We adore the flirty skirts and ornate outfits that have taken over festival fashion, but it wasn’t always so. Just as dance music has evolved over the years, rave fashion has evolved with it. Some trends from previous generations of the rave community are still around today, but have been altered to appeal to the new generation of ravers.
Walking through a festival today, we no longer see the iconic phat pants and midriffs of the early 90’s. Instead, we have decided to get rid of pants completely and show off even more skin. Before anyone starts taking any jabs at today’s rave style choices, we have to acknowledge that festival fashion trends are also influenced by street fashion trends. What does that have to do with more skin? What was deemed inappropriate in the 90’s is more widely accepted today. This is reflected in rave fashion as the peek of midriff from 90’s rave babes was scandalous then, but seems modest enough now as ravers and non-ravers of this generation show more skin than that in their everyday fashion choices. People also seem to forget that rave fashion is supposed to be different, controversial, and rebellious. As a counter-culture, it never aimed to be appropriate by societal standards. I don’t mean to say that rave fashion has to be risque, you’re welcome to wear whatever makes you feel fabulous, all I’m saying is it makes sense that rave fashion has become so bold and daring in this decade where more skin and higher hem lines aren’t things we shy away from.
With that in mind, let’s continue our journey through rave fashion’s past. In the early 1990’s, fashion choices within the rave community were more on the functional side. The phat pants that everyone loved oh-so-much not only looked cool when party goers danced and spun around, but they also had pockets perfect for holding your things. Phat pants along with boiler suits, smiley faces, visors, and a bit of midriff were the fashion highlights of this era.
Rave style by the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was heavily influenced by LA’s roots in hip hop culture. Adidas shoes and bell bottoms became a wardrobe staple along with cropped baby doll shirts. Though Adidas shoes aren’t a trend now, neon colors have made it through the decade and are still pretty popular among ravers. This was also an era where cyber style ruled the dancefloor with basic blacks and starkly contrasting UV and neon colors.
In the 2000’s we saw another shift in rave fashion trends with the introduction of kandi culture. Furry accessories became more popular and party goers started integrating go-go inspired elements, such as fluffies, to their outfits. Fashion trends within the EDM community are constantly evolving. Today, kandi culture is still prevalent though it seems to be less appreciated by the newest members of the community. And if you look back on what was trending only two years ago, you would see bright neon colors and a lot of tulle. Tutus are still worn ravers today however, we’re seeing more and more girls opt for flirty micro-skirts and micro shorts with cut outs. Ravers who are notorious for brightly colored neon clothing are showing a new appreciation for more pastel and earthy colors as well. Halters, pasties, and all kinds of sheer tops are slowly taking over festival fashion as rave bras and the go-go inspired savage wraps, while still popular, take the back seat. Boiler suits have given way to onsies and, for ladies – one pieces and bodysuits. Smiley faces of the early 90’s are still very popular and there’s even a new familiar face trending: aliens. Aliens, mermaids, hologram, and psychedelic prints are favorites in festival fashion and with the emergence of improved technology, all over prints are now flooding the dance floor. Many festival goers today take their outfits quite seriously and even custom order or custom make unique creations for each event. The flow of creativity has even led to the introduction of plunge bras and samba bras into festival wear.
Although many changes have taken place in the culture of the scene and trends have shifted, rave fashion has kept true to the empowerment of self-expression and youthfulness. While ravers today may wear more revealing clothes, the inspiration comes from the same place it always has – a desire to be different, to escape reality, and the need for a creative outlet. Rave fashion is and will always be whatever you want it to be, a reflection of yourself embraced by everyone around you. There will always be trends, but festival fashion doesn’t discriminate if you’re not “trendy” and want to dress in something a little quirky…we like quirky
Associate Brand Manager of iHeartRaves.com & Editor in Chief of Studio 240. If you're interested in writing for Studio 240 shoot me an email at Angela@iheartraves.com!