With South by Southwest kicking off this Friday, Austinites and attendees are all atwitter with planning. Whether you’re busy RSVPing for free shows, perfecting your schedule of official events, or packing your bags and finalizing your itinerary, we all seem to have a lot on our minds. Atop that mental checklist sits the ever-burning question: What do I wear?!
When packing or putting together your SXSW looks, it’s important to remember that this 10-day (and night) long festival is a different beast than your average summer music fest. This is not Bonnaroo – or even ACL – we’re not camping out in a muddy field for several days under blistering southern sun. Instead, SXSW events are scattered across Austin’s downtown overflowing into the city’s nightlife neighborhoods –Dirty Sixth, Red River, and East Sixth.
As far as fashion is concerned – location is everything. You wouldn’t wear a business suit to a show at Mohawk or yoga pants to Uchi, so save the typical “festival” garb for ACL, and instead amp up your street style game. Also, no matter how you slice it, SXSW is a marathon of a festival, not a sprint, so it’s important to think about fashion in terms of stamina. Sure those heels (or your brand new oxfords) make a killer statement, but they’ll also make a killer blister after nine hours of constant standing and venue hopping.
But don’t fear, with these three “rules” we can all dress for SX success and nail SXSW fashion in 2015 and beyond.
1. Look cool – If there’s one thing Austinites have perfected it’s how to drink, if there’s two things it’s looking “rock n roll” flawless. Basically, dressing up is not required for dressing well in ATX.
2. Look effortless – Part of that rock n roll chic comes from not overthinking or overdoing. Channel Beyonce’s “I woke up like this,” and embrace the bedhead, sex hair, and last night’s ripped up t-shirt.
3. Be comfortable – We might not be burning under summer sun, but SXSW days are long, Texas spring days. Temperatures rise and drop with the sun, and on-foot or by bike are the most trusted modes of travel. Fun starts to ebb when you’re uncomfortable, so dress appropriately.
Take these rules – or fashion suggestions – and put your spin on them. For my favorite SXSW looks, I scoured New York and Paris Fashion Week recaps, and street style blogs to offer up the best of the best recommendations that are both on point and on comfort.
Colors & Styles
Fun prints: Think nineties video game graphics, palm trees, even food items.
Plaid: Everything from “picnic plaid” to old school lesbian plaid is #In.
Stripes: Big stripes, bold stripes, thin stripes, all stripes as long as they’re black or navy and white.
Black: Black is always in style and always in style in Austin, plus it automatically ups your edgy factor.
Red: This spring’s street style “It” color – think jackets, hats, and footwear.
Military-Inspired: A la Marc Jacobs at New York Fashion Week Spring 2015, from field jackets to olive green.
Sleeveless tanks – think t-shirts with the sleeves cut off
Mini-dresses – think thigh high, a flannel over-shirt, and high tops
Long, side-slit tunics with fitted pants below – think Emma Stone at the Golden Globes
Cuffed “boyfriend” jeans
Clarks Desert Boots – these classic shoes are experiencing a comeback moment
Red Wing “Pound the Pavement” Boots
Printed canvas – think Vans or Keep
Hats: They block the sun, and if you wear it right, they look pretty damn good. Plus, a woman in a hat screams self-confidence. But it’s not just any hat, forget the beany or “festival floppy” hats and, instead, look for something within the wide brim variety: Tiller, Outback, etc. Personally, I suggest wool hats in black, beige, emerald, or – if you’re feeling outrageous – Carmen San Diego Red.
Necklaces add flair for femmes, MOCs, and everyone in between.
Crewneck Pullovers: Hoodies are always a reliable layering option, but that American Apparel zip-up is headed out, while crewneck pullovers are becoming the rage. Pull it over that oversized flannel and those ripped skinnies for instantaneous grunge chic.