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Are Coachella Outfits Becoming More … Normal?

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Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Danya Issawi

This year, Vanessa Hudgens — the North Star and guiding light of festival fashion, the patron saint of face gems and flower crowns, the matriarch of Coachella — was notably absent from the festivities. (Understandably so, she’s pregnant with her first child.) Still, the loss created a seismic shift in the aesthetics of Coachella and left one, massive glaring question for festivalgoers to answer on their own: But what will we wear?

In the past, Coachella has been a breeding ground for a very distinct visual code, one made up of hippie headbands, fringe galore, boho-chic skirts, frayed denim, crocheted and metallic bralettes in place of shirts, and a plethora of cultural appropriation. This year, as I wandered the grounds in Indio, California, a different, but adjacent, aesthetic was omnipresent — one that hinged on comfort as a form of style, clothes that, for the most part, were re-wearable and that I’d seen recently on passersby while sitting at my local park in New York, littered with a few statement looks here and there. The most notable departure from traditional Coachella dressing was that these outfits did not anoint themselves with flower crowns, although I did see one in the crowd. (Thank God somebody is preserving history.) Below are the biggest trends I saw through the fields at Coachella.

Attending a three-day-long festival, where sets might be a several-minute walk from one another and you’ll be standing for most of the ten-plus hours you’ll be there, means you need comfortable shoes. It was no surprise that a sizable chunk of attendees wore Adidas Sambas or Gazelles (I recently learned both of these silhouettes are called T-toe shoes). It seems everyone who’s anyone in New York and Los Angeles already has these in their closet and wears them to get around the city. I saw a few pairs decked out in charms, pearls, and pins, which I thought added a lovely personal touch and inspired me to do the same.

Photo: Danya Issawi

It’s the Wild West out here, baby, and that calls for boots to match. It was nearly impossible to count how many pairs of cowboy boots and motorcycle boots crossed my path this past weekend. These boots, which again, I’ve seen get ample wear in everyday life in New York, made sense for a festival where your shoes are destined to get dusty and even muddy. If I hadn’t opted for Sambas most of the weekend, either of these would’ve been my second choice.

Photo: Danya Issawi

Come to think of it, maybe everyone was cosplaying as cowboys this weekend considering these two fabrics were their first choices too. From leather skirts to denim corsets, these two textiles were the gift that kept on giving, particularly the denim given its breathable(ish) quality that could keep you cool enough during the day and warm at night after the temperature drops.

From left: Photo: Danya IssawiPhoto: Danya Issawi

From top: Photo: Danya IssawiPhoto: Danya Issawi

Coachella is not a place for in-betweens, and that goes for hemlines too. We’re in the early stages of a boho-chic revival and that felt especially true in the number of long flow-y skirts and micro-mini shorts and skirts. It shows that nearly 20 years later, Kate Moss’s iconic outfits at Glastonbury are still the blueprint.

From left: Photo: Danya IssawiPhoto: Danya Issawi

From top: Photo: Danya IssawiPhoto: Danya Issawi

In true Coachella tradition, nary a savvy festivalgoer would dare come to the grounds without some sort of face covering. The wind often picks up the dust and sand in the surrounding desert, and it certainly helps to have something to shield your nose and mouth when it does. Bonus points if your fabric of choice can help keep you warm at night. Throughout the weekend, I saw people styling their scarves, bandannas and Palestinian kaffiyehs by tying them loosely around their necks, draping them over their shoulders, or casually wrapping them around their heads.

From left: Photo: Danya IssawiPhoto: Danya Issawi

From top: Photo: Danya IssawiPhoto: Danya Issawi

Photo: Danya Issawi

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