What came first, the flower crown, or Coachella? Everyone’s favorite music festival and fashion show hybrid kicks off tomorrow, and if you want to play a fun game, take a drink for every person you spot in a flower crown or equally-ostentatious headgear.
I have been to one music festival total in my life, and it was Bonnaroo in 2004, before Bonnaroo and the idea of festival wear became cool. That being said, wearing anything other than a t-shirt and denim shorts to see bands outside in peak heat and humidity was a lost concept on me. In preparation for Southern California’s biggest music event second to the Grammys, my hilarious boss Ruthie presented an idea to me. What if I dressed up like I was going to Coachella for a week, but didn’t actually go? Before she could even finish the phrase “Flash tat,” I was down. I will take any excuse to dress up and make a fool of myself—Halloween is actually one of my favorite holidays. You see so many stories about what to wear to the big event, despite that the outfits are far from practical, not to mention, festival trends that should die. I was planning to wear them all, with the exception of anything walking the line of being culturally insensitive, because appropriation gets on my nerves. It’s 2017, you guys! Do better!
Doing this assignment was so much fun. Although I probably wouldn’t wear a lot of these combinations in real life, it made me realize how boring my current wardrobe had become—New York winters tend to do that to you. My coworkers also saw a very different side to me that very few have seen, because let’s be real, a lot of festival wear is basically lingerie.
Come with me, dear reader, on a journey not to the Coachella desert, but to the InStyle offices where I pranced around in festival wear for an entire work week.
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Day one doing anything is so intimidating, right? On the first day of my freshman year of high school, I was convinced all the super-cool seniors would hate on my Limited Too getup and shove me in a locker as every teen movie led me to believe, but I digress.
To kick things off, I chose a Forever 21 bodysuit that was decked out in a floral print, boasting massive sleeves, and a neckline that went all the way down to my bellybutton. I’m not even kidding. As I put on the outfit, I panicked slightly—there was no way I could wear this without having to go braless. It was a move that was typically reserved for weekend coffee runs, when I’d don a t-shirt and refused to wear real pants, or when I was lounging around on a Netflix binge at home, but this outfit meant that I would have to bring that level of comfort into the workplace.
I got a few weird looks, but the outfit wasn’t so crazy that it looked completely out of place. I mean, yes, the shorts were insanely short and showed a ton of thigh, but I kind of looked like I was doing a Penny Lane Almost Famous impression, if Penny Lane wore Forever 21, anyway. My friend Jonathan, who is very sweet, didn’t completely know what I was doing and was like “You look so dressed up!” when he saw me in the hallway, but laughed and took a pic for Instagram stories once I explained everything to him. That being said, rompers are tricky when you have to pee really badly and end up having to completely undress in a bathroom stall. I imagine this would be a much harder task when using the port-a-potties situated around the Coachella grounds, not to mention, even dancing to the music in front of you, thanks to the low neckline.
If you’re gonna do it, then do it, right? And and by “it,” I mean the most ridiculous and revealing dress you can find.
The H&M x Coachella bodysuit-lace dress combo ($18; hm.com) showed an overwhelming amount of my ass, so I threw an Xhilaration printed kimono ($23; target.com) over the top, you know, for the sake of modesty. I felt a little like Lana Del Rey wearing a white flower crown, but also pretty exposed. I don’t have a thigh gap, in case you didn’t notice. Most people probably don’t.
This was the day I became aware that I had haters. Like Kylie Jenner, I was realizing things. Although the InStyle team was fully aware of my goal and complimented me on the insane style choices I made, one lady from another company in the building shot me the dirtiest look in the world during my coffee run. That 15-minute span of getting coffee attracted a ton of attention on its own, though, and prompted one man to be all like “god bless you” when I hadn’t even sneezed.
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Another day, another braless crop-top with a weirdly situated keyhole. This top was the most complicated for me since it was a little big, so I had to be conscious of my movements, though the lace pants were pretty similar to comfy pajama bottoms, despite the fact that I felt a little like Natalie Imbruglia’s lyrics in “Torn.” You know—cold, shamed, naked. Beige-toned undergarments are of the essence here, friends.
All-white outfits kind of freak me out. Of course on the day I wear white, I’m going to want coffee and any brightly colored-food I could easily drop on myself, transforming my outfit into a modern art piece, and I kept freaking out that I was just going to get my period even though I wasn’t supposed to for a few more weeks. Bright accessories provided appropriate pops of color, and even though you can’t really tell in the picture, I loved how the longer string necklace had a ton of smiley face beads my younger self would have created a charm bracelet out of back in 1997.
If Free People is not included in a Coachella fashion story, is it really a Coachella fashion story to begin with? If you don’t Instagram your slice of avocado toast, did it really happen?
Despite the knitted, crop top-esque middriff area in this gigantic Free People tunic, this was actually the most covered I had been in days, and personally, I was just thrilled that I could wear normal undergarments. There was a ton of fringe hanging off of this dress, so I spent a lot of time spinning around in the hallway like a cult leader as Mary from our photo department took Boomerang shot after Boomerang shot. I threw on a million necklaces, and the Rag & Bone flatforms kept the fringe a safe distance from the ground so I wouldn’t trip over it and injure myself. The flower crown made for a lot of fun stares during our weekly pitch meeting, but again, everyone on the InStyle end of the floor already knew what was up. I was actually kind of into the all-black flower crown, but the headpiece kind of made it hard for everyone else in the room to listen to any of the pitches I was spouting out. I don’t blame them. It’s hard for me to take myself seriously even when I’m not dressed up to see Lady Gaga perform in a desert.
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Last day of the dress-up game, and it was the warmest of them all, so I took my Forever 21 jumpsuit, Boohoo cutoff shorts, and fringe til Tuesday out for a post-event iced coffee. Because the bodysuit was completely see-through, I couldn’t wear a bra with it—surprise, surprise—so I had to slap on a pair of pasties in hopes you couldn’t see my entire boob through the outfit. For extra insurance, I threw a color-coordinating scarf with the appropriate amount of beading and fringe on so I could strategically place it over my chest area and not worry too much about sudden movements. My hair was really dirty, so a Eugenia Kim straw hat won out over a flower crown to help hide my dry shampoo-coated roots.
Something happens during New York in the spring, and the city takes on this entirely different attitude. People are generally nicer, you don’t have trouble finding a cab, and men feel the need to make even more unsolicited comments toward you with the reasoning that you aren’t hiding under a parka a la Randy in A Christmas Story anymore. Like it even matters. “You should smile more!” one guy in a suit shouted at me as Kyleen shot my picture. “You shouldn’t tell women to smile!” I shouted back, because do not ever tell women to smile. An entire work week of wearing the most ridiculous outfits had infused somewhat of a DGAF attitude in me, which I hope stays with me in some capacity once I switch back to my regular wardrobe. I’ve become such a New York stereotype that wears all black and gets mad at people who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to whip out their selfie sticks, so the 5 days in festival wear were a nice break from reality. As it turns out, I have a brand-new appreciation for fringe, oversized sunglasses, and dare I say, cowboy boots. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be a little more young, wild, and free with my wardrobe choices this spring, after all, I am weirdly comfortable now sans-bra—but you know, flower crowns are where I draw the line.
This article originally appeared in InStyle.