A Look Back at Festival Fashion throughout the Decades

Ahh, festivals. Remember them? Partying in a packed field all day with your mates, knee-deep in mud and listening to banging tunes. If only. As we are potentially missing yet another year of fun, the festival blues are really hitting hard. But, it’s not all doom and gloom! Looking back at the best festi-fits throughout the decades can give us a glimmer of hope (and inspo) for when we will be partying again.


1960s


Woodstock, 1969 – the legendary festival to end all festivals. Marketed as “3 Days of Peace & Music”,

Woodstock was a seminal event for the counterculture movement. The apparel seen on the attendees encapsulated ‘60s and early ‘70s fashion completely – a total boho dream. Bell-bottoms, flowing fabrics, and lots of suede.


Woodstock celebrated peace and love, and was seen as the amalgamation of the hippie lifestyle. Attendees of all genders roamed around half-nude, championing the free-spirit vibe. Home-made clothing, such as tie-dye tees and crotched bras were a staple amongst the nearly half a million festival goers. DIY’ing your jeans was also in, with patchworking, painting, fraying and embroidering to create your own unique pair that highlighted your individual style.


People had also begun travelling more in the ‘60s, with the popularity of the hippie trail and camper vans, many hippies brought non-Western clothing to Woodstock. Ponchos were worn with traditional African dress, alongside kaftans and chong kraben.


It is clear by looking at today’s festival fashion where it’s inspirational roots lie. ‘60s psychedelic prints and DIY vibes can be seen at festivals all around the country.


1980s


The 1980s was famed for its bright, block colours and slogan tees. Neon tutus, legwarmers and huge shoulder-pads also reigned supreme. It is hard to go to a festival nowadays without seeing a neon windbreaker, or ski jacket. Mass sold by Depop resellers, or vintage sellers at the festivals themselves. It seems everywhere you look, a brightly coloured jacket catches your eye.


Unlike ‘60s styles, the ‘80s is definitely a less popular aesthetic worn. Unless, it’s a fancy-dress outfit, of course.


1990s


Mad for it! The 1990s is currently at its peak style-revival. Everywhere you look, ‘90s staples aren’t hard to spot. Bucket hats, bum-bags and bike shorts. The whole shebang! Subcultures dominated in the ‘90s, from underground raves, to alt-grunge and Britpop. Everybody could find a community right for them. In 1995 Glastonbury introduced it’s Dance Tent, solidifying EDM as a festival essential.


Rave attire is very popular with current festival goers, as it was back then – think neon fits with a lot of beads. Space buns and low-rise, baggy bottoms were also a major trend. Bright poppy colours remained from the 1980s style, but became grittier when adopted by the underground subcultures. The youth were searching for hedonism in the laser-filled, sweaty rooms that vibrated from the bass of the EDM.


A more mainstream culture was also prevalent – Britpop and Lad attitudes. Oasis vs. Blur and the idea of Cool Britannia swept the nation, where working-class heroes like the Gallagher brothers reigned supreme. Outfits looked back to the 60’s, with coloured sunnies and major Mod influences, to pay homage to the great musicians who came before. Exactly like today’s festival-fits paying homage to the 90’s style.


2010s


Social media boomed in the 2010s, resulting in festival fashion inspo and #OOTDs at our fingertips for the first time. Alexa Chung and Kate Moss were the It girls that we all wanted to be at the start of the decade. Flower crowns, denim shorts and Hunter wellies were the 2010s outfit staples, as well as a Barbour jacket.


However, a harmful shift happened in the 2010s. Fast fashion brands started making a lot of money through selling festival wear and influencer sponcon. The urge to buy and to look your best was heavily promoted by brands and celebs, resulting in one-wear outfit sales soaring.


The promoted idea that you need to buy a new wardrobe for one weekend is not sustainable. Fast fashion brands are pumping out clothing meant to look like the icon festi-fits of the ‘60s through to ‘90s. Handmade tie-dye tees turned into mass-produced, microplastic replicas.


Brands have already started pushing their festival collections, in hopes that people will be inclined to buy due to easing lockdown restrictions. But, what is the true cost? And, what would happen to those new purchases if festivals aren’t able to go ahead this year?


Before you go out and buy for this year’s festival season, consider shopping sustainably, or reusing what you already have.


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