It takes a special something for a festival outfit to achieve iconic status, whether it’s carnival-esque extravagance worn by the likes of Bjork to the more understated yet quintessential boho-chic from Sienna Miller. But if you’re after some inspiration for your own festival outfits, let’s face it, those looks in particular serve way more novelty nostalgia than wearability.
Join us as we delve into the past for a look back at some of the most defining looks in festival history – looks so ordinary that they’ve probably slipped your mind but that have in fact stood the test of time and still have their place at festivals and gigs everywhere today.
Janis Joplin – Woodstock, 1969
There’s no denying that Janis Joplin’s full tie-dye outfit at the historic Woodstock in 1969 serves as an archetype of true hippie style, complete with bell sleeves, flared pants and tinted round glasses. This distinctively retro 60s/70s look may be way out of your comfort zone, but rock up like this at Boomtown and honestly nobody would bat an eyelid.
Morrissey, The Smiths – Glastonbury, 1984
Every indie boy considers young Morrissey a style icon, and his outfit from The Smith’s Glastonbury set in 1984 is a great example of a look that is still very much current today in that kind of scene. With his oversized blazer and that pajama-like striped shirt, a look that feels very emblematic of the decade, Morrissey here wouldn’t look out of place if he time travelled to The Shacklewell Arms today. Maybe even throw on a dangly earring for good measure.
Sinead O’Connor – Glastonbury, 1990
Black leather jacket, high waisted jeans, tucked-in graphic tee, black lace up boots – this simple yet effortlessly stylish outfit has not aged one bit in 19 years. What makes it so great is how it represents Sinead’s unashamedly modest and genuine style that stuck two fingers up at her record label who unsuccessfully tried to ‘sex’ her up in miniskirts. Even that buzzed haircut has totally made a comeback.
Ian Brown, The Stone Roses – Spike Island, 1990
Another completely timeless look if the streets of today are anything to go by. Though this baggy white long-sleeve and baggy trousers seems incredibly simple, Ian Brown’s look from The Stone Roses’ iconic Spike Island gig in 1990 is the perfect embodiment of that classic normcore ‘Madchester’ style that so many guys, maybe unknowingly, are influenced by today.
Also worth an honorable mention and falling under a similar category here is Underworld’s Karl Hyde at Glastonbury 1999.
Kurt Cobain, Nirvana – Hollywood Rock Festival, 1993
The whole point of a real ‘grunge’ look is that it’s not really meant to be a look at all. Yet somehow Kurt Cobain’s unkempt, thoughtless, thrown-together look of an open baggy shirt over a band t-shirt not only became his signature style, synonymous with that Seattle sound, but also an enduring aesthetic that some actively try to replicate today.
Skin, Skunk Anansie – BRIT Awards, 1997
Though not strictly a ‘festival’, this shot of Skin from Skunk Anansie’s performance at the 1997 Brit Awards is such a look (also apparently worn earlier pre-tattoo as seen above) if you’re into this whole Y2K revival, that is. You might have thought we’d leave low-rise pants, metallics and stick-on gems firmly back in the 90s/early noughties but the last couple of years of fashion has seen all these things and more welcomed back onto the streets, at raves and certainly at festivals.
Eminem & Marilyn Manson – Reading 2001
This whole ‘goth rap’ hip-hop-metal hybrid style that’s everywhere today, popularised by the likes of Lil Peep and Yung Lean, appears to have strangely sprung out of nowhere – in fact, the marriage of rap and metal is nothing new. These two seemingly opposite worlds in music have been colliding for years, maybe perfectly summed up by when Marilyn Manson hopped on stage with Eminem and D12 at Reading Festival in 2001. What should be an awkward pairing in both fashion and music somehow totally works.
Lily Allen – Glastonbury, 2007
It’s no surprise to see Lily Allen in a prom dress and trainers, a combo that she became famous for early in her career, but what makes this Glastonbury 2007 look so special is that there’s something so heart-warmingly British about it. Teamed with a hoodie, muddy barbour jacket and a can of beer in her hand, she is every British girl dressed pretty-yet-practical and having the time of her life at a festival in the rain.