How can we be sure that summer has, indeed, arrived? The signs look good. The sun is out, the days are long, the flowers are blooming. But to be absolutely certain, there’s really just one question to ask: is Glastonbury around the corner?
Festival fashion has a long and storied history.
The very first festivals were likely quite tunic-based, because they, of course, occurred in ancient Greece. If you’ve got a peplos in your wardrobe, although you might stand out in the Pyramid Stage crowd, it’s not going to be that practical. But looking at the slightly more recent history of festivals for inspiration, there’s really only one choice: denim.
Revellers break through a fence amidst the excitement at Woodstock grounds in August 1969. The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty.
Over half a century ago, when 400,000 people descended on Bethel, New York for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, an event that would define a generation, most of them were wearing jeans and denim jackets. It was the uniform of the counterculture. As William S. Burroughs would later write: “Kerouac opened a million coffee bars and sold a million pairs of Levi’s to both sexes. Woodstock rises from his pages.”
Festival-goers stand about the grounds of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. The Museum at Bethel Woods via Reuters.
This side of the pond, the revellers at the Isle of Wight Festival—actually a precursor to Glastonbury, starting in 1968; and bigger than Woodstock, attracting 700,000 people in 1970—were similarly denim-clad.
Not a huge amount has changed over the years. Different aesthetics, yes. But when looking around for festival fashion inspiration, denim has returned again and again.
The jeans were still there in the 1970s. But instead of bootcut they were skinnier, and now they were being worn with a leather jacket. (Think: any photo of The Ramones you’ve ever seen.) In the ‘80s, things got more colourful, the harsher edge removed, but when Freddie Mercury stole the show at Live Aid in 1985, he was rocking a pair of jeans. The ‘90s grungers made everything oversized, but denim was still there (check out Dave Grohl’s dungarees). And into the 21st century, it remains the go-to for festival-goers. It’s hardly a surprise denim endures when it comes to festival fashion. It’s timeless (see above), comfortable, versatile, and perhaps most importantly, hard-wearing; it’s the ultimate fabric for festival wear.
Above: Jane Fonda at the Isle of Wight festival, 1969, photographed by Anwar Hussein, via Alamy, Below: Sienna Miller in denim cut-offs at Glastonbury Festival, 2010, via Getty Images.
But how to wear your denim in 2022? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, at Milldred we reckon it’s the summer of festival dungarees. Or perhaps that should be the decade of festival dungarees. Because the 2020s have been sorely lacking in festivals so far. But they’re back with a bang this summer, and you’d be a fool not to don your dungarees with your favourite oldest trainers.
They’re the denim option that go with everything, they always look cool, they keep you comfy no matter the weather, and they won’t need to be thrown away when you get back home. Even better, when you’re in dungarees, you’ve got a pocket for everything. That makes them a festival essential. Just ask the queen of Glastonbury Emily Eavis, or as Caitlin Moran has described her, “basically Jacinda Ardern, in dungarees.”
Milldred will be making a festival appearance this summer at the Park Fair in the Cotswolds from the 18th to the 21st August. Come and see us there.
And to guarantee you’ve got the essential festival look this summer, make sure it’s denim, make sure it’s dungarees, and make sure it’s Milldred.