What to Wear to a Music Festival: 5 Essentials for Men

Summer music festivals have become an institution — but what do you wear and pack? We explore the four essential music festival clothes for men to help you pack, no matter if you're looking to chill out to the tropical sounds of Klingande or dance the night away to the pop house of Martin Solveig

Music festivals, whether you prefer strictly EDM or opt for the multi-genre medley that’s Coachella, have a few definitive characteristics. You’ll be out in the sun for hours – unless, if course, it rains. There’s always a large crowd. And, whether you’re walking, dancing, or simply relaxing, it’s always over dirt and grass.

Basic Tips for All Festival Clothing:

  • Light-weight for the summer heat
  • Quick-drying for sweat and unexpected rain
  • Doesn't show dirt because festivals are messy
  • Comfortable, easy to move in
  • Go for patterns or blues and browns over white

In this context, your clubbing clothes need to stay at home. Instead, be sure to bring the following.

Your Festival Clothing Packing List:

Metallic Mesh Festival Style Shirt from ASOS

1. Light-Weight Shirt That Stays Fresh

Your first rule: Keep it light. It doesn’t matter if you opt for a short-sleeve button-up, a tee, or even a bro tank. It’s expected that you’ll be sweating under the sun, even if you’re not dancing and moving around.

Few things are worse than a soaked-through shirt once the evening rolls around. Get ready for an uncomfortably damp feeling accompanied by chills.

Secondly, think about dirt. Or, more specifically, wearing something you won’t mind getting a little bit dirty. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or camping out somewhere, you’ll finish off the night wondering why all your skin, hair, and clothing has a dusty film on it.

As such, avoid that linen or silk shirt, no matter how ultra-light it feels. A festival is the sure spot to ruin anything remotely high-end.

Third, neutral’s the most versatile path – for instance, solid-color tees or a small, neat-print shirt – unless you plan to go in the opposite direction. If that’s your approach, think about those all-over, Hawaiian-style prints, neon rave-inspired hues, or metallic, sequin-covered pieces. 

Our Top Music Festival Shirt Picks

Best Form-Fitting:
Tani USA Men's SilkCut Crew Neck

Not only is this likely the softest and most comfortable t-shirt you'll ever own but the material wicks away sweat and the high-quality means it retains its shape and form-fitting quality no matter what you put it through.


Best Relaxed Fit:
James Perse Mens T-Shirt

If you're looking for a more relaxed fitting t-shirt that's still flattering, James Perse is our top pick. His shirts also come in a variety of colors and simple patterns that will disguise dirt but aren't your standard blacks and navys.


Best Hawaiian Shirt:
The Kooples Short Sleeve Button-Down Shirt

Hawaiian shirts are back with a vengeance.  If you want to go beyond the stand t-shirt and wear something that expresses a bit more flair and personality, give it a try.  The pattern (perfect for hiding dirt) plus layering  make them a perfect festival choice.

Festival-friendly Shorts from Scotch & Soda

2. Sweat-Wicking Chinos or Joggers

With pants or shorts, take the same approach as your shirt. As such, chinos or smart joggers are preferable to denim. Color-wise: brown, gray, or navy blue over anything white. And, with plenty of patterned choices out there, why not hint at some old-school rave style?

Along with this these factors, avoid anything skinny. Sweat increases the chafe factor, and even with the lightest cotton, anything soft soon starts to feel like sandpaper, and you’ll be thinking about going home.

Instead, go for something with a bit more space, and as backup, have a stick of Body Glide on hand.

Our Top Music Festival Pants and Shorts Picks

Best Chino Shorts:
Scotch & Soda Men's Classic Chino Short

A basic pair of chino shorts is essential to any guy's summer wardrobe. We love the twill quality stretch cotton, classic styling and the perfect color that with match with everything but never show dirt.


Best Chino Pants:
Ben Sherman Men's Slim Stretch Chino

While you don't want your pants skintight, you also don't them to look like your dad's saggy khakis. Go with a slim-cut chino and a color that's more playful and casual than corporate. 


Best Joggers:
Original Penguin Men's Vintage Gym French Terry Jogger

It's hard to beat a jogger for pure comfort. However you do want to still look somewhat presentable as well. The best way to avoid looking like you rolled into the festival right after the gym is to go with a tapered shape and avoid obviously athletic-wear shapes and fabrics. 

Bucket Hat with Palm Leaves from ASOS

3. Moisture Wicking Bucket Hat 

Around 2012, everyone wanted to have one of those Deadmau5 headpieces, but after a couple of hours, it meant lugging your DIY creation around. Instead, be practical.

No, that doesn’t mean opting for a dad style baseball cap – unless, of course, that’s your thing – but be ready with some kind of hat – at least a six-panel cap with a bill in front. It’s a reliable and unobtrusive solution that’ll keep the sun out of your eyes and reduce the glare.

As a step up, go for a bucket hat, a staple of many rave-wear collections and a style that screams “’90s rave” without being a pair of bondage pants.

This scenario, too, opens up the opportunity for tech features – think moisture-wicking sweatbands, breathable panels, and UV-resistant materials. The result, even when just enhancing a standard cap, reduces sun exposure and fully keeps your head cool.

Our Top Music Festival Hat Picks

Best Classic Bucket Hat:
Kangol Men’s Striped Lahing Classic Bucket Hat

This is an updated version of teh the quintessential bucket hat. The classic boonie-style hat features a flat top and a brim that provides great protection from the sun and elements. The sporting stripe ads classic design appeal.


Best Printed Bucket Hat:
True Religion Men's Metallic-Print Bucket Hat

The 90s nostalgic pattern on this 100% cotton bucket hat elevates it above the run-of-the-mill solids. However it's still subtle enough to match with most outfits and colored not to show the dirt.


Best Cap:
Carhartt Men's Cap

If you're not a fan of the bucket hat revival or just want more head ventilation, a cap might be up your alley. Avoid sports teams and instead go for a workwear classic like Carhartt that features a sweatband fights odors and fast dry technology wicks away sweat for comfort.

Vans Old Skool 2

4. Comfortable Sneakers that Give Support

Weekend-long festivals rarely provide seating – the live tent at Ultra being one of the exceptions. So, be prepared to be standing on your feet all day, if not walking around between the stages or getting jostled by the massive crowds.

Considering this context, comfort is paramount, followed by a design that’s either scuff resistant or that you won’t mind getting a bit dirty.

Boots are out, and sandals pose too much of a risk. Rather, standard sneakers, retro skate sneakers or even a running shoe gets you prepared with enough support and padding. For effortless breathability and a lightweight fit, canvas shoes often do the trick.

In any case, go for darker shades that can handle all that dirt – after all, you’re not just ambling along the sidewalk. Your solid-white kicks, unless you have an after-hours excursion planned, should stay home.

Our Top Shoe and Sneaker Picks

Best Colorful Skate Sneaker:
Osiris Men's Protocol Skateboarding Shoe

A tried and true classic, this skate shoe from Osiris comes in a wide variety of colors, patterns and materials when you want to get away from the standard blacks and grays (though they have that too!)


Best Retro-Inspired Sneaker:
Airwalk Mens Throttle Skate Shoes Lace up

Crafted with thick cushioned around the ankle and tongue this sneaker delivers a classic look updated with perforated panels and signature Airwalk branding to complete the look. A great mix of comfort and style.


Best Classic Sneaker:
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Core Ox

The Converse All Star is a good bet for almost any occasion.  While it's less padded than more contemporary sneakers, it's still comfortable and classic style that matches with everything. Plus budget friendly! Just avoid bringing your white sneakers as you'll never get them clean again.

5. Waterproof Shell for Unexpected Rain

Prepare for any rain by having a water-resistant or waterproof shell ready in your bag. Packable and light, they weigh next to nothing, and barely take up any space. But, once the storm arrives – and you still plan to stay at the festival grounds – it proves to be one of the most important items in your pack.

Our Top Rain Shell Picks

Best All-Weather Rain Jacket:
The North Face Men's Resolve 2 Jacket

Designed for use on the trail, this jacket is rugged and waterproof and comes in a wide range of colors from classic yellow to more subude navy and black. It's a bit bigger to pack but if there's a good chance of rain, worth the extra bulk.


Best Lightweight Rain Shell:
Patagonia Men's Houdini Jacket

If you need a rain shell that is small and very packable but will also hold-up to light to medium rain storms, this is a good mix featherweight and weather-resistant that even packs into its own integrated stuff sack.


Emergency Rain Poncho

Let's face it, rain ponchos aren't flattering but they can be extremely useful. Plus they're cheap, large enough to cover your backpack, while also folding up extremely small so you can carry a couple extras for your friends who might not be prepared.


6. Bonus: Everything Else You Will Need

Now that your basics are out of the way, what else should you bring along?

Hydration

Consider that water costs at least five times what it would at a convenience store, involves taking a strategic approach. Some festivals are known to confiscate reusable bottles at the gate, so check ahead of time to make sure you can actually take that Hydro Flask or Nalgene in with you.


Small Backpack, Crossbody or Fanny Bag

Use a small bag for your ticket, wallet, keys, sunscreen, and a rain shell. Over the past couple of years, fanny packs and crossbody bags seem to be the go-to solution. But, any smaller-size backpack, really, is good enough.


Hydration Pack: Best of Both Worlds

Even when water bottle aren't permitted, a lightweight hydration pack often seems to make the cut. In this instance, for a two-for-one idea, opt for a pack with at least a 1L bladder and some storage space. It won’t be a full backpack, but you’ve got enough room to hold onto your basics.


Feeling overwhelmed packing for your music festival? Not sure what to bring? Mainly remember to pack light, comfortable, clothing that won't show grime and dirt but will still make you feel stylish.

Depending on the climate and weather, moisture-wicking is good but not mandatory. Look through your own closet first, then discover what elements are missing and just buy those pieces. Also for grooming products, check out what the pros bring to music festivals.

Pin for Later:

Men's packing list for everything they need to wear at a music festival.