[Courtesy of Derra Howard]

What to Wear and Not Wear This NOLA Festival Season

07:00 March 26, 2024
By: Cynthea Corfah

Festing in Style

Festival outfits can make or break your experience. They affect your confidence, determine your comfortability, and express your personality.

The Big Easy is home to some of the most popular festivals in the nation. Events including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, Hogs for the Cause, and the Freret Street Festival take over the streets and encourage the community to let loose and, as the Cajuns say, laissez le bon temps rouler.

As the city prepares for months of festivals, so should you. Local celebrity stylist Derra Howard and vintage fashion curator Sierra McKay shared style tips and a list of dos and don'ts with Where Y'at to help us all look and feel our best this festival season.

[Courtesy of Derra Howard]

Dress Comfortably

Don't compromise comfort for fashion. Find a way to have a blend of both. Festival days can grow long, hot, and tiresome. When picking an outfit, consider how it will feel hours after the moment you put it on.

Sierra McKay: "My best advice for balancing comfort and style is picking a statement piece for your outfit. The statement piece will set the tone for your outfit. Who said you can't be stylish and comfortable at the same time?"

Express Your Personality with Your Outfit

At local festivals, you'll be surrounded by hundreds to thousands of people. Stand out from the crowd by wearing an outfit that is a reflection of you. Incorporate your favorite colors, patterns, wardrobe pieces, and accessories into your outfit. When you feel good, you look good. When you look good, you're bound to have a good time.

Derra Howard: "Fashion should always be fun for you. Anything you put on should make you feel fabulous."

Keep Festival-Friendly Pieces in Your Wardrobe

When you stay ready, you don't have to get ready. Before festival season, think about which items in your closet are comfortable, practical, stylish, and can be mixed and matched. Don't be afraid to rewear clothing from previous festival outfits. Style your clothes in new ways, add different accessories, and breathe new life into your 2024 festival looks.

DH: "Always have color, crossbody purses, sunglasses, hats, sandals, visors, and sneakers. In this city, you can't go wrong with vibrant colors, floral looks, and hats."

SM: "Some items that should be included in your wardrobe this festival season are crop tops, flared pants and jeans, flowy dresses, rompers, jumpers, and shorts. Accessories such as hats, headbands, bold jewelry, and sunglasses. For shoes, I would suggest comfortable flats or sneakers, but don't forget to have your rainboots and old sneakers nearby in case of a last minute weather change."

Bring Your Essentials

There's nothing worse than going to a festival unprepared. As most Louisianians know, the weather can be as unpredictable as the pothole plagued roads in New Orleans. One minute you're basking in the beating sun, the next you can be drenched by torrential downpour. Make sure to check the festival's website to learn about their bag rules and regulations. Once you know how much you can bring, pack all of your necessities.

Pro tip: bring a rag or towel for sweat, baby wipes for the portable restrooms, and a hat to cover your face from harsh sunshine or rain.

DH: "In my festival bag, I have a poncho, jacket, sneakers, umbrella, and sunscreen."

SM: "My festival bag is packed with sunscreen, chapstick/gloss, battery pack, hand sanitizer, camera, raincoat or umbrella, and cash, just in case it's needed."

Howard's Dos & Don'ts

[Courtesy of Derra Howard]


Choose breathable clothing:

Choose comfortable and breathable clothing to endure long hours of standing and dancing for the festival.

Statement sunnies are a must:

A good pair of sunglasses are essential for any outfit. Make a statement if you wear them all day at the festival.

Pick comfort and stylish footwear:

Choose practical and comfortable footwear for walking and standing. Something like comfortable sneakers, boots, or sandals.

Express your style:

Style with vibrant colors, accessories, hats, face paint, and sunglasses.

Bring a backpack or crossbody purse:

A backpack can carry essentials like sunscreen, poncho, umbrella, water, jacket, snacks, and things you might buy. A crossbody purse can carry your wallet and phone—just enough for the festival.


Wear anything uncomfortable:

Avoid wearing uncomfortable or restrictive outfits that may hinder your movement during the festival.

Wear heavy or bulky items:

Festivals can be crowded and wearing bulky items can be burdensome in crowded spaces.

Wear new kicks:

Stay away from new kicks/sandals or easily damaged shoes for the festival. Go for well-worn and reliable shoes.

Overdo accessories:

Choose a few statement pieces rather than excessive jewelry.

Be a bag lady:

Avoid bringing multiple bags. Having impractical bags can be cumbersome in tight crowds. Bring one bag.

McKay's Dos & Don't

[Courtesy of Sierra McKay]


Bum bags, fanny packs, and crossbody bags.

Something lightweight and flowy, a kimono, oversized shirt, or light sweater.

Cold jewelry, hats, sunglasses, glitter.

Comfortable flats.

Bring a folding chair and/or blanket if you want to find a spot to sit and relax.


Heavy handbags.

Tight or dark clothing.

Heels or new sneakers.

Heavy weight or expensive accessories.

Heavy seating material:
It still needs to be transported.

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