes of the KLF, Adamski and the Prodigy. These all night affairs demanded appropriate clothing for dancing the night away, which saw an explosion of practical sportswear and outdoor fleeces in appropriately trippy colour combinations.
Kicking things off with the 1990s era defining Stone Roses gig at Spike Island followed by Nirvana at Reading through to Oasis at Knebworth, the nineties was a decade where indie bands got to play in front of bigger audiences than ever before. It also gave rise to the ubiquitous bucket hat, sunglasses and big parka combination, in homage to the (often Mancunian) stars of the show. Whereas fans of the equally gargantuan grunge bands adopted a more anti-fashion approach by wearing oversized knits, plaid shirts, seriously distressed denims and battered army boots. Which wasn’t a bad idea if you got caught up in the muddiest Glastonbury ever in 1997. Though the first ever Creamfields in 1998 did provide festival goers with the opportunity to be a little smarter, albeit no less messier!
Epitomised by golden couple Alex Turner and Alexa Chung wearing wax jackets and wellies, the noughties saw festivals really upping their game in the fashion stakes. Whether going full on fancy dress at Bestival or getting down in a down jacket at Snowbombing, dressing up became an intrinsic and more importantly fun part of festival life during this decade. Whilst ravers were treated to light and sound shows on a scale never seen before thanks to show stopping performances from the likes of Orbital, Fatboy Slim and the Chemical brothers.
Given the huge popularity of outdoor festivals in the UK by the 2010s, music lovers really were spoilt for choice. From city centres to beaches, there was now a festival to suit even the most niche of musical tastes. The popularity for glamping and street food also meant that now you could treat a festival like a holiday rather than a physical ordeal, with on site facilities becoming much more luxurious as well as easier to get to. Things improved on the style front too, as this was the decade Pretty Green started with paisley prints and classic logo t-shirts...
Though the 2020s didn’t have the best start with hundreds of festivals being cancelled, it seems like we’re now making up for lost time with an amazing selection of different music festivals popping up all over the country. Equally the options of how to dress for these events has never been more varied either. Whether going for a retro vibe as you sing along to a musical icon or something technical to keep the rain off as you rave, Pretty Green has all your festival bases covered this season.