So, its that time of year and SXSW is just around the corner. You may be a veteran and have been several times or maybe you’re an SXSW virgin. Either way, you may be thinking, what should I wear to SXSW?
I myself have been to SXSW 4 years out of the 5 I have lived in Austin, Texas. Each year gives a different vibe and I learn something new about it each time.
My first year going, I didn’t really know what I was walking into. So I didn’t really have anything to gauge how I should dress. I have done posts on festival looks in the past here. Nothing SXSW specific in that post, but still some good festival looks. It wasn’t until last year that I felt I really hands-down knew what some good outfits ideas would look like when attending SXSW.
With that being said, I wanted to create an SXSW Style Guide with 16 stylish outfit ideas for those of you who may be attending SXSW. If you’re not sure what to or to not wear, you have come to the right place for some help!
What is SXSW?
You may be reading this and not sure exactly what SXSW is. I knew NOTHING about it until my best friend moved here 7 years ago. Even still, when I moved here, I still was not clear.
By exact definition from the SXSW website, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries.
The festival lasts in total for about 3 weeks in March, it starts with the interactive first week, film second and music is the last week. I normally only participate in the music portion. One year, however, my friends and I got turned up during the interactive week on a Sunday.
I was supposed to work that night. Let’s just say as far as my job was concerned, I had come down with a cold and was going to be OOO (out of the office) for the night lol!
SXSW is best when you have a badge or wristband, PERIOD! Without either one, plan on standing in long lines for hours and possibly being denied entry to several venues.
I stood in line for 3 hours one year to get into the Rolling Out Loud concert! It rained and then they had the nerve to start charging to get in, WTF.
Don’t get me wrong though, you can still have fun for free. You just have to be STRATEGIC in planning where you are going to be going as far as events go. It’s a whole science to it gurl (or boy)!
Accessories To Keep On Deck!
SXSW can be a whole day event! This is not the kind of event that you come in and out of all day. Maybe if you have a hotel downtown, you could go back and forth to it in between events.
Other than that, stay your ass downtown! The traffic is no joke getting from and leaving downtown ATX during SXSW.
So since you may be downtown all day, you do not want to be caught slipping if you need anything. So there are a few accessories I would advise having in your arsenal when attending SXSW.
Most people nowadays records and captures everything on their cell phones, which can and will run down your battery. You don’t want to be caught slipping with a dead battery at SXSW.
GET A PORTABLE CHARGER STAT if you don’t already have one. This one here is only $21.00. I have one of these and its a lifesaver, click the image to get one for yourself.
Poncho or Umbrella
It is a strong possibility it could rain and it could rain while you are standing in line trying to get into an event. If you think they will let you stand inside while it rains, think again. You will be out in that rain and they will just look at you while you getting drenched.
You can get either one of these for less than $15. The poncho is a two-pack for $12.99 and the umbrella is $10.99. You may not take heed to this suggestion, you can’t say I did not warn you though, lol.
The sun may or may not be out. The years I have been, its been kind of a toss-up as far as sun goes. No matter what race you are, get you some sunscreen and take it with you. I don’t have any particular suggestions for this one. Just get one that works best for you and your skin.
Is My Fashion Going To Really Matter?
You may be thinking that this is a music festival, not New York Fashion Week. Why TF does what I wear matter. I’m going to have fun, not to do a photoshoot or peacock for photographers.
Well, to answer your question, YES IT DOES MATTER. I believe what you wear ALWAYS matters. There will be people from all over the country and other parts of the world at SXSW. First impressions matter and people judge whether they admit it or not.
I talked about this in-depth in my previous post here. You never know who you may meet at SXSW. Celebrity sightings are a given, so some effort in what you have on will not hurt.
By no means am I saying you should care what people think about what you have on. But for your own sake, being confident in what you have on will make your experience all the better.
With this being said, you should have fun with your fashion! It’s Austin, so being weird and unique is expected. Normally I would advise some sexy and magazine-worthy looks for events. That’s my personal style aesthetic.
But for SXSW, it’s all about being comfortable mostly. You can add fun to that, but tugging at uncomfortable clothing all day is not the business.
So I have said all of this and still have no fashions to show, lol. Without further adieu, I will now share the meat of the SXSW Style Guide, the 16 outfit ideas. I have some for the ladies and gentleman, nobody should feel left out, lol!
Just a little disclaimer, I use high-end labels in all of these looks. By no means am I advising you go out and purchase expensive designer clothing. You can dupe your heart out or just use these looks as a guide when looking for pieces that are in your budget.
Looks For The Ladies
Bohemian Hot Mama!!! This look screams ATX and is perfect for SXSW. Weather permitting of course, but you can easily event hop in this on warm/hot days.
Sophisticated fun! This look is perfect for in-between weather but still allows you to have some fun with your look. You may need to add some memory foam insoles to the boots because you will walk ALOT at SXSW. If you needed to take the jacket off, it can look just as cute wrapped around your waist.
Easy Breezy ATX girl! This is cute, simple and very wearable. You can easily wear this all day with little worries. This is what I would call “effort” but with no fuss.
Runway ready Texas girl! This look is for somebody like me, you like to be stylish when going to these type of events. Wearing this lets the people know you know your way around your closet!
Upscale Grunge! This look is so fun looking! Easy to wear and comfortable. You can’t go wrong wearing this.
For those of you who believe in age-appropriate clothing, this one is for you. I think women of all ages can pull this look off. Very comfortable, fashionable and chill. I can turn up in this look very easily with no worries, lol!
Girly Mechanic Realness! This look is another fun and easy to wear look. Not something that can get dirty easily ( which I get into more shortly) and comfy looking. These Grandpa sneakers better have a good comfortable insole with that thick sole.
This is the perfect blend of high fashion and a sporty look. All the walking and standing can be easily done wearing this. Also, the touch of red can get the attention of some fine men, if your single and looking, lol.
Looks For The Fellas
This is how I like to see a man wear some joggers, lol! This is very Army Guard Realness, but sexy and perfect to wear to a festival like SXSW.
It’s my personal belief that only really confident men can rock pink, lol. In Austin, wearing long sleeves with shorts is a “thing”, so why not do it in a fashionable way. I really like this look here!
Why not make your bag a true part of your outfit, lol! This chest bag not only adds to your look but also has plenty of room to carry essentials you will need for SXSW. Also, I have a look for the ladies above, which is very similar in red and green to this one. That look with this one would be a bomb couples look!
This look is giving me new school rapper realness! It’s cute though and works for SXSW. If you are a performer at one of the showcases and then hang out after, you can do this look for sure. If a dude stepped to me in this, he might be able to “get it” lol!
He can get it! This the perfect blend of a screen tee and grown and sexy look. I can see my future husband wearing this out to SXSW, lol. If your man or if you rather like to wear screen tees, this is how you make it fashionable and sexy!!
Party boy in full effect! If I see a guy in this, I automatically know he is a good time. This is the perfect look for ATX guys for SXSW. I keep thinking about the song “Shots” by LMFAO looking at this look, lol.
This is for the guy who is not trying to be “EXTRA” for SXSW, lol. Very masculine looking and sophisticated as well. Men of all ages could pull this look off. Imagine a guy wearing this with some good cologne on, yaaassss!!!!
I saved the best for last! I love this! Probably because out of all of the looks for guys, this one I would wear. I normally don’t do the “colors” lol, but in this case, its cute and fun. I can pop, lock and drop it in this outfit!
Notice I included a bag with ALL of these looks for the men and women. You’re going to need it to carry around the recommended items plus free stuff you will get during SXSW. Yes, you will get some free stuff if you go to enough events.
Fashion You DONT Wear To SXSW
Don’t play yourself and wear white, it will not stay white, PERIOD! It’s easy to get dirty at SXSW, with all the activity going on, it’s almost a given you will get dirty.
For this very reason, I would avoid white. I did use some white t-shirts above just for variety and you may be able to keep it clean. But most people always tell me they can’t keep it clean, so avoid it if you are most people, lol.
If you noticed, none of these looks included heels. Don’t wear heels at all ladies, even to put on for certain events, it really is not necessary. This is one time I approve flats over heels.
That’s All Folks!!
I hope that you find this SXSW Style Guide helpful. All in all, having fun is key but you want to be comfortable and confident while doing so. For me, when I am the most confident when I am looking good and that allows me to have the most fun!