A Pre-Gov Ball Lesson in the Do’s and Don’ts of Festival Fashion


In less than a week, Governors Ball 2015 will bring more than 50 bands spanning various genres to Randalls Island for New York’s most beloved regional festival, drawing 50,000 music fans per day to catch sets from Drake, the Black Keys, Tame Impala, Deadmau5, Florence + the Machine, My Morning Jacket, and many, many more. Gov Ball has come to symbolize a kick-off of sorts for summer in NYC, and the show goes on whether the sun is blazing (as it did last year) or there’s a tropical storm loosing a torrential downpour on three feet of mud (as was the case in 2013, which we’re still recovering from).

While music plays the biggest part in NYC’s biggest party, Gov Ball is, without a doubt, a place to see and be seen, and many festival-goers want to look their best without sacrificing practicality (which means leaving the platform boots at home unless you want to ice down your aching feet every night). We’ve assembled a handy list of do’s and don’ts that will keep you from any awkward run-ins with the fashion police and have you rocking the whole weekend in style.

DO: Let your freak flag fly

On any given day in New York City, there’s someone dressed in an insane getup just to grab coffee. So at a summertime music festival on Randalls Island, that effect should be happening ten-fold. That iridescent onesie that’s been shining expectantly in the back of your closet since your impulse buy at American Apparel, the mini-dress with the sculptural collar you wore for a friend’s photo shoot one time, the thrift-store crocheted caftan you haven’t touched since last year’s Halloween costume as a fishing net — wear it all, maybe even at the same time. Björk will be there, and will probably commend your avant-garde sartorial choices.

DO: Rock that rock ‘n’ roll homage tee

Lifelong fan of AC/DC? Diehard Black Sabbath devotee? Obsessed with all things Ramones? Well, guess what: You’re at a big ol’ outdoor rock concert, so there’s no better place to (literally) wear your musical heart on your sleeve. As long as you’re not wearing the T-shirt of a band that’s actually playing (a faux pas famously outlined in PCU) there is little wrong you can do, and band tees are a great conversation starter if you’re looking to meet other fans who dig your taste in music, too.

DO: Brighten up your locks with a Technicolor dye-job

Now is the time to flaunt the purple ombré of your dreams. When your hair is the stuff of manic pixie dream girl legend, you barely have to worry about the rest of your ensemble, because you’ll stand out in a crowd no matter what.

DON’T: Steal your look from a culture that doesn’t belong to you

Nothing says Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect like a little cultural appropriation, right? WRONG. Here’s a (very brief) history lesson: Your neighborhood isn’t just gentrified — it was straight-up stolen from the Lenape tribe in the 1600s. They didn’t even wear the many-feathered war bonnets favored by the Plains tribes that are somehow making a comeback with clueless white people at festivals like Gov Ball. While we’re at it, unless you are Mexican, don’t wear a sombrero. And if you’re white, please don’t even think about wearing a gigantic Afro wig. TV on the Radio had to stop their set at Hangout Fest a few weeks ago to call someone out for doing just that.

DO: Get Cheeky

Underbutt should not be reserved for those with “perfect” derrières. Everyone could use some sun where the sun doesn’t normally shine, so don’t let anyone shame you into covering up if you don’t wanna, no matter what that booty looks like after years of sitting on it at your thankless desk job.

DO: Rep your fav foods while noshing at Gov Ball’s awesome vendors

You gotta eat, and the Gov Ball snack selection is varied enough that no line is ever too long. The best part is that you don’t have to get sauce on your shirt to let everyone else know what you’ll be scarfing down this weekend. Kitschy food prints are popping up on all kinds of silhouettes, so no one can accuse you of having bad taste.

DON’T: Get stuck on selfie sticks

Unless there’s something other than a smartphone at the end of it that you can wave around when you lose your friends so that they’ll find you more easily — maybe a stuffed unicorn or a washed-up action-movie star’s face? — that selfie stick isn’t going to be useful for anything except inducing major eye-rolling in your immediate vicinity. In theory, Gov Ball is about enjoying music, not updating your OKCupid profile with a hawt pic or Snapchatting your friends in the service industry who don’t get to take weekends off ever.

DO: Blot out the sun with some jet-black shades

Also works well if you’re hungover from yesterday. Or perhaps on some other plane altogether.

Governors Ball descends upon Randalls Island June 5–7. For the full lineup, ticket information, and more, click here.

See also:
Throw Yourself an Alternative Governors Ball With These Ten Concert Picks
This Is How Sharon Van Etten Thrives (and Survives) at Music Festivals
Eight Ways You Can Rock Governors Ball on a Budget

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