The past two weekends, the Claremont campuses have emptied
out considerably as students flocked to Indio, California for Coachella. Though concertgoers shelled out hefty sums of cash and
abandoned their studies for a weekend of Radiohead, Snoop Dogg, Bon Iver and
some extra surprises like Rihanna and a hologram of Tupac, Coachella
fashion can be almost as big of an incentive to attend as the music itself.
“I need to go shopping for Coachella.” “Help me plan my
Coachella outfits!” “I don’t dress hip enough for Coachella!” These were all
phrases heard in Claremont surrounding the two April weekends of the festival,
where students put their creative energy into comprising the most
quintessentially music festival-ready ensembles, complete with piles of jewelry
and just-tough-enough boots.
Certainly an extension of the revival of the 1970s in
fashion, Coachella clothing embodies a Janis Joplin/ Fleetwood Mac aesthetic
with modern touches. With crochet tops and chunky knits, tribal prints, statement
sunglasses, floral and feathered headdresses atop braided hair and embellished
shorts, the style is carefree and cool yet oh-so-deliberate. Cami Campbell SC ’15, who attended the first weekend, making it her sixth trip to Coachella, added
that the fashion was “very bohemian” and that people were “trying to look like they don’t
Why has music festival fashion become so sought-after and
idealized? We like to evoke a time when hazy floral prints
and grass-sweeping skirts were matched with fringe embellishments and protest
signs to make love and not war. In a sense, we all wish we were college
students in Woodstock era. Coachella and similar music festivals allow us to
return to a time we never even experienced.
If the event of a music festival like Coachella were seen
through a purely utilitarian lens, the fashion would look quite different. From
the scorching heat during the day to the cold desert winds at night,
practicality would mean plenty of sun protection, warm layers for the evening
and even rain jackets for the attendees of the first weekend. Where would the
fun be in that, though?
Style bloggers from near and far traveled to Coachella simply
to report on the unique and often impractical get-ups donned by celebrities and
ordinary attendees alike—and maybe even the odd Claremont student. Though I didn’t go to the festival, I got
my fair share of Coachella fashion online and felt like I missed out
more on the great people-watching than the music.
“Girls mostly wore bandeaus,
leather sandals and flower head bands. Guys chose tanks, shorts and Ray-Bans…
regardless of their fashion choices, everyone was wearing a layer of sweat,” said Gracie Weaver SC
’15, who attended the second weekend of Coachella.
If you check out a different music festival, be it Bonnaroo,
Lollapalooza, Sasquatch or one of the many other offerings this summer, you will still get your fair dose of music festival fashion. It is a similar look, and you do not need to go only to Indio to see it. As
college students in Southern California, we have the advantage of seeing and
exhibiting breezy, summery, Coachella-reminiscent fashion pretty much
year-round. Our friends at school on the East Coast and in the Midwest, however, have
to reserve their cut-off shorts and sheer tops for the summer months, and
what they can do with winter clothing is inevitably covered by heavy
Claremont students definitely tap into these styles just for
the sunny days and the parties on campus, so we still get a taste of festival-appropriate
creativity here in this tiny inland town. Coachella and similar music festivals
seem like some of the only places where it is socially acceptable—and even
encouraged—to show so much skin in the name of being artsy and fashionable. Yet on liberal arts campuses in sunny Southern California,
like the Claremont Colleges, we see a translation of this extreme festival
fashion trickling down into the mainstream of school wear.