It’s that time of year. Thousands seeking music from many different artists, all at once, and under the threat of extremely sunny skies, have gathered at Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. But what’re they wearing?
Most festgoers seem to have a finely tuned sense of how to put together a look that strikes the ideal balance of comfort and style. An art, yes, but call it what it really is: a survival tactic. Just like at sea, there are laws that exist only on the park’s notoriously shadeless slopes during ACL.And every year we see our fair share of outlaws.
A full jean? Godspeed, soldier. A pointy heel? We’ll remember you. An open toe? It sounds like a good idea, I know, but you’ll see. A jacket “just in case, for later”? You beautiful fool.
Having lived through this Instagram cycle for many years now, it’s my read that an optimal ACL outfit is comfort-driven at its core and embellished (mercilessly) with trending accoutrements. It’s like that Coco Chanel quote about taking one thing off before leaving the house, except if she instead suggested always adding a body chain. Yes to the fringe belt. Yes to the sunglasses. Yes to the kerchief, the earrings, the body jewels, and yes, absolutely yes, to the hat—bucket, cowboy, or otherwise. Because if there’s one event a year that’s meant for saying yes to a hat, it is upon us.
ACL fashion seems most effective when it serves to remind you that it’s not all that serious. That’s why there’s at least one person each year dressed as a banana. But what are some of the nonfruit trends we saw on the field? Hell-bent on staying cool, plenty of festers opted for the unique breathability offered by crocheted pieces. There also were notably more belly buttons this year. Low rise really is making a divisive reappearance. The playful and over-the-top seventies-inspired looks that have come to adorn Harry Styles’s entire fan base ruled the park. With flared and stretchy sets in floral and abstract patterns, the festival interpretation is loose and always colorful, if not neon. Sometimes it’s mixed with a big ol’ serving of yeehaw. As in years past, festgoers were big on Western wear and its many derivatives. At an event with both the Chicks and Kacey Musgraves as headliners, there was plenty of reason to don a cowboy hat or fringe—or a cowboy hat with a fringe curtain.
Also big were casual, custom band T-shirts with a favorite lyric or performer’s name, sometimes worn long and oversized as a dress. Many fans had their hair in bubble braids, and I heard from a friend that someone was doing the hairstyle on-site (complete with glitter) in one of the tents.
Obviously, though, the point (and joy) of festival fashion is wearing whatever you want; anything goes. Unless whatever you want would hamper your ability to comfortably walk the length of a large, dusty field several times over. In which case, add a body chain.