Two years ago I went to Bonnaroo, way out in the green fields of Tennessee. I brought with me some dresses, skirts, bohemian tops, and a pair of jean shorts. I was greeted with a 95-degree dust-and-dirt bowl and not nearly enough sunscreen, and proceeded to wear those jean shorts for four days. Summer concert season is tough: You want to look cute, but you also need to be cool and comfortable enough to dance — while armed with essentials like sunglasses, cell phones and wallets. And this year, all of these "street" photographers are coming out of the woodwork, so chances are you want to at least look presentable. As someone already booked into several epic hot-night-in-the-city concerts (David Byrne in Prospect Park! TV on the Radio! Northside!), here's what I'm pulling out of my closet.
"Boyfriend" Jean Shorts: I have a pair of beat-up, oversize, rolled-cuff jean shorts by Alexander Wang that I wear religiously on rough-and-tumble Saturdays with a wispy tank and maybe a blazer. While not actually my boyfriend's (in fact, he's already dismissed them as my "construction worker butt" shorts), when faced with the prospect of sitting on a grassy knoll (or dirt patch), they're my go-to. The more dirty they become, the better they look.
Jumpsuits, Rompers, Onesies: It's like a dress... but with legs! It's a chic, summery solution to all the sitting-down-on-a-picnic-blanket flashing that plagues these shows. Please, if only for my sake, reconsider that short floaty skirt.
Sensible Shoes: No heels, no wedges, no platforms. Flats only. I'd recommend sandals that wrap securely around your ankle, since, for example, you could be running to meet your friend and one of your flip-flops could fly off your foot, blinding an innocent bystander. It's happened. Another great option is super-cheap canvas tennis shoes that you can toss in the washing machine afterward.
A Messenger-Style Bag: You can dance with it, you can run with it, and — blessing of blessings — it's actually really on-trend right now.
A Scarf: One's always sweltering watching a show with the sun over one's head, but then suddenly the sun's gone and your sweaty bare shoulders are a little chilled as you head to the concession stand for another beer. A lightweight scarf's easy to pack into your bag, so why not?
What to Avoid: For the sake of those dancing next to you, please avoid large bags, long necklaces and (you'd be surprised how often I hear this one) high ponytails. Pretty much anything that will smack your neighbor as you swing. I'd add to that roster jewelry that makes noise. I'm here to listen to the band, not you. Oh, and anything you're worried might get dirty, scuffed, or otherwise worn. Hello? It's an outdoor concert. The goal here is to forget about what you're wearing and enjoy being outside with music in the air around you — who wants to be waylaid by some errant shoe or heavy bag?