The Art of Concert Dressing
From The Rolling Stones and Madonna to Harry Styles and Beyoncé, dressing up to see your fave musician perform isn't new, but modern fans have taken this trend to the next level.
While the typical concert uniform was once a band tee and jeans, a new era of “concert dressing” is setting a different standard for what fans wear to see their favourite live music acts — and it’s turning concerts into full-on fashion shows.
The idea behind concert dressing — dressing on-theme to match the vibe of the artist one is seeing — isn’t brand new. People have been dressing according to the energy of the shows they’re attending for ages. For instance, it’s common knowledge that so-called hippie fashion (think tons of fringe, flowy dresses and lots of denim) dominated music festivals dating back to Woodstock and that an outfit for a rock show continues to include staples like leather pants and distressed fabrics. In 2023, concert dressing is taking this tradition to a whole new level.
For some, crafting the perfect concert outfit involves drawing inspiration from an artist’s music. Several concert-goers have done this by matching their look to the general sound of an artist’s discography, while others create ensembles based on particular lyrics (for example, a “wine-stained dress” is a fan favourite to wear at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour because it references a specific line from her 2014 song, “Clean”). Other fans have gone further by fully replicating looks that their favourite artists have worn themselves. Some have even caught their favourite performer’s attention with these extremely detailed concert costumes too — who can forget the iconic moment at Beychella where Queen Bey literally stopped mid-song to praise a fan who had completely recreated the on-stage look she was wearing just the weekend before?
@beautiyonce Replying to @draya___ #Beyonce#MemyselfandIbeyonce#Beychella#fyp#viral#xyzbca#blowthisup#trending ♬ original sound – 𝑩𝒆𝒚𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆́🐝
While over-the-top concert dressing is not a totally new idea, social media has popularized the trend — after all, were you even at the show if you didn’t share your cool concert look on your feed? And there’s no doubt that an overall excitement for the return of live music and a way to celebrate seeing one’s favourite artist in person since the peak of COVID-19 has inspired fans to go all out.
In honour of fashion’s most delightful current fad, here’s a look at the evolution of concert dressing through the years.
The Rolling Stones
Known for their carefree and eccentric fashion choices, The Rolling Stones certainly influenced a shift in concert culture during the peak of their popularity. As their style evolved from clean-cut suits to leather pants and long hair, their fans’ fashions also began to change. By the ’70s, it was common to see tons of Mick Jagger outfit inspo at a Stones show with concert-goers replicating his outlandish style in crop tops and clashing patterns.
We can’t discuss concert culture without mentioning Madonna. After bursting onto the scene in the 1980s and becoming both a major celebrity and style icon, fans would often sport Madonna-inspired looks to her concerts. And since Madonna is ever the chameleon, having evolved her look and sound countless times over the last few decades, that means fans have worn everything from homemade cone bras and penciled-in moles to feathered hair and low-rise Western pants to watch the Material Girl perform.
As one of the most popular performers during the original wave of Y2K trends, Britney Spears’ young fans showed up to her concerts in all the most iconic styles of the time, all sported by Spears herself, of course. Baby tees, low-rise pants and kitschy accessories like butterfly clips and scrunchies would often be worn by her fans. Naturally, artist merchandise was super popular at the time, and fans would often sport Britney T-shirts at her shows.
@imsarahmcveigh What people wore to Harry Styles 🍒❤️🔥🏰 #hslotoutfit #hslot #hslotslane #harrystylesloveontour ♬ Satellite speed audio – 1D Audioz
Regarded by some as one of the most significant reasons modern concert dressing is so popular, Harry Styles fans went all out for every single one of the British pop icon’s shows during his recent two year-long tour. Often drawing from Styles’ on-stage fashion, fans wore bell bottoms, eccentric prints, platform boots, cowboy hats and lots of feather boas to Styles’ Love On Tour shows. Others would even take it further by recreating some of Styles’ icon looks for the show or re-imagining song lyrics into full-on, Met Gala-worthy costumes.
@sarahfromflorida OBSESSED with every swiftie’s outfit last night!! Taylor would be so proud!! #taylorswifterastour #erastouroutfits #erastouroutfitideas #karmaisacat #swiftietiktok #tampaerastour ♬ Bejeweled – Taylor Swift
One group of fans who are committed to dressing up for concerts is the Swifties. For those lucky enough to snag a ticket to Taylor Swift’s wildly popular Eras Tour, the outfit is a major part of the experience and a way for fans to show love to their favourite Swift albums, songs and even past looks. For example, many fans choose to wear costumes that represent their favourite “era” of Swift’s career, such as an all-black, snake-motif-filled look to represent her “Reputation” album or a western–inspired look to emulate Swift’s debut country album, “Taylor Swift.” Other fans have opted to recreate some of Swift’s red carpet looks, with a popular one being the floral Oscar de la Renta dress the singer wore to the 2021 Grammy Awards. Whatever direction they choose to take their outfit, the verdict is clear that Swifties do not mess around when it comes to their Eras Tour looks.
@hemali.mistry Comment for part 2! Toronto understood the assignment and showed up looking fly at the beyonce renaissance tour! #beyonceknowles #beyonce #beyoncerenaissance #beyoncerenaissance #renaissanceworldtour #beyonceconcertoutfit #beyonceconcert #outfitideas #beyonceconcertoutfit #outfitideas #outfitinspo #fashiontiktok ♬ ENERGY (feat. Beam) – Beyoncé
The fashion from both Beyoncé and her fans during the singer’s current worldwide Renaissance Tour is in a league of its own. Inspired by the disco dance party vibes of Beyoncé’s Renaissance album, fans have been sporting sparkly, futuristic and western-inspired looks. And Queen Bey is matching the energy by debuting several new couture costumes at every show. As Beyoncé sings herself, “it should cost a billion to look this good.”