Fashion: Mud, mayhem and Manolos

That's right, the festival season is here again. But what should you pack for a three-day frenzy in a field? Wellies? Sensible. Cagoule? Well, OK. But what about something stylish to make you stand out in the crowd? Amy Jones slides over the options

Time was that, sartorially speaking, music festivals were about chucking together the warmest, lightest and most disposable (read ugly) items in your wardrobe, then rolling around drunk in the mud, safe in the knowledge that you were probably better off without them in the first place. If the sun did deign to show its elusive face, there was nothing for it but to, well, just get your kit off, not to put too fine a point on it. This, of course, happened to memorable effect at Woodstock.

More recently, however, these occasions have become rather more fashion- conscious. Only last year, Glastonbury, formerly attended by crusties and hippies, merited a visit by British Vogue. The end result - big-name models Kirsty Hume and Trish Goff photographed mingling with lesser mortals in the sort of designer labels your average fashion victim would kill for - marked a turning point, and then some. This was, after all, unlike the requisite souk in Morocco or Kenyan safari high-summer location, a rather less obviously glamorous backdrop.

In such auspicious fashion circumstances, the last thing a girl needs is to be caught at a music festival looking drab. So you've packed your toothbrush, knickers, anorak and wellies - but what else?

Happily, this season's main trends are not as uptight as they have been in the past. Neatly enough, the super-fashionable likes of Tom Ford, Marni, Pucci and Anna Sui have taken their inspiration from the great festival tradition in the first place: think Woodstock again - at designer prices, naturally.

As well as being the height of modish good taste, however, your wardrobe will have to be tough enough to survive impulsive fence climbing at Glastonbury or stage diving at Reading: a John Galliano bias-cut gown or pair of spindly Manolo Blahnik stilettos are only going to work if you happen to be Courtney Love. "Every festival is a different adventure, so each needs its own customised wardrobe," says Tony Wright, vocalist with Terrorvision. Not just any old spring/summer look in a muddy field will do.

Keeping cool and/or warm being important considerations, the most obvious and simple choice for comfort and chic is layering. What's more, wearing a skirt over trousers is perfect for creating that feminine feel but won't compromise a girl hell-bent on clambering over barriers to get backstage. Something which can be thrown on straight out of the bag, regardless of the fact that it's been screwed up in there for hours, is always advisable. Breathable, natural fabrics are a must. The last thing you should be concerned with is how you smell, particularly should you find yourself in a compromising position with a relative stranger. Go for cotton or high-tech performance fabrics for ultimate carefree comfort.

Cagoules, previously frowned upon for their trainspotter connotations, are currently sought after for their streetwise appeal - blame Oasis if you will. Not only are they light, easy to carry and windproof, they are also highly advantageous in the (highly likely event) of spillage.

As far as colour is concerned, aim to stand out from the crowd. Fabulous fuchsias, electric blues and sultry reds mixed with more neutral black and khaki are the way forward. (They're also the colours of the season, fortunately enough.) Wright agrees: "When you're on stage, it's great to see a kaleidoscope of colours in the audience, and not just a sea of black." That's your average po-faced fashionista told.

However gorgeous your look, it still has to be able to withstand gallons of mud in the end. There are two ways to resolve any looming festival footwear crisis. For an optimistic outlook which caters for warmer weather, give those toes an airing in sandals. Jack Bessant, bassist with Reef, says that if it's hot, he'll be wearing flip-flops and a cricket hat - you can't say fairer than that.

Meanwhile, hardened festival-goer Andy Gordon, 24, went to Glastonbury last year and said that sales of the humble wellington boot were booming. In a Blue Peter moment, he concocted his very own foot warming formulation. "Your feet get really cold when they're immersed in water all day and it can put a bit of a dampener on things. So we got plastic shopping bags and wrapped them around our feet and then put on our wellies, so that when the mud seeped into the boots it was nice and warm as my feet were kept dry by the bags."

More adventurous - not to mention less messy - is a DIY fashion tip from Tony Wright. "For festival survival, you need wellies and a pair of scissors. In case of good weather, you can cut the toes off and chop down the boots. If you're very creative, you could even take the heels off for a natty slingback effect." Jackie O would have been proud. But for a ready-to- wear, cute and highly durable solution to a water-logged festival, there are the flame rubber Birkenstocks (pictured above).

Having dealt with your toes, turn your attention to your hairdo. After the first day of fun and frolics, this will undoubtedly be in grave need of attention, and a cold stand-pipe is not an attractive proposition for a hair- wash. Craig Mason, hair stylist for Toni & Guy, prescribes the trusted pony tail. More of the moment, John Lewis, Selfridges and other leading department stores, now offer what can only be described as a single bra strap for the head. Masterminded by New York haircare specialists Bumble & Bumble at this season's shows, they're a far less Sloaney equivalent to the Alice Band - rarely seen at music festivals, it has to be said. A bright head scarf, similarly, hides any number of sins.

Finally, where make-up is concerned, the nude, rosy-cheeked good looks that ruled the runways are the only way forward, which means that no make- up at all is more than happily acceptable.

In the end, festivals - whatever it is that you decide to wear -, are a much-needed opportunity to turn off the life support machine, get off the couch and get a life. According to Emma B of Radio 1, they are "a gathering thing. So many people in the same place for the same reason is exciting. At festivals there are no closing times, no sound restrictions - and campfires. It's just one big pyjama party."

But, of course, not just any old pyjamas will do.

Rosalind wears jacket, pounds 49, by Jigsaw, (0171-491 4484); work dress, pounds 50, by Warehouse (0171-278 3491); flip-flops, from pounds 60, by Camper (0171- 584 5439)

Annabel wears dress, pounds 89.95, Karen Millen, as before; jacket, from a selection at River Island, as before; clogs, pounds 32.95, by Birkenstock (0800 132194)

Photographer: Anna Stevenson; Stylist: Holly Wood; Make-up: Firyal Arneil using Clinique; Hair: Craig Mason for Mascolo PR using TiGi haircare; Models: Annabell Rumble, Rosalind, Toni and Carmel, all at Select. Shot at James English, 0171-256 1067

Toni wears skirt, pounds 40, by French Connection (0171-399 7200); vest, pounds 49.95, by Karen Millen (01622 664032); cagoule, pounds 215, by YMC (0171-613 5293)

Carmel wears T-shirt, pounds 35, French Connection; as before; skirt, pounds 79, Joseph (0171-590 6200); trousers, pounds 34.99, River Island, 0181-991 4759

FESTIVAL HIT LIST

Homelands: 29-30 May

The Bowl, Matterley Estate, Nr Winchester

Tickets: pounds 44

Bookings: 0171-344 0044 Enquiries: 0181-963 0940 Web site: www.homelands.uk.com

Featuring: Underworld, Chemical Brothers, Jungle Brothers, Faithless, Asian Dub Foundation, Monkey Mafia

DJs: DJ Shadow, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Judge Jules

Glastonbury: 25-27 June

Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset

Tickets: pounds 85

Bookings: 0115 912 9129, Enquiries: 09067 080808 (calls cost 50p per minute)

Web site: www.glastonburyfest.co.uk.

Featuring: REM, Orbital, Mogwai, The Beautiful South, Cast, Cardigans, Roni Size, Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Super Furry Animals, Hole

T in the park: 10-11 July

Balado, Near Kinross, Scotland

Tickets: pounds 58/pounds 32.50 per day

Bookings: 0141 339 8383

Enquiries: 07000 113114

Web site: www.tinthepark.com

Featuring: Fun Lovin' Criminals, Blur, Massive Attack, Eagle-Eye Cherry, The Manic Street Preachers, Gomez, Mercury Rev

Save Our World Festival: 20 June (noon til 9pm) Brockwell Park, Lambeth, London

Tickets: It's free!

Getting there: nearest tube, Brixton; nearest train, Herne Hill, Bus No.3

Enquiries: Jim Scott, 0171-640 0492

Featuring: Three main stages, including jazz stage, plus films, children's play, organic horticulture, craft stalls

Leeds 99 and Reading 99: 27-30 August

Temple Newsam, Leeds and Richfield Avenue, Reading

Tickets: pounds 78

Bookings: 0541 500044

Enquiries: 0181-963 0940

Featuring: Terrorvision, Reef, Charlatans, Echo and The Bunnymen, Blur, Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Divine Comedy, Pavement, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Offspring

V99: 21-22 August

Weston Park, South Staffordshire/ Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex

Tickets: pounds 70 (pounds 60 without camping)

Bookings: for Weston Park, 0115 912 9199; for Chelmsford, 0171-287 0932

Featuring: Shed 7, Massive Attack, The Beautiful South, Gomez, Happy Mondays, Suede, The Levellers, The Cardigans, Cast

Eclipse: 9-13 August

Witness the final solar eclipse of the Millennium at Carlyon Bay, Nr St Austell, Cornwall

Tickets: pounds 150

Bookings: 01726 814004

Enquiries: 0161 953 4107 and 07931 912428

Web site:

www.nighttime-concerts.com

Featuring: Paul Oakenfold, Judge Jules, Danny Rampling, Seb Fontaine, Tall Pall, Brandon Block, Sasha P, Graeme Park, Jon of the Pleased Wimmin', Billy Nasty

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