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Concert core

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My first experience with occasion-specific concert wear was Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour. Swift gushed about how amazed she was by everyone’s dedication to dressing the part. She even noted how one member was dressed as “line three of track eight on album four.” Of course, since this line from her album Red says “We hadn’t seen each other in a month,” everyone in the crowd knew it wasn’t about this specific lyric. It was bigger than that. At that moment, everyone in the crowd knew that dressing up for her concert was important to Swift, and in return it would forevermore be important to us. What I didn’t know at that moment was how the realm of concert-going would change fashion and vice versa.

Of course, concert-centered fashion isn’t new. One notable example of a fashion-centered concert was Woodstock in 1969. Fashion has an important place in history, particularly surrounding freedom of expression and speech, and Woodstock was one of the first places where that freedom was embraced and even celebrated. Clothing choices for the event became important. It wasn’t just about feeling the weight of uniformity lift. It was a statement, a rebellion, an act of self-expression so bold it was fearsome.

So how did that rebellious act transform over the years into an act of outright joy? When artists started announcing tours coming out of the pandemic, fans were ecstatic—overjoyed even—to buy tickets. Performances that were once just fun outings were now events that everyone worried could disappear again like they did during the height of COVID-19. Concerts became a celebration of life, love, and joy. Concertgoers began searching for the perfect ’fit that would communicate these feelings. Some audience members even exceeded typical dedication and made their own clothing. Thus, “concert core” was born. This essential fashion movement gives people a creative outlet and sense of control in a world that recently felt so unstable.

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Concert fashion is also an opportunity to escape the confines of “typical” life. Do you want to wear six-inch platforms that serve no practical purpose? Do it. Do you work a stuffy desk job and want to wear a puffy, poofy, and ethereal baby-doll dress? Go for it. Concerts now offer the attendee the chance to be anything they want in a world where that freedom of expression can sometimes feel repressed. Concert core has now elevated to a point surpassing all expectations.

Concert attire is an immediate connection among the concertgoer, neighboring spectators in the crowd, and the artist. This makes sense since these looks often begin with the artists on stage. Performers like Harry Styles, Rosalía, Elton John, and Olivia Rodrigo have made their onstage look as much of an iconic staple as the actual performance itself.

Musicians inspire attendees to don outfits that reflect the artist. An outfit can focus on one singular album like Gio Battaglia’s Renaissance-inspired outfit complete with fringe, silver metallics, and cowboy hat that he wore to pay homage to Beyoncé. A concert outfit can combine elements from an artist’s different albums, too. Take, for example, Battaglia’s Eras Tour outfit: he donned a reflective white and silver jumpsuit that seems to be emitting light. This garment, complete with a hood, is a nod to the hooded cape Swift wore in her Reputation era. It also seems to embody the disco ball era of 1989 or the song “Mirrorball” from her eighth studio album, Folklore.

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A look can also represent an artist across the entirety of their body of work. Battaglia’s black, shiny, leather short-set and metallic gold shoes embody the inclusivity and joy portrayed by Mother Monster herself, Lady Gaga.

Here are just a few tips and tricks for anyone planning on going all out for the performance of their lives. If wearing uncomfortable shoes, bring a backup pair for when the lights go down or if your commute is on foot. Trust me, your ankles and feet will thank you. Fanny packs can be a lifesaver, especially at festivals. Although subjected to a search at the front gate, what’s an extra forty-five seconds through security when you can pack a survival kit that’ll help your ’fit last an entire day and night. This survival kit should always include cash, a portable charger, and ID. Make sure to pack your favorite lip gloss or balm, extra glitter or rhinestones, an extra pair of sunnies, bobby pins, a stylish bandana, and a pocket-sized sewing kit where allowed. Depending on what artist you are going to see, fandom necessities change. The Eras tour, for example, led to a run on jewelry-making materials for friendship bracelets to exchange at the concert. Plan ahead and don’t be scrambling at the last minute to pull an outfit together. Don’t forget to look up what regulations a venue has in place, as all venues have different rules regarding what’s allowed inside. Nothing is worse than getting to the front gate and being rejected for entry.

The most important rule to follow to have the most stylish concert attire: have fun with it. You look most radiant when confident and comfortable. Fashion, much like music, is a universal language that can break down borders between race, religion, and background. Make sure you’re saying something that represents who you are and what you love.

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