The Intersection of Fashion and Music Festivals: From Woodstock to Coachella

Since their conception, fashion and music festivals have been inextricably linked together to become a major part of popular culture. By connecting together style and music, fashion and music festivals have created a unique experience to shape and influence popular style. From 1969’s Woodstock Festival to the modern-day phenomenon that is Coachella, let’s explore how fashion has changed in the festival atmosphere from the 1960s to present day.

What Is Woodstock? 

Woodstock was a historically significant music festival and counterculture event that took place in August 1969 near the town of Bethel in New York State. For two days, the festival was the home of iconic musicians such as the Grateful Dead, the Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. It attracted an estimated 500,000-700,000 people and was largely responsible for introducing several styles to the mainstream fashion world.

Woodstock Fashion in the 1960s 

At the time, the fashion at Woodstock was an amalgamation of hippie-style elements that had been popularized in the ’60s, combined with the traditional ‘mod’ look of the ’50s. Styles that were seen at the festival included:

  • Bell-bottom pants and wide denim jeans
  • Flower-embellished blouses with ruffles and lace
  • Long, peasant style dresses and skirts with wide necklines
  • Long, brightly-colored hooded shawls and ponchos
  • Crocheted vests and sweaters
    -Wide-brimmed hats, berets, and headbands
  • Platforms, sandals, and Flip-flops

Woodstock was an early pioneer in setting fashion trends. By introducing these styles to the wider public, the festival established itself as a landmark moment in popular fashion and helped to bridge the gap between rural craftsmanship and mass-market fashion.

The Influence of Glam Rock at Music Festivals

Following the success of Woodstock, there was a surge in the number of music festivals. With the emergence of glam rock in the mid-1970s and the definitive trend of ‘glitter rock’ came a wave of glittery, shimmering fashion. Festival-goers of this time period wore:

  • Sequined backless t-shirts, tanks and jumpsuits
  • Skin-tight lamé trousers
  • Platform shoes and boots with studs and metallic decorations
  • Fur coats and metallic jackets
  • T-shirts and bell-bottom jeans accessorized with frills and flares
  • Bold, printed and colorful sunglasses

The Influence of Punk and New Wave: Style Redefined

The punk rock explosion in the late 1970s and early 1980s lead to a dramatic change in festival style. The punk aesthetic epitomized rebellion and individualism by its DIY components, studs and chains. It became popular among festival-goers who adopted the look of:

  • Studded leather and plastic jackets
  • Safety pins
  • Spiked hair
  • Chain wallets and choker necklaces
  • Square-heeled shoes
  • Cut-off-jeans, jumpsuits, and cobweb tank tops

Along with punk, the 1980s brought the beginnings of the new wave era, adding a more eclectic flavor to festival fashion. Trends such as flashy neon and electric prints, animal prints, and deconstructed popular pieces (“destroyed” jeans and ripped sweaters) began to make an appearance.

Fashion in the Current Festival Scene

In today’s festival scene, the fashion choices have become much more varied and expansive. Whereas in the past, there were specific trends that could easily be identified as distinct festival looks, the current festival fashion space has many different aspects.


The ‘hippie’ look has been resurrected as a popular festival trend. Crocheted vests, wide-brimmed hats, bell-bottom jeans, and peasant dresses are all popular wardrobe staples. Layers of clothing and accessories, like fringes and flowers, are key components of the bohemian look.


The athleisure trend, an amalgamation of athletic and leisure clothing, has popularized track pants, athleisure outfits, and sneakers as festival attire. This look has been popularized by celebrities such as Rihanna and Zendaya, and can be seen on festival-goers all over the world.


Gothic and grunge continue to be represented throughout the festival world by leather jackets and boots, platform shoes, and punk-inspired pins and chains.


Streetwear encompasses skate and rap styles that are heavily influenced by basketball and hip-hop culture. This style injects a “cool” vibe to festival outfits and is characterized by bright colors, oversized t-shirts, and denim jackets.

Coachella and the Hypebeast Look

Coachella, an annual music and arts festival held in California, has become a global trend-setter in the festival fashion world. The festival has also become a major springboard to launch fashion trends.

These trends—which have been popularly referred to as ‘Hypebeast’ or ‘Yeezy’ look— include sequin, bodycon, crop tops, and luxe streetwear such as oversized hoodies and sweatpants. Celebrities like the Kardashians who attend the festival often influence the ‘Coachella’ look. Many designers and brands from across the fashion world, such as Gucci and Dior, have taken to drawing inspiration from both their own couture pieces as well their own ready-to-wear lines.

From Woodstock to Coachella and every festival in between, the evolution has been immense. Festival fashion has many different aspects and is constantly changing based on the influence of trends, cultures and emerging technologies. The evolution of festival fashion is an important story in the history of fashion, as these events have had far-reaching implications on popular culture.