A Shallow Person’s Guide to the Folk Fest (Part 3 of 3)

What to Wear

It appears that I am not the only one who understands that thought must be put into acquiring an appropriate couture for this event. On my usual Saturday stop at the local Starbucks, I happened to pick up the most recent issue of “Avenue” magazine only to discover a full-page spread on what to wear to the Folk Fest. My first thought was what a lovely coincidence and a wonderful way for me to save some time writing the blog. Unfortunately, a quick tally of their suggested duds clocks in at around $1450.00 for the gals and just over a “C” note for you fellas. I’m pretty sure this mission can be accomplished for less, so here are some more frugal ways to make your fashion statement.

The “Zip-Off pant”: Time to forage to the back of your closet to find those zip-off pants you bought for your impending trip to Machu Picchu…you know, the one you have on your bucket list. This is the perfect event for those and no one will ever know you haven’t made the trip. Couple of things here. Make sure you remove all of the tags (sometimes they hide them in the oddest places) and, if you can, go for a trail walk before the big day just to make them look a little less pristine. After all, you don’t want anyone to think you went out and bought something special for the fest. But the real benefit you will accrue from wearing this undeniably fashionable garb is that you won’t have to use the bathroom (honestly, that’s what they call those things) to change from shorts to long pants in the cool of the evening. Trust me, that is worth more than you know.

The Skinny Jean: Please note: The above suggestion is for folks of my era. Here to help my younger readers avoid a fashion faux-pas, is guest blogger Wader (you’ve seen his comments on the blog.) This year coloured skinny denim is in, in a very big way for both men and women. As this is folk fest you’ll need to jazz up the off the shelf pair in one or more ways. Try getting a jiffy marker (washable if you intend on wearing these in the outside world) and writing political messages on the thighs (note: you’re preaching to the choir, but it’ll still feel good). Roll or cuff the pants until your calves are so constricted they begin to turn light blue. If this doesn’t happen then your pants aren’t skinny enough! Wear a belt if you must but ensure it has been made by a local artisan out of ethically obtained vegan leather (even that confuses me, but go with it). Finally, you can preserve the integrity – structural or otherwise – of your pants for future use by adorning them with buttons. Recommended causes include the pro-choice movement, the NDP, bands/artists that aren’t performing, bands that are terribly obscure (eg. Brady Bunch Lawnmower Massacre, Freud Chicken, Pope John Paul Quartet with Friends, etc.), a particularly unique “pride” symbol (the rainbow Star of David works here), ironic sayings (eg. “I’m only here for the hotdogs” or “I heart hula”), the CKUA logo (CBC will work if you don’t live in Alberta), or pretty much anything that would annoy someone like Sarah Palin.

The Shoes: Take off those Birks ‘cause while they might look great with your “zip-offs” you’re going to have to stop and ask yourself what good they are doing for the third world. No my friends, without a doubt, the one and only choice to cover your feet at this year’s fest are “Toms”. For those of you who still think this is simply a short form of a guys name, it’s time to get yourself down to your local shoe boutique for an update. The “buy one, give one” mantra has taken the world by storm and if you don’t know it yet, you will by the end of the first day. “Toms” are funny though, not really comfortable, not really well-made and relatively expensive for what you get. Doesn’t matter, you’re helping to provide shoes for a child in Africa (although not very comfortable or well-made) so on they go. (I know this all sounds a little irreverent so I should disclose here that I am currently rockin’ my fourth pair of “Toms” and you have some serious catching up to do.) Your immediate problem is that you have to buy “Toms” a size too small because they stretch out so much over time. Given we are now so close to the start line and you won’t have time to break them in, your feet are going to hurt for the first day or two. Better get over it because form really is more important than function and looking cool and benevolent at the same time should be all the motivation you need to tough this one out.

Something on Top: Tie-dye works. So does anything “flowy”, madras, or that looks like you made it from fabric you picked up at the market on your last trip to India. Tees that have been reconstructed in some unusual way. Denim shirts and jackets, but the latter really ought to be vintage Levi or you’re not fooling anyone. Tees from concerts you (or someone you know) have attended, preferably before 1980. Could be time for a trip to Value Village, or your parents’ closet. Tees with sayings (lean to the left on this one, see the “skinny jeans” segment). If you’re really adventurous you may want to join the “Free Hugs” t-shirt gang. Just remember that it gets hot, people get sweaty and they will take you up on your offer. I’ll leave that decision to you. Avoid anything with a logo, collar or “polo” as a descriptor. I’m not sure this is explicitly stated in the rule book but the peer pressure alone will make you want to go home and change.

The Hair: Put away all those hair products and appliances you use. These are the four days of the year when your hair gets a chance to breathe and make an appearance in its natural state. This one is particularly hard for me but, from what I can see, not for many other people. Bonus: You get a chance to remember what your hair really looks like and you will no longer regret all of the time and money you spend making it not look that way. Guys, if there is a way you can coax whatever hair you have left into a ponytail, do it. This advice may have come too late for this year’s fest but you’ll want to keep it in mind for next summer. I’d go out on a limb (I do that sometimes) and say make-up is optional but given the aging demographic of the “party-goers” it might not be. Something tasteful in face-painting might be a good compromise here.

Rain Gear: I’m not as familiar as I should be with this category but for those of you who decide that a little water falling from the sky only makes the day more fun, you’re going to want some protection. We’re not talking little umbrellas and trench coats here but rather industrial style, head to toe cover-ups in various shades of yellow. Fortunately there are many “made in Canada” options in this category and I strongly suggest this as a first choice. They are a little expensive but you’ll be able to put them to good use the next time you go out to sea. That’s about all of the advice I can give on this one because, well I just go home at the first hint of inclement weather.

That’s about it. I know this has been much longer and more involved than usual but these type of get togethers are so just so compelling for a shallow person. And while this advice may seem to be rather specific to our locale I am pretty sure that much of it is transferable to other events of this ilk. And now I must take some of my own advice and get ready to go. If only I could remember where I put my zip-offs.

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5 thoughts on “A Shallow Person’s Guide to the Folk Fest (Part 3 of 3)

  1. Barbara Didie Dulberg says:

    I’m Confused!!!!! Too much information!!!! Happy to live in Ontario, too far to travel!!!!!
    Have a great time. xxoo D.

  2. Martha says:

    WOW, this was definitely informative. I had no idea there was so much prep involved when attending a local festival. Seeing as I am from Nelson B.C. I have no doubt I could fit in however, I think I will need to start the preparations in January as aside from the natural state of my hair that I have been attempting to pull off since July I would just look way too “normal” to be seen at folk fest 2012. This will also allow time for a new pants trend to come in because I have been unable to embrace the colourful skinny jeans. Get ready for 2013!

    • wcaplan says:

      I think you’d be just fine as you have us all beat for authenticity at the mention of Nelson, B.C. The extra time will however provide you with an opportunity to perfect the “look” and by then we’ll all be sporting “Shallow and Proud” tees to go with those new bottoms. BTW, thanks for providing me with a legitimate way to work in the merch plug.

  3. Smg says:

    I am a little concerned about the cyanotic lower limbs, Wader I worry about you!!

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