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Apr 24, 201212:33 AM
Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard

From Hollywood to Reality

Dressing in style (and comfort) for Jazz Fest

Image Courtesy of nojazzfest.com

If anyone else out there is like me, you’ve been frequenting “real-life style blogs” such as Refinary29 and Stylelist to see what celebrities (and those striving to be) wore to Coachella.

When looking at these – mostly – ladies, I have to say that my first thoughts tended to “You can’t sit down in that!” and “You can see everything; she may as well be wearing a see-through bathing suit!” and “How hot must she be in that!”

Dressing for a music festival is complicated. You want to be comfortable but not look like you’re on your way to bed. You want to be dressed for the correct temperature but not be naked. You want to be able to walk anywhere at any time but not wear ugly shoes or get a heat rash. And at Jazz Fest at least (other music festivals sadly don’t offer the same array of tastiness that ours does – trust me, I know), you want to be able to eat without your stomach (or your shirt) showing every bite.

First, the main part of your outfit; or, “shorts or a skirt/dress?” I gravitate toward a dress that hits slightly above or slightly below the knee in black, grey or another darker neutral. That way I can sit on it and/or spill a little on it and no one’s the wiser. I also slightly cheat by wearing frilly bloomers (it’s like wearing shorts, and no one knows). It also goes with any accessory or shoe. However, if you have the legs for shorts, even walking shorts, I say go for it. Shorts give almost as much comfort as a skirt or dress, and you can accessorize them with different shirts, etc.

Headgear; or “hat or hair flower/feather/headband/bling?” I am known amongst my friends and some acquaintances as the “Big Red Hat Girl.” Spoiler: I own a big (six-inch brimmed) red hat.*  If that hat wasn’t how many people find us at Jazz Fest (and at second lines, other music festivals etc.) I would love to try the metallic headband trend, the fake floral headdress look or the feathery gypsy look. Anything can go at a festival, as long as it looks good on you. I will say this about hats, especially ones with very large brims: They keep your face from getting sunburned (and you don’t have to constantly reapply sunscreen, thus messing up your carefully crafted face) as well as your neck and shoulders, and you can place ice between your head and the hat, thus creating some well-needed air conditioning.

Shoes or “getting from here to there and back.” I am a lover of the classic cowboy boot; in fact, I wear a pair almost every day – but not to Jazz Fest. To the Fest I wear sandals, ones created for walking long distances that are easy to take on and off. Here’s the deal: You never know what you’re walking into at Jazz Fest. First and foremost, it’s a race track - for horses - and horses do, well, what horses do when they run. Don’t get me wrong, you’re never going to step in manure, but it often rains before, after and/or during the Fest and, with thousands of people walking and dancing throughout, dirt, mud and more rise to the surface. (As an aside, I know many people who go barefoot throughout the Fest, but I’m just not that adventurous.) I also enjoy sitting cross-legged and dancing on a blanket and keeping that blanket clean; that means that I need shoes to wear to get food and drink and to shop in, but ones that don’t need my hands to take off before sitting on a blanket (when my hands are full of food and drink). Galoshes are a great choice for rainy days. 

Underwear or “the things that go under the fashion choices.” Always, I will repeat this, always wear some sort of underwear. It can be cute or not, a swimsuit bottom or everyday wear, but it should breathe and be easy to take off and on in a port-o-john. For under your top, I strongly suggest the bikini. If it’s seen it’s cute, if it gets wet no worries and if you tan (let’s not say sunburn) you’ll have the same lines that you would from a beach. Also, it’s OK for it to be seen on its own if it’s so hot outside you need to be bare to your waist (no matter what, I just can’t condone wearing a bra without a covering over it).

Accessories or “the more the merrier.” Stacking comfortable bracelets up one’s arm is very in-trend and easy to accomplish (I went through my closet and had more long necklaces than could be wrapped and friendship bracelets than I know what to do with). The other nice thing is that, since they’re not mostly made of metal, when they get hot you don’t end up with a burn the shape of your bracelet (I speak from experience). Temporarily trying a fun hair color or style, layering necklaces and/or bracelets, using temporary tattoos, airbrushing metallic stars on your cheeks, even adding anklets over your shoes – use the Fest to step outside your comfort zone, you can always go back to work on Monday as your usual self.

You have three more days to shop (and cull through your closet) for first weekend; get to it!

*My first one lasted two Jazz Fests and two Bonnaroos. The second (a gift from a very close friend who – rightly – saw that it was time to replace the red-turned-light-pink-with-two-cigarette-burns hat) lasted three Jazz Fests, one Bonnaroo and one Hangout Music Festival. I have a new hat for this year, but it’s the same hat.

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Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard

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Morgan Packard may not be a native New Orleanian, but with every passing day New Orleans becomes more her home. Attending Newcomb College and gaining her masters from Tulane University, Packard immersed herself in the culture and peculiarities of the Big Easy, the culmination of which was reached when she joined the staff of Renaissance Publishing in May 2006. You can reach Morgan at (504) 830-7227 or morgan@myneworleans.com.

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