The Coachella Vibe Shift: An Unwelcome Change

Heather Holm, Contributing Writer

Fashion trends come and go, but many associate Coachella attire with its late 2010s era: flower crowns, oversized sunglasses, ripped denim shorts and leather fringe. The aesthetic borrowed heavily from bohemian or ‘boho’ fashion – a style known for its appropriation of Indigenous and marginalized Easten European communities’ designs. Regardless of how well these Coachella looks stand the test of time, they were distinct to the festival – an outfit worn to the festival would not be interchangeable with an outfit worn to the mall. 

But as last weekend marked the first Coachella in two years, the celebrity attendees’ outfits failed to capture the excitement many feel for the ability to once again enjoy live music, let alone at a music festival, as pandemic restrictions continue to lessen.

Perhaps one of the most shocking looks from the event that also represents the ‘over-casual’ trend for this year’s Coachella was Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber, as reported by Hollywood Life. The two of them were photographed wearing nearly mirror outfits of a plain, white tank top paired with oversized jeans and a leather jacket. Without the photo’s context of being taken at the festival, it looks like any other night for the pair. 

Hollywood Life also reported that Kendall Jenner, too, embraced the trend by wearing monochromatic looks throughout the weekend, one of them being simply a cropped, black tank top with leather pants. 

I can’t help but feel conflicted about the significant number of celebrities’ decision to dress ‘down’ for this year’s festival. Part of the lore of Coachella is the ability to see your favorite celebrities dress in absurd outfits that are likely impractical for the desert sun. While some celebrities were wearing outfits more sophisticated than just a tank top and jeans and clearly put a decent amount of effort into this year’s looks, there seemed to have been  a general attitude of appearing not to care ‘too’ much about one’s fashion. 

For those like myself, who invest too much of their time in celebrity culture and news, this year’s ‘casual Coachella’ shouldn’t come as a surprise. Social media influencers planning to attend the festival, such as Emma Chamberlain and Tana Mongeau, have mentioned forgoing their elaborate fashion statements of previous years for a more laid back look. 

Unlike many other festivals, Coachella fashion holds nearly the same level of importance as the music for festival attendees. Emma Chamberlain admitted in a YouTube video from 2019 that she spent nearly 4 months planning outfits for the festival, and celebrities have been known to hire stylists to help them arrange the numerous outfit changes across the weekend festival. This extravagant frivolity is what adds to the hype of the event and looks seen from Coachella can inspire future fashion trends. The over-the-top overalls and patterned biker shorts of 2019’s Coachella can still be seen on non-festival attendees and in more muted color palettes. 

Additionally, Coachella fashion typically reflects and elevates current trends. The rise of a ‘casual’ Coachella could be a product of a greater embracement of loungewear and athleisure outside of the home as people are placing more value on the comfortability of clothing, after spending the significant portion of the past two years in sweatpants at home.   

As each update on my social media feeds transports me from rural upstate N.Y. to the dusty field grounds of Indio, Ca., I yearn to see the campy looks of Coachellas’ past.