Each spring, like clockwork, the fashion set swaps their off-duty gear for copious fringe and decamps to the desert. Yes, festival season is upon us, but contrary to popular belief, it's still possible to dance with reckless abandon and not look like a wannabe bohemian goddess (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, if that's your thing). Next weekend, Team InStyle is headed to the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. I'll be hitting the grounds along with our L.A.-based editor Janelle Grodsky. (Follow our adventures on Instagram @clairecstern and @thestyleeater.) Until then, I'll be consumed with packing my carry-on. Here's what's making the cut.
As anyone who frequents Coachella knows, the weather is no joke. To ensure that my hair withstands the sweltering temperatures, I'm arming myself with my two go-to frizz tamers: Batiste's dry shampoo and Bumble & Bumble's trusty Surf Spray. Combined, they create the perfect just-woke-up-like-this beach wave. Moisturizer is an obvious must, and OPI's Aloha From OPI shade makes me feels like summer may actually be coming soon. Hopefully?
From left: Alice + Olivia Off-the-Shoulder Maxi Dress ($485; net-a-porter.com), Paul & Joe Paquerette Sandals ($445; paulandjoe.com), Paige Denim Marjorie Jacket ($295; paigedenim.com), Sarah Flint Andrea Espadrilles ($425; sarahflint.com), Re/Done High Rise Shorts ($173; shopredone.com), Topshop Studded Western Belt ($60; us.topshop.com), Del Mar Nila Top and Bottom ($173; delmarswim.com), Superga x Sandro Sneakers ($108; selfridges.com), BaubleBar Bali Pendant Necklace ($32; baublebar.com), The Game On Snapback Hat ($35; hillaryclinton.com), Tavik Ryan Top and Bottom ($118; tavik.com), Elina Linardaki Saltwater Handmade Sandal ($195; another20.com)
Now that I'm no longer a novice Coachella-goer (this year will mark my second time at the fest), I can confidently say that it's arguably more about the fashion than the music. And the key to standing out is not looking like everyone else. I'm checking my flower crown at the door in favor of cotton tank tops (courtesy of American Eagle and Pam & Gela), denim cutoffs, and swimsuits that can be worn underneath in the event of an impromptu pool party.
When the temperatures plummet at nighttime, I'll have this Alice + Olivia maxi dress and Paige Denim cotton jacket, which can be easily stuffed in my bag during the day. As far as accessories go, this western belt from Topshop goes with everything (including the aforementioned denim shorts and dress), and this Hillary Rodham Clinton snapback hat doubles as election propaganda.
I'm not a big fan of wearing metal jewelry in the sun because it gets so hot, so BaubleBar's beaded necklaces are a solid festive option. For my feet, I'm looking at four styles: Sarah Flint's espadrilles, Superga sneakers (this pair is from the brand's collaboration with Sandro and features custom embroidery by Marie Sophie Lockhart, in the event I forget my own initials), Elena Linardaki's sandals, which I presume were made specifically for Coachella, and these metallic Paul & Joe sandals with a small heel that renders them perfect for party hopping.
From left: Apple Watch ($299; apple.com), Botkier Warren Backpack ($298; botkier.com), Pared Eyewear Sonny & Cher Sunglasses ($240; paredeyewear.com), KORA Organics Calming Lavendar Face Mist ($44; koraorganics.com), Mophie Juice Pack Plus ($120; mophie.com), Clarins 50+ SPF Sunscreen For Face Wrinkle Control Cream ($34; sephora.com), Glossier Coconut Balm Dotcom ($12; glossier.com)
The handbag (or in my case, backpack) is the most crucial part of the packing process, as it needs to contain everything you could possibly need to survive for several hours in the middle of nowhere. I'm filling mine with an Apple Watch (Square is the official point of sale at this year's festival, so I won't need my wallet), these Pared Eyewear sunnies, which cover a large portion of my face, and for the rest of it, this KORA face mist to conceal bodily odors, Clarins sunscreen, which feels soft like a lotion, and this Glossier balm to keep my lips feeling smooth and smelling great. Last but not least, a Mophie charger is essential for extra juice, especially with all the Instagramming burning through our battery life.