Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How To... Dress For a Concert

I always think I know exactly what to wear to concerts, but without fail, I always end up panicking about an hour before the show starts, running around my room frantically searching for something to wear. There’s so many factors to consider (the weather, the venue, the genre of music), which usually puts me in a fashion predicament. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard of (and plan to attend) South by Southwest. It’s the biggest annual showcase of what’s new and different in the music industry, and it takes place right here in Austin, TX from March 15th-20th. Regardless of whether you’re going to spend all 6 days listening to live music, or only plan to attend the free Strokes concert, I’ve gathered some tips to help you plan out the hautest outfit to wear while jamming out to the hottest new bands.

#1: Wear Comfortable Shoes
If you’re anything like me, you may be completely delusional and think “Oh, well I’m mostly just going to be standing around anyways. This is the perfect opportunity to break in those new 3 inch platforms!” Do not do this. Yes, you will get lots of compliments. But you will literally be spending hours on your feet, and you most likely will have to do quite a bit of walking to different venues. As you wait for the band to start setting up, all you will be able to do is stand around in silent agony as your feet scream at you for putting them through such torture. Then, when the band does start playing, you won't even be able to enjoy the music or dance with your friends because your feet are bleeding and it doesn't exactly make you feel like dancing.

My suggestion is to go for an old, trusty pair of shoes that you’ve had for a while. Whether these are your perfectly broken-in cowboy boots or that pair of retro converse that you’ve had forever, the key is to pick something that you have worn before for long periods of time. you may be tempted to wear sandals or flip-flops, but I don’t recommend this either. Your feet will get stepped on and you will get drinks spilled on your feet. So unless you want sticky, bruised toes, I recommend covering them up. This brings me to another point: make sure that your shoes are easy to clean. In my experience, canvas or synthetic leather is the easiest to wash off, but real leather also works so long as it is properly waterproofed beforehand.

#2 Layer Lightly
The biggest problem with picking out a concert ensemble is usually not what to wear, but how much to wear. This is particularly a problem with our bi-polar Texas weather. Do you dress to withstand the unrelenting heat in the afternoon, or to survive the freezing cold once the sun goes down? This is why layering is your best friend. Layering allows you to add on or remove clothing as the day progresses. However, you must be strategic. There’s nothing more annoying than holding onto a bulky jacket while trying to bop along to the music, and nobody likes the person knocking everyone over with their huge bag bulging with clothes.

It may be too hot to layer for afternoon shows, but if you plan on seeing live music until sundown, I recommend packing things in your bag that you can layer on later to keep warm. Tights and thin undershirts are compact enough to squeeze into most bags. Most venues have (fairly) sanitary bathrooms that you can use to change into/out of layers. If you feel that a jacket is necessary, make sure that the material is thin and that it has long sleeves. While it may be a fashion “don’t”, long sleeves are useful in case you MUST tie the jacket around your waist. Thin cotton cardigans and button-down shirts also make great alternatives to jackets, as they are much less bulky but still warm.

#3: Choose a Crossover Bag

Obviously, you’re going to need somewhere to store all of your stuff. However, bringing a bag to concerts can be very complicated. While oversized bags may be trendy and big enough to hold everything you could possibly need (admit it, we’ve all used them to carry around an extra pair of shoes... or three), you’ll piss off everyone else in the crowd by taking up too much space. At the same time, you want something hands-free for optimal jamming. Cross-body bags are your best option when seeing live music, as they are small enough in size and don’t require you to hold onto them the entire time. Lucky for you, crossover bags have been huge these past few seasons, so every designer and their mother seem to have come up with their own interpretation of the trend. In my opinion, bags with thin leather or chain straps are the most visually appealing and least irritating on the skin (thick leather or plastic straps tend to rub too much). But feel free to experiment with different shapes and colors! Since these bags are small, they can balance a bright color or heavy embellishment without looking over-the-top, so go bold or go home. Oh, and just so we're clear, fanny packs will never be chic. So don't even think about it.

#4: Go Low-Maintenance
I know, I know. It’s hard for me to downsize, too. But trust me, fellow fashionistas, there’s nothing worse than being in a crowd of sweaty people for four hours and feeling your once-sexy smoky eye melting slowly down your face; knowing you bear a striking resemblance to Samara from “The Ring”. Heavy make-up and perfectly blown-out hair will not last, and by the end of the show, you’ll look a hot mess. Embrace the free-spirited nature of live music and go with light, natural hair and make-up that can withstand sweat and humidity.

A low-maintenance attitude should generally be applied to your clothing as well. As glam as you are, you are still human and, trust me, you will sweat. It is unavoidable. Don’t choose anything too skin-tight, as these clothes will show sweat stains easily and eventually become stretched out, ruining the original silhouette of the outfit. I also suggest choosing shorts over skirts or dresses. These always run the risk of some stranger accidentally lifting them up, causing you to flash an entire crowd of people (it happens). Overall, keep in mind that less is more.
Photos courtesy of FashionToast, MissPandora, Elle, and Urban Outfitters.