If you don your leather moto jacket well into summer before waving your sweat-soaked white flag in armistice against the sun, this is the rock ‘n’ roll shopping guide for you. As a rock writer, my backstage camouflage and uniform of choice is mostly skin-tight, black Levi’s denim, ankle boots with intricate details (my most worn-in kickers are suede and blue faux crocodile), and my Electric Lady Studios satin bomber jacket layered over a fitted black bodysuit.
But in a world of scorching hot music festivals (I’m looking at you, Lollapalooza) and teeny-tiny, sweaty venues, compromises must be made. I’m not telling you to trade in your tattered band tee for a bright yellow ruffled romper, but there’s a path toward a cooler-than-being-cool wardrobe that doesn’t include heat exhaustion.
Here are 17 rock ‘n’ roll-inspired pieces to keep you cool in the summer heat.
1Mercury Rising Romper
Introducing all the convenience of a one-piece romper sans the frill and flowers. This Freddie Mercury-inspired denim jumpsuit will make you feel like a queen (see what I did there?).
2Modern Vice Disco Bolt Boots
You might think it’s too damn hot for boots, but I said compromise people, compromise. These are not just ankle adornments, but handmade, David Bowie-inspired, star and bolt-decorated electric boots. They have been scientifically proven to make you look and feel 100% cooler regardless of the heat index.
3Sheer Lace & Mesh Bodysuit
Lace bodysuits are the ultimate summer scam. On days when it’s nearly too hot for any clothes at all, they’re basically a free pass to go out in your underwear. Plus, there’s something very ’80s rock video vixen about a fitted lace bodysuit met with damaged denim.
4Ribbed Jersey Dress
A casual little black dress is the easiest and most efficient answer to the question, “What should I wear to the show tonight?” This quick to throw on, ribbed little black jersey number goes well with any denim or leather jacket — making it easy to transition from day to very late night.
5Levis 501 Mid-Rise Shorts
Levis are the standard in guitar solo-worthy denim. Why? They wear well, fade out perfectly, and last a lifetime. I’m a steadfast believer in the fact that Levi’s are meant to be rocked all year long, and these button-up cutoffs are a perfect complement to their longer counterparts.
6Tom Petty Boyfriend Tee
Yes, you should buy your band tee at the merch stand, in a thrift shop, or have it passed down to you from your music-loving ancestors. However, there’s nothing wrong with going to a shop and picking up a brand new, vintage-style band tee. Just make sure to have your notes ready when someone sparks up a conversation about the band’s B-sides.
7Kioko Cat Jacket
When the sun goes down and the stage goes up, you’re going to need a lightweight jacket. It’s important to have one that stands out, like this black denim jacket with a scribbled black cat on the back. It has zippers in the front and studded ornamented sleeves, making it the perfect replacement for a heavier leather moto jacket.
8Feelin’ Good Bodysuit
My clothing racks are a sea of black punctuated by the rare sighting of leopard print, sequins, and, of course, firefighter red. I’ve already spoken of the benefits of a bodysuit in the summertime, and this “Feelin’ Good” embroidered flattering V-neck halter deserves more than a few moments in the sun.
9Hanna Crop Tee
What goes well with a pair of damaged cut-off jeans, a fitted mini skirt, and a backstage pass? An easy, breezy, white crop top. Bonus? You can wear it with high-waisted jeans in the spring and fall, and under a heavy jacket in the winter. It’s the perfect accomplice in your year-long quest for cool.
10High School Lover Gym Short
I can preach all day on the virtues of satin dolphin shorts for summer. Want to play hooky? Wear these shorts. Want to ditch gym? Wear these shorts. Want to go see The Killers and make out behind the bleachers? Wear these shorts.
11Faux Leather Mini Skirt
A wise frontman named Alex Turner once said, “That’s not a skirt, girl, that’s a sawn-off shotgun, and I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me.” I’m not saying he’s talking about this specific skirt, but it’s safe to assume he was talking about a black leather one.
12Brazilian Thong Bikini Bottom
These high-waisted, thong-cut swim bottoms bring new meaning to “suns out, buns out.” It’s simple black, cut-out flare, but with benefits of a high-waist fit. Perfect for a post-gig dip in the hotel pool.
13Strappy Leopard Dress
Strappy dresses are made for summer because you can just throw them on and feel like you tried, especially if it’s leopard print like this one. Wear it under a denim jacket to make it more casual, or with gold, sparkly ankle boots (see above) to make it anything but.
14Wrangler Acid Wash Denim Jacket
The ultimate answer to layering while staying cool in the summer is moving from your winter and fall fabrics to the Americana mainstay of a denim jacket. This Wrangler jacket hasn’t changed much since it first came out in the ’20s, making it as timeless as all your favorite songs.
15Beatles Lonnie Embellished Bomber
Sequins are the answers to half the questions in the world. The other half of answers are The Beatles. Based on that equation, this sequin bomber jacket with “Come Together” hand-embellished on the back is the answer to everything and the only extra layer you need this summer.
If you stocked your summer wardrobe with multiple vintage ’70s pieces, you may be wondering which shoes to wear when you don’t feel like donning electric boots. These cedar clogs are the perfect option because they come in multiple colors. I can personally attest that they are so comfy you can stay standing in them from first song through second encore.
17New Perfect Fit T-Shirt
Nothing beats a simple black and white striped tee. Versatile enough to wear with any type of bottoms, whether it’s a mini skirt or jeans.