By Grace Kelly

In 2012, I joined the masses converging on the California desert, just outside of Palm Springs and Joshua Tree for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival – better known simply as Coachella. My friend Angela, a girl who was practically raised at Burning Man, convinced me to go with her. To be honest, it didn’t take much convincing. A weekend of music, camping, and dancing our faces off in the desert? Yes, please.  

We flew into LAX and rented a minivan so we could drive and shelter ourselves from the elements. Those who think minivans are uncool have got it all wrong. The seats folded into the floor and it was the perfect size for our sleeping pads and packs to fit side-by-side – take that tent camping!  Once we were set up, we headed out to the stages with thousands of others for a weekend to remember (or not).

I have a lot of respect for festival-goers. It’s an absolute blast, but if I’m honest, I have to admit it’s actually quite hard work that takes a bit of planning. You can’t just show up and expect to hear all your favorite bands. You really have to make your plan and map it out. At Coachella in particular, some of the stages are nearly a mile apart, so between walking/running, dancing, and jamming out, it can be a pretty exhausting endeavor if you’re unprepared. 

Exhausting or not, it’s totally worth it to see some of your favorite musicians performing in the middle of the desert.  A few highlights for me were The Black Keys, Justice, Radiohead, Bon Iver, The Shins, and Snoop Dogg. Yes, Snoop Dogg. And 2Pac even made a hologram appearance that was so realistic even his mother would have done a double take. Crazy!

So, are you ready to pack your bags and hit the festivals? Grab a reliable backpack and get ready to take inventory. Here are a few of my must-haves for a fashionable and functional festival season.


Outdoor festivals almost always mean extra exposure to the sun and elements. Fortunately for the ladies, the wide brimmed hat has made a comeback just in time to protect you from heatstroke. For the fellas, go with a wide brimmed hat or a cap made of breathable fabrics like linen. Not only will your hat add a touch of fashion, it will also double as a functional tool for keeping your head cool and your hair out of your eyes during that 22-minute encore performance by Daft Punk.


It seems counter-intuitive for summertime, but make sure to bring an extra layer like a jacket.  The combination of summer heat and camping may leave you covered in dirt and sweat during the day, but come nightfall, you will be so glad you packed an extra layer to accommodate the cooler temperatures.  I recommend something cropped and well-tailored for the ladies and mid length and utilitarian for the gents. Pro tip: It’s never a bad idea to have extra pockets, especially since you’re sure to be away from your camp site (or mini van) the majority of the day.

Lightweight Prints

It’s a festival after all – a celebration of music and art and fun – so why not celebrate with bold colors and vibrant prints? Here, I recommend dresses and tank tops for ladies and fellas, respectively. Keep it printed and loose-fitting, because if you’re like me, you’ll be dancing, moving, and sweating like crazy. Ladies, look for dresses that can be worn over, under, or on their own. There are endless varieties that fit the bill, but if you’re like me, a midi or a hi-low maxi with a fun print is where it’s at. Guys can’t go wrong here. Just find a printed short-sleeve button down or tank, preferably with a front pocket. They’re breathable, easily function as a base layer, and give you an opportunity to take the ladies to the gun show, if you follow my meaning ;)


Last, but not least, make sure to pack footwear that will keep you comfortable and on your feet all day. This is a rookie mistake made by novices who think of festivals as a sprint instead of the marathon that they are. Do yourself a favor and consider your environment: You’re outdoors, on your feet all day, running from stage to stage, experiencing extreme heat or humidity, and trudging through a combination of mud, dirt, or sand. I cannot emphasize this enough: you will be exhausted and angry and annoyed if after you’ve waited 6 hours for the headlining act to finally come on stage at 2am, you’re ready to collapse because you can’t stay standing another minute. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love a pair of leather booties or spare flats as much as the next girl, but they just don’t cut it for festival season. That’s why Chaco sandals are my go-to. They’re comfortable, supportive, stay on your feet, and easily hose off in the lake or the shower (a quality most important at festivals). I’d recommend a cute double-strap option for the ladies – the ZX/2® Yampa for example – and a grippy single-strap for the guys, like the Z/1® Pro.

Whether you plan to attend Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Floyd, or one of the myriad other options, your feet will thank you.

If you want more ideas on what to pack, check out my Festival Fashion Pinterest board. Enjoy the festival season and remember, what happens at the festival stays at the festival ;) 




Comments (0)

What's a Chaconian?

You are Chaco!

Chaconians are our pride and joy! They pound pavement, trails, and waves. They teach, reach, and perform. They're people who trust their Chacos, and we're honored to support them.