4 May 2009

"I'm Going To This Gig...What Do I Wear?!"

[picture taken by me! 4th Aug 2007, Collision Course Festival @ Yeovil Ski Lodge]

Why I'm writing this article:
Let's face it - gigs are some of the toughest events you'll have to dress for. There are so many different factors you have to consider before choosing your dream outfit: the weather, size of the venue, how you're getting there, whether you're seated or standing, the kind of bands you're seeing, whether the guy/girl you like will be there...just how is one meant to know what to wear?! Despite everything that must be considered, I feel I've got the art of dressing for gigs and festivals down to a fine art, due to simultaneously attending loads of the things and making foolish mistakes, such as wearing too many layers or brand new shoes on the day (ouch!). It's crucial to expect the unexpected and therefore dress appropriately!

RULE 1: Be comfortable!
'Comfortable' in this sense does NOT mean your old tracksuit bottoms or your holiest t-shirt, so don't even go there! Comfort in this sense means being both physically and mentally comfortable with your look. If you did go wearing the aforementioned garments, how embarrasing would it be to wear them around your friends, or upon meeting your most beloved musician?! Of course you'd feel rubbish, and that would show in your body language and the way you act. It's much better to keep your outfit simple, casual and layered (depending on the weather/venue) and completely YOU, for example your favourite fitted t-shirt with jeans, plus a light jacket or shirt if necessary. People are going to be more interested in watching the bands than watching you, so don't feel you have to wear your most outrageously coloured tulle skirt, or your sexiest & tightest corset.

Something I feel must have its own paragraph in this section are your SHOES. I can't stress enough how important your choice of footwear is! If you know you're going to be walking, standing around, dancing or moshing, your best option would be the most comfortable trainers or boots you own. I promise people won't be looking at your feet! If you choose to wear flats or wedges, it's likely that someone will step on them in their big metalhead boots (ouch!) or they'll be carried away with the crowd, never to be seen again. Prioritise comfort slightly over style and focus on having fun, not on the blisters on your feet!

RULE 2: Be practical!
Adjusting your everyday look to a slightly more practical one for the night will pay off. Comfortable footwear, as mentioned above, is a must, as well as something to carry your belongings in. Be creative with this! Only take essentials: I always carry my phone, tickets, money, tissues and sweets (food is expensive!) in a zip-up shoulder bag that goes across the body. This way, I know my bag can't be grabbed or fall off when I'm in a crowd. When I was younger & went to gigs on my own, I used to keep my money in my shoe so it wouldn't be stolen. This isn't always advisable, but hey! I never lost my cash.

Adding to this, it's likely that your clothing is going to get dirty, sweaty or covered in who-knows-what. Ensure your clothing is washable and that your shoes can be easily cleaned of mud and sticky stuff (what is that sticky stuff on the floor anyway?!). It won't be such a tragedy if some fool spills beer on your old jeans than it would be on your favourite dress.

Layered clothing is another must - we've all been there, shivering outside a club or venue in the cold November rain, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and skinny jeans. Most larger venues will have a cloakroom service you can take advantage of, so always phone ahead to make sure - this way, you can bring a jacket, scarf and compact umbrella without having to carry it around. Don't lose the ticket stub they give you! If you're going to a sweaty club venue where there isn't somewhere to stash your bulky clothing and you KNOW there'll be a downpour, a long-sleeve tee and light jacket should suffice, as well as a compact umbrella in your bag. Arriving late or taking shelter in the nearest pub can also be decent options in bad weather, as a sniffly nose and sore throat are not the ideal concert souveniers.

RULE 3: Don't wear or carry anything valuable!

Probably the worst mistake to make! Avoid wearing expensive accessories or anything with sentimental value, as you're likely to regret it. There are two reasons for this: you could lose it, or more seriously, it could increase your chances of being mugged or assaulted. Many city venues are in high crime areas, so use common sense - take the bare minimum.

Examine all valuables on your person before heading off and ask yourself: "Do I really need this? How serious would it be if I lost it/had it stolen?" Of course, items like phones are important in case you're separated from your friends, or need to request the parental taxi ride home early. Would it be better to trade your new iPhone for a parents' old mobile, just for the night? Phone thieves are common at concerts and mobiles easily fall out of pockets: just look at the floor of the venue once everyone's left. Wear the minimum amount of jewellery, especially if it's valuable to you or could come off/get caught on something easily. This makes things like necklaces and expensive bracelets a definite no-no!

RULE 4: Be safe!

Adding to the aforementioned necessities such as leaving your favourite jewellery at home, it's essential to keep your belongings, and most importantly yourself, safe. I know this doesn't particularly relate to clothing, but it's crucially important! Watch your bag, take advantage of safe storage areas for your bits and pieces (lockers, cloakrooms, etc) and always be alert. Plan your journey - write down train & bus times if using public transport to avoid hanging around by yourself at the station. It's always a good idea to take a group of friends or a particularly large male acquaintance if you're worried about your safety. Walking around places such as Brixton or Portsmouth at night is always unnerving, so do everything to keep yourself feeling safe.

RULE 5: Go nuts with your favourite hair and makeup!
After probably sounding like your mother for the last four points, the hair and makeup department is where you can literally do whatever you want! Your face is probably all that will be visible to most people, so don't hesitate to wear your most outrageous glittery eyeshadow and hairspray your 'style into oblivion. Gigs are all about fun, so make sure you have fun constructing your look, and that you'll rock it with pride. Some groups of people even use themes (neon face paint, anyone?!), do their makeup like the lead singer or even have a makeup-savvy friend construct their look for them. Bear in mind this is all optional, so think outside the box and don't be afraid to let your creative side show.

Product Tips:
- Hairspray: If you're going for an elaborate 'do, use a hairspray so strong it'll survive a nuclear explosion - the most rock-solid stuff you can find! I use Bed Head Hard Head, but I've heard nothing but good things about Got2Be Glued Hairspray.
- Spikes & 'Hawks: Want to get the maximum outrageous factor out of your short hair? Got2Be Glued is another product from the Got2Be range which will give you rock solid hold that'll endure anything (I kid you not!)
- Tough Makeup: It's unlikely your makeup will stay pristinely perfect all night, but using a good waterproof mascara and heavy-holding eyeliner such as MAC's Fluidline Liner will minimise the risk of accidental smudging.
- Outrageous Makeup: For the brightest, sexiest colours around, check out Lime Crime Makeup, Lush's sister store B and makeup artists' fixation MAC.

Some ideal gig outfits I constructed on Polyvore for your viewing pleasure - which are you?

Outfit #1:
This girl yearns to be a music photographer when she's older, but right now she settles with taking pictures of her favourite bands from the floor every week. She never leaves the house without her Nikon D80 and posts her work online as soon as she gets home. Her style is a little indie and a little emo - even though she loves gigs, she's a little shy & hides from the rest of the world under her purple wooly hat.

Outfit #2:
Favouring the mosh pit over the dancefloor, this girl is an unashamed concert lover, obsessed with metal, addicted to the adrenaline rush from repeatedly seeing her favourite bands & following them around the country on tour. Her parents can't understand this behaviour, & wonder why she returns home every weekend covered in other peoples' sweat.

Outfit #3:
Throwing practicality out of the window, this girl's favourite hobbies include dancing, browsing the counter at MAC and spending more in a week on hairspray than she does on food. She's developed rock-hard calluses on her feet from wearing high heels each day, as she refuses to be seen dead in a scruffy pair of Chucks.

Outfit #4:
Gigs are a guilty pleasure for this girl. Instead of staying in to help her mother with the baking or conduct lengthy telephone calls to her friends, she sneaks out of the house to see her favourite bands live. She stays well away from the mosh pits in fear of messing up her hair & giving away her dirty secret, but she loves to dance and flirt shamelessly with the boys she meets.

Thanks for reading - hope this helps!


  1. This is a reallly good article. I like it.

  2. Thank you! I've been wanting to write it for a couple of days, especially with the festivals coming up in the summer. The worst part is definitely 'losing your favourite jewellery' part - heartbreaking!

  3. Fantastic advice! I often find footwear the hardest part of the ensemble - comfy, yet stylish. So hard to find!

  4. Thanks! :D I always choose foot comfort over style if I know I'm going to be walking or going somewhere dirty - I'd be devastated if I ruined my nicest shoes!


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