The fashion at summer festivals can almost be as entertaining as the music itself. At Lollapalooza, which kicked off Thursday in Grant Park, many of the early looks were straight from the playbook of Coachella this past April — including plenty of swimsuits as daywear (not the worst choice with temperatures nearing the mid-80s) as well as boho fringe and mesh accessories that looked on trend and provided airflow, and colorful neon hair and apparel, a brilliant commodity if you’re trying to be found in the crowd.
One thing notably missing: bags. With organizers warning of long lines at the entrance due to detailed bag checks, many opted to leave them at home, freeing their hands and arms to groove to day one headliners Arctic Monkeys and Travis Scott. Here are some of our fan favorite looks.
One thing you can’t escape at Lollapalooza: glitter. Just give a high-five to passersby and your hands are coated. Olivia, Summer and Paisley, ranging in ages from 18 to 19, were works of sparkling art, literally from head to toe. “It’s pretty and makes everything fun,” said Summer, not quite sure how she might even begin to scrub it off. “We’re just going to keep re-layering it every day.”
For the most fashion-forward looks, the very crowded Perry’s Stage doubles as a catwalk with rave-inspired ensembles that fit with the day’s EDM acts. Michelle, who came in from Seattle, was one of the standouts; the 19-year-old glued charms to her face and wore wing hair clips and purple contacts to match her vinyl pastel outfit. “It’s not very different from my day-to-day wardrobe,” she said, laughing. “I was walking around the streets of Chicago and saw that everyone is dressed very muted. What you wear is a way to express yourself — I’m happy and cheerful. At festivals it helps people come and talk to me and I like making new friends. It’s like an icebreaker.”
Surprisingly, not too many people had tattoos on display. Jess, 19, from Chicago, showed off all six of hers with cropped denim shorts and bikini top. “I planned it that way,” she said, noting Lollapalooza is not only her first fest but also her first concert ever. “It’s been awesome so far. I can’t wait to see Billie Eilish, Galantis and Travis Scott.”
Another big fashion staple was basketball jerseys; you couldn’t turn one way without spotting a new team logo (though few were donning the Chicago Bulls). Casper and Sebastian, both 15 and from Chicago, said they chose to wear theirs because “they’re breathable and they look cool. Everyone has a different team and represents what you like.”
When you go to Lollapalooza, you expect to find some crazy costumes. There was a rumor that “aliens” were running around the park, but a marsupial was probably the most surprising. “I’m really, really hot,” said Ashley, noticeably sweating, who had been trading turns with her cohort Connie (both from Omaha, Nebraska) in wearing the furry costume, as part of a promo plan for the band the Wombats, who played on Thursday. “This is our 13th time seeing them and our seventh city,” Connie said, adding they had no regrets about their fashion choice.
Early in the day, plenty of parents were spotted with their young kids, and many of them were keen on coordinating looks. For Brian and Michael, that meant local pride. Both were wearing White Sox hats (even though they’re from the North Side) while dad Brian had on Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” T-shirt. “I wanted to represent Chicago,” he said.
At the Kidzapalooza tent, mom Chloe and son Truman (from the Old Irving area) had matching mohawks. While Truman had his done in the Punk Hairdos tent, Chloe did hers at home. Daughter Charlotte was also in tow, admitting she’s been coming to Lollapalooza for nine years — “since I was 2.”
Little Lucien also was sporting a mohawk he had done in the Punk Hairdos tent along with some body art from the Tatooz area. “We do this every year,” said dad Ken. The two stations are some of the most popular in the Kidzapalooza area.
Compared to the crowds at other festivals and concerts, Lollapalooza fans weren’t as into the idea of making a political statement. But there were a few, namely Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd of the Bay Area kids band the Alphabet Rockers, whose whole mission is to “give kids a framework to talk about social justice,” said Kaitlin.
The band wrote a song called “Walls” that was nominated for a Grammy. Of his anti-Trump shirt, Tommy said, “I wear my heart on my sleeve, but sometimes the message is too big for my sleeve.”
“I’m trying to be comfortable but at the same time fashionable,” added Gianna, sporting bandanas on her forehead and wrists for a classic festival look that also had a purpose for absorbing perspiration in the heat.