After a two-year hiatus, festival season is finally underway — and the three-day desert romp that is Coachella is kicking things off with a bang. Perhaps it’s the pent-up excitement and energy that’s been steadily building, but festival-goers are packed, vaxxed, and ready to take on the sweltering temps and dusty elements to get their party on ... in style of course. Which begs the question: with so much maximalism and a garden variety of trends having their moment, how does one prepare a proper Coachella packing list worthy of the fashion extravaganza?
For starters, don’t just pack for the heat, says DJ Amrit Sidhu (who will playing at this year’s ZOEasis party!). “It's boiling hot in the day and freezing at night and I think people always forget how cold it gets at night,” she says to TZR. “You really have to have a jacket, even if it’s really hot during the day. But you always have a bikini in your bag [too], so you have to be prepared for both ends of the spectrum.”
Ahead, TZR tapped the DJ and five other creatives for their specific packing strategies for this year’s Coachella festival. If your own suitcase currently has a figurative question mark on it, it might be time to take some notes from the pros.
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With a job that sends her all over the world, Sidhu has the art of packing down to a science. In fact, because she’s on the road so often, the DJ explains that she keeps certain essentials bagged up so she can get up and go at a moment’s notice. “It [includes the] travel size of everything I use in a travel bag,” she says. “So I'm never scrambling to try and fit my products in or worried I'm over the [TSA] limit or anything like that, and I feel like having that done is just a lifesaver.”
So, it’s safe to assume Sidhu’s suitcase for Coachella has been half-packed well for some time now. And considering the three-day weekend will be a working one, it’s nice to have a few minor details (like making sure you have your favorite dry shampoo and eye drops) already squared away.
As for the style route, the DJ, who describes her style as “functional” yet “zany and eclectic,” is committing to an Americana aesthetic that seems to be on trend for Coachella 2022. “My mood changes and my style changes with it, so I like to also be inspired by my environment,” says Sidhu. “Out in the desert, I'm definitely going to go the Western route, so I'm bringing cowboy boots, a lot of distressed vintage leathers, oversized hats, like that kind of vibe. It'll definitely be a yee-haw moment, for sure.”
But what has the creative most excited about the upcoming weekend is simply being in a social environment again. “[I’m looking forward to seeing people enjoying themselves at big live music events again,” says Sidhu. “I haven't been able to play [these past two years] and then when I started again I was seeing this new energy that's out there. People are just so appreciative of live shows and being on a dance floor and that is such an enjoyable experience to be a part of.”
Another festival season veteran, digital creator Taye Hansberry looks back at her early Coachella days with amusement. The first year she attended (in 2012), “I remember wearing a Forever 21 dress and changed three times a day,” she says with a laugh. “I changed in the car depending on the party we were going to and threw on whatever crazy thing I thought was cute at the time. Now, I’m like ‘Take me as I am and what I have on and deal.’”
Yes, with some musical festival experience in tow, Hansberry says her approach to Coachella dressing these days is a wise blend of trendy and her own personal style preference (which errs on streamlined and sophisticated with pops of color). “I’ve never really been one to jump on a trend right away,” explains the creative. “I’ll think about it for a while and determine if it works with my style and body. I don’t want an outfit wearing me. I want to wear the outfit, you know?”
This year, a trend Hansberry is leaning into is the vibrant, candy-coated craze taking over the fashion space. Whether through a bright accessory or footwear, or a monochromatic set, the influencer says she’s stocking up on “color and metallics” for festival season ... and beyond. “I don’t want Coachella clothes to be just for Coachella anymore,” she explains. “I’m prioritizing sustainability and trying to work these pieces into things I’ll wear throughout the year and coming seasons, like for a wedding or any other type of formal event.”
Despite this being her 12th (!) time attending Coachella, content creator Meeka Hossain says there’s a new (or, rather, renewed) excitement surrounding this year’s event. “I’m excited for those feelings I’ve missed when I’m out there surrounded by great music, food, and art for three full days,” she explains. “It’s like an adult playground for us. I'm excited to bounce around and see new artists who haven’t toured through LA in years (or ever), and to see who I discover!”
And, fresh into her 30s, Hossain explains her approach to packing for the weekend romp is definitely different than that of her 20-something self. “When I was younger, I was into more trendy, revealing clothes,” she explains. “But now, and into a new decade of life, my personal style has evolved and become more refined and minimalistic. My festival outfits will still be fun, but I won’t be going full out Y2K.” But that’s not to say the LA native is forgoing all trends. Hossain sites cool cut-outs, Pantone colors, sporty bustiers, and statement necklaces as her style priorities for festival season. “I would describe my style as chic and tomboy. I have a tonal wardrobe so things mix and match easily,” she says. “I also like my clothes to be effortless and, often, oversized which is my more boyish, edgy side.”
And with over a decade of Coachella wisdom under her belt, the festival veteran says she’s learned the value of pre-planning accordingly to avoid overpacking. “I don't bring a million things to the desert for a three- day weekend,” she says. “I always pack at least three swimsuits for pool hangouts during the day, comfy boots and sandals that you know you won't get blisters in, at least one jacket for night time when the temperatures drop, sunglasses for dust storms, and either a small pouch bag or a mini backpack to carry everything around in at the festival.”
After spending the past two years cooped up at home, model and content creator Alex May says she’s prepared to be as “extra” as she pleases. “With my looks, I’m going there,” she says. “Let’s say, in a nutshell, my strategy is form meets function. How can I use the same base pieces styled differently and enhanced with accessories? I’ll be packing plenty of swimsuits to style into outfits and over-the-top accessories (think a rhinestone cowboy hat by Los Angeles Cowgirl and neon cowboy boots).”
It comes as no surprise that the creative describes her style as a “conversation-starter” — and committed. “I think I used to feel self conscious or be afraid of ‘trying too hard’ or standing out too much, especially as a tall and curvy woman,” says May. “But, this year, I promised myself I was going to have fun with [my style] and trust my fashion choices. I want to connect with people after being sheltered away for so long, and I want to do that showing up as my most true self, and that often starts with what we choose to wear! Life is too short to not love what you wear.”
In addition to exploring the Coachella grounds, May will likely be found doing all the things she missed most these past two years. “I am just looking forward to having fun with friends, sipping on sparkling rosé and listening to live music in the sunshine and under the stars, feeling grateful we’re all able to be together and celebrate that for the first time in so long.”
Although this season is sure to see trend-forward maximalism at its finest, Kira Mackenzie Jackson, head of partnerships and community at RX3 Growth Partners, says she’s aiming to sustain the shelf life of her Coachella ensembles well beyond the three-day weekend. “I’m doing my best to stick to a unified color palette, which (I hope) will not only make it easier for me to put together outfits each morning based on the vibe I’m feeling for that day, but also allow me to purchase pieces that will have a place in my wardrobe post-festival season,” she explains.
For that reason, neutral, versatile separates paired with vibrant accessories are her plan of attack. “The Ba&sh utility jumpsuit — casual, comfy, cool, and versatile — she checks all the boxes,” says Mackenzie Jackson, who describes her style as comfy-chic and waste-conscious. “I’m planning to wear her with a super cropped tank, and if I get warm during the day, I can pull the top down and tie the sleeves around my waist.” Set against a sherbet-colored crossbody and vibrant hair accessories, this look is festival-ready.
“For me, comfort is key,” she says. “You won’t find me in crazy corsets, mini skirts, or heeled booties. Each of the pieces I've selected are because I know I’ll be comfortable in them all day long. I like to throw in a little masculine edge with big shoulders, combat boots, and boiler suits, but I’m keeping the details like jewelry, bags, etc. dainty and feminine.”
With so many styles and eras past trending at this moment of maximalism, BDG Executive Beauty Director Faith Xue says she’s torn on which direction to go for Coachella. “I keep going back and forth between a flowy dress and boots vibe, or bodysuit and shorts (and glitter),” she says. “As someone extremely decisive, I think I'm going to do a bit of both.”
Although this year marks Xue’s sixth year at Coachella, Xue says she’s sticking to a style strategy that’s “less costume-y” than past years, but still free-spirited and fun. “Um...you do not want to see what I've worn to previous Coachellas,” says the beauty pro. “Let's just say I really leaned in to the festival vibes...flower crowns may have been worn. I'm keeping things much simpler and streamlined this year.”
This approach applies to her beauty routine, too. Practical, multi-purpose beauty products are the name of the game in the sweltering desert heat, so Xue explains that a spray sunscreen and dual blush and bronzing stick are at the top of her list. “Though I love a glitter moment, I tend to keep the rest of my face makeup super light during Coachella, mostly, so it doesn't instantly melt off my face in the desert heat,” she says, noting Dibs’ Desert Island Duo as a prime pick. “This dual-ended stick is so versatile — you can use it on your cheeks as blush, or as bronzer or contour, or even on your eyes. It's a festival essential.”