Where Authenticity Goes to Die? A Look at Coachella Festival Dressing

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home

Last summer I covered my thoughts on EDM Festival attire so covering Coachella seemed like a natural next blog. But I was a tad reluctant as it is well discussed all over the fashion blogosphere. As I hummed and hawed an old friend reached out (Hi Cherie) and asked me to do it.  I guess it is fashion destiny or something.

Like any city's fashion week, trends emerge. However, with the Indio, California bound fashion (I mean music) fans it appears that this is the place where trends get repeated year over year and arguable go to die. Maybe the event marquee says, “Coachella: So many people wearing are the same thing your stupid, unoriginal outfit won’t even stand out!“ Woof. 

Here are five trends that signal, “I’m going to Coachella!” 

1. The Crop Top

Nothing says summer is nearly here like an exposed midriff. This trend is going on its third full season and shows no signs of stopping. That’s fine. What I wish would stop is the unbalance and over exposed accompanying clothing choices. Crop top and booty shorts are a bit too much, me thinks. Now I am not one to follow so called fashion rules that no one seems to where they came from but unstylish people quote quicker than Forever 21 sells out of peace sign necklaces, however, if you’re showing everything off, your eye can’t focus on any one thing. It’s body chaos! It’s like a car accident. It’s horrible, too much skin, yet I cannot look away. I’m confused and a little turned on.

2. The Forehead Hair Band

Sometimes I reminisce about being a young child running through my family farm’s lush crops. Sometimes I smile at the twirl of a young child’s full skirt. These two childhood memories of mine are now populating this weekend’s Instagram feed. However nostalgic I never seem to reminisce about headbands around my head. There’s something about a thin band, be it flower bedazzled or just leather than makes me very irate. Upon deep reflection I can’t articulate why other than I have seen so few people pull it off. It’s trying too hard with no payoff. Something I heard long ago was, wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you (my apologies for the lack of source). By all means, if a single thin band that cuts into your forehead and give you an odd hair bump is like, totally you, wear it. Just beware that if I see you I’m pulling and letting it slap on your head over and over, if only in my mind.

3. The Fringe

Fashion folks, I love a fringe. Love it. However, it is so cliché to include it as your go to at Coachella. It's too easy of a choice. I have never ascribed to, “wear what others wear,” as my sole guiding style principal. That said, I do ascribe to wear what you feel and look great in. So for those who are wearing just because everyone else is, shame on you. You are ruining it for the rest of us who love fringe all the other non-Coachella days of the year.

4. The Desert Print

Be it a top, bag, men’s short, walking shoe or jacket, it’s everywhere. My fear is that however popular it is I’m not sure of the original source of the print. Are we ripping it off of someone or some place? And because it’s so visual and easy to see, it seems to stick out more to me. To the point that it becomes overwhelming. It’s a bit like jailbird stripes and how when it’s on everyone it looses it’s lustre.

5. The Cultural Appropriation

Many festivals have banned attendees from wearing first nations headdresses into their grounds. About time! Merrit, B.C.’s Bass Coast and Scotland's Glastonbury festival are recent adopters of this policy. As I said again and again it’s just so gross. If you don’t believe me, that fine, but please consider a Chief from an Indian Band near the B.C. festival.

“I support the ban 100 per cent. I think it’s important that people understand that when First Nations people – it depends on the culture, of course – but when First Nations people wear headdresses it’s usually in a ceremonial kind of setting or relates to the First Nations culture. It’s not for parties or dances.”  - Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Indian Band 

I can hear the haters saying, “Sarah, you’re such a buzz kill.” To which I retort the following few thoughts: I am all for getting into the spirit of things. I also love vacation preparation shopping and packing said shopping with outfits in mind. That’s all good. What isn’t good is when it’s all for show and is not reflective of the true you. It feels a bit like adult dress up. Exploration is fantastic; posing for the sake of it amongst a sunny sea of hippy-esk clones is stupid. 

Your clothing, no matter the venue, should be genuine and reflective of your personality. Have fun, of course but it should feel like you. If your “you” looks like everyone else’s “you”, you need a new “you.”