Coachella may have had showgoers pulling out the fringe and flower crowns in April, but in B.C., festival season is just getting under way. And with another jam-packed calendar of concerts comes an opportunity to experiment a little with your wardrobe.
“It’s an opportunity for people to go outside of what they would normally wear day to day, because they’re inspired by either the music or the culture of the festival,” Mana Mansour, television host and local style expert, tells the Straight. “And it’s a great time for people to try trends that are really of-the-moment.”
Ahead, Mansour shares her must-have looks for four of this summer’s biggest music fetes.
Music fests aren’t all mosh pits and shared showers, as attendees will discover once the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival rolls into town from June 24 to July 3. The event will see the likes of Lauryn Hill, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Sarah McLachlan playing shows at some of the city’s classiest venues, giving you an excuse to flaunt your finest throwback garb.
“When I think of jazz, I think about Billie Holiday and the musicians of the 1940s and ’50s,” says Mansour. “So bringing that old-school, retro flavour to the jazz fest is the perfect opportunity to have fun with fashion.”
For ladies, this means breaking out the vintage-inspired silhouettes—think classic A-lines or midi skirts in modern hues—and a pair of killer heels.
For men, it’s a tailored suit jacket, dress shirt, and patterned bow tie loud enough to match the artists’ funk. Complete the look with chino shorts and boat shoes if you’re catching a daytime show, and a fitted trouser and dress shoes at night.
Stacked with high-wattage headliners like Jack Ü, Zedd, and Galantis, this year’s FVDED in the Park (July 2 and 3) is well worth the trip over the Port Mann Bridge to Surrey’s Holland Park. The 30-plus-minute drive from Vancouver, however, still stands, so you may as well look the part once you’ve committed to the commute.
Mansour notes that the EDM–heavy fest lends itself well to DIY dress and daring ensembles. Donning swimwear as tops—whether it’s a nylon bikini or plunging one-piece—is a growing trend, as is sporting workout wear front-row. “That whole normcore and athleisure look is really big right now,” says Mansour.
The stylist suggests throwing a lightweight bomber—we love the embroidered jackets at Topshop (various locations)—over a neoprene bralette, ’90s choker, and high-waist biker-style shorts. Guys, meanwhile, can tap into the fest’s playful vibe by dressing in a cool kaleidoscopic T, cuffed denim, and a baseball cap. Sneakers and an easy-to-carry backpack will ensure you can comfortably wile out once Skrillex and Diplo hit the stage.
With the Squamish Valley Music Festival all but a distant memory, the Pemberton Music Festival (July 14 to 17) is now B.C.’s sole answer to Coachella. And just as the rolling sands of Indio, California, are ruled by distressed denim, crochet, and breezy tunics, so too does Pemberton play host to its own distinctly West Coast fashions.
“You have these influences from being in nature and being in this beautiful setting,” says Mansour, “so it’s kind of like that hippie-meets-Pacific-Northwest vibe.”
The stylist calls this style “boho-Canadiana”, explaining that she’s a big fan of the gender-neutral denim-on-denim look. But whether you opt for the Canadian tuxedo, the equally patriotic “lumberjack”—a plaid button-down paired with cutoffs and Hunter Wellingtons—or an airy kimono cardigan tossed over a linen top and double-buckle-belted shorts, comfort reigns supreme.
“You’re most likely camping, so footwear is key,” stresses Mansour. Well-worn, western-inspired boots for women and Chuck Taylors for the boys will do—and not only because they’ll make the dash from SZA’s set to Pearl Jam’s a hell of a lot easier.
Although remnants from the ’70s have been spotted on runways and in fast-fashion outlets for the past few seasons, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which takes place from July 15 to 17, will offer local folk lovers a chance to go over-the-top with the trend.
“The folk fest is probably the one that’s the most hippie and Woodstock-esque,” says Mansour. “It’s the one where you could probably get away with wearing a look that’s very reminiscent of that era.”
Ladies, it’s time to raid your closets—or your mothers’ closets—for the widest bell-bottoms you can find. Balance the pant with a fitted off-the-shoulder or crochet top, and accessorize with a layered bolo necklace and wide-brim hat. If you’re falling short at home, B.C.–based denim label Fidelity crafts a range of wide-leg options, while bell-sleeve dresses are also a weather-appropriate pick.
Gentlemen can update the free-spirited look by sticking with a crisp, short-sleeve button-up decorated in a psychadelic print. Finish with frayed or rolled-up jean shorts, and leather accessories—a belt, watch, or wrap bracelets—in a weathered brown or black.