Home Music Music Lists

45 Years of Music Festival Fashion: From Woodstock to Electric Daisy

Dissecting the looks that have defined iconic events in music history

festival fashion robin hallock karen o yeah yeah yeah

Bill Eppridge//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images; Karl Walter/Getty Images)

In the 45 years since the first Woodstock Music & Art Fair, festival fashion has become a cottage industry. From the beginning, attendees' style choices indicated they were part of a subculture, a subset of society hell-bent on bucking the system (and in the case of Woodstock, going buck-naked). Through the years, large-scale music festivals have gradually become par for the course, from Live Aid and Lollapalooza to more current incarnations Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival, which inspire both fashion magazines and retail outlets to devote significant space to "festival fashion" spreads. And while each fest has had its stylistic hallmark, the original outdoor musical fete has set the tone — everyone's still just trying to recapture the sartorial freedom and irreverence of those original flower children. Here's a look at the flowing dresses, the piled-on necklaces and the literal flames that have comprised music festival style through the years. By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

woodstock

Bill Eppridge/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Woodstock

Laiiiid back. This original Woodstock attendee's embellished hat and sandals are perfectly suited for his relaxation vibes, perched — where else! — on a Chevy Nova. The accessories are classic — any dude could wear this full outfit today and look perfect for summer, although if he ventures off the beach he must not forget the hippie death knell, "No shirt, no shoes, no service."

woodstock robin hallock

Bill Eppridge//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Woodstock

A tent dress piled on with bead necklaces, frosted lipstick, and copious eyeliner: in 1969, she's at Woodstock, in 2009, she's a leading lady on The Hills.

Woodstock Rose Simpsons Incredible String Band

Tucker Ranson/Pictorial Parade/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Woodstock

The diaphanous dress worn by the Incredible String Band's Rose Simpson looks like a prototype for a Givenchy couture collection, 40 years ahead of its time. You could imagine this on any number of contemporary artists — though it gives us Ellie Goulding vapors the most — but gave Rose the impression of being an acoustic hippie angel.

Miss Mercy Altamont

Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Altamont

At Altamont, the GTOs' Miss Mercy presaged the 1970s with her headscarf and chic raccoon eyes, which made her look super chic while conveying what everyone knew: the era of peace and love was ending. Those are the eyes of impending cynicism.

live aid sade

Peter Still/Redferns

Live Aid

Nineteen-eighty-five Sade looks identical to 2014 Sade, both in skin freshness (seriously woman, what is your secret?!) and style-wise: the classic mock turtleneck and stretchy skirt would be a perfectly clean look for today. Add a bright red fur stole, and this could be on Rihanna. 

Live Aid Don Johnson

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Live Aid

Don. Johnson. Is there a Migos song about this guy yet? The actor is giving so much 1985 realness in this photo. Full linen, a Cuban hat, and mandals are complimented by a freaking briefcase — because in the Eighties, even Don Johnson spends some of his vacation trading stocks.

Live aid madonna

Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Live Aid

Madonna's floral pants and multiple layers and lengths of brocade invoke both hippie love and Marie Antoinette decadence, which sums up her 1980s estilo quite nicely. 

lollapalooza

Steve Eichner/WireImage

Lollapalooza

These two attendee-lovers at the 1993 Lollapalooza embody the era in a nutshell: his 'n' hers eyeliner, greasy hair and DIY hemlines, à la the dude on the right's duct-taped pants. The Sixties thought they had "anything goes" on lock, but the Nineties dunked it from the cut.

Lollapalooza Babes in Toyland

Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Lollapalooza

Kat Bjelland, singer/guitarist of perennially underrated Nineties band Babes in Toyland, epitomized the era's baby doll look: a crisp white frock, toddler barrettes and double braids peroxided to the max. Its sweetness belied the devil whorl of their feminist guitars, a perfect paradox.

Coachella Kanye West

Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

Coachella

This is back when Kanye was still wearing multiple hues at once — all the way in 2011. Because Coachella operates in the shadow of Woodstock more than any other American festival, we got to give it up to his friendship bracelets and Hendrixian chest-hair.  

bjork coachella

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Coachella

Imagine if Björk had borrowed George Clinton's Lolla outfit to wear with her pom-pom headpiece? Better yet: a duet.

Coachella M.I.A.

Dove Shore/Getty Images

Coachella

Captain M.I.rAve is in the building and she orders you to dance in the name of revolution, and also her excellent embroidered officer's sash. Handmade, no doubt.

Coachella Karen O. Yeah Yeah yeahs

Karl Walter/Getty Images

Coachella

Karen O's gold-coin dress and oil-slick gauntlet: these very likely are made of materials they had not yet invented in the Sixties. This is the promise of the 21st Century fulfilled.

Electric Daisy Carnival Empire of the Sun

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Electric Daisy Carnival

Empire of the Sun's backup dancer can shred a giant fake guitar with her eyes closed. WAH-WAHH. Sorry.

Electric Daisy Carnival Diplo

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Electric Daisy Carnival

Diplo's taken festival fashion to black-tie affair like the adult man he is, but still couldn't resist accessorizing with — is that a rave inhaler?!

Show Comments