What To Wear To Art Basel

Nine Miami-literate friends share their tips and tricks for navigating the art world’s most surreal scene.

Once a year, the global art world converges on that most unlikely of sun-blinded cities: Miami. The transition from artificial gallery and office lighting to white sand beaches is, for many, deeply confounding. Nowhere more so than in the sartorial realm. We hit up nine Art Basel regulars (along with a couple of trust-worthy first-timers) for their favorite tips and tricks for navigating the art world's biggest, most surreal scene.

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What To Wear To Art Basel
Olivia Jené Fagon, 24.

Project Manager and Production Manager at Art.sy. Fourth time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? Business. I’m not a collector, I don’t work in the commercial art world, but I go there to educate myself. There’s very few places where you can see that much art in one go, to see what’s going to be going on in the art world for the next five to ten years.
What are you wearing? This is a japanese tea jacket, and the jeans are Rag & Bone.
Why this outfit? This would definitely be me going out. The thing about Basel is you there are to collect, educate, go out, and socialize. I always wear plunging necklines cause that is my thing, and body chains. These jeans are a little bit of a departure [for me] but I think they're kind of Miami.
What else are you going to be packing? I will be packing a swimsuit, but mostly fashion forward business clothes. A good book, and my laptop cause I will be working. It’s so much about the fairs for me and less about the parties.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? Basel gets so much slack because it is a trade show and it’s very commercial, but you get to see some of the best galleries around the world bringing some of their best artists.
And your least favorite? The party circuit can be a little frustrating. If you are there to learn, educate, and take in art, sometimes the parties feel in spite of that. And there’s a sense that that’s the whole art world. That’s very misleading.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Comfortable shoes, business cards, and the Art.sy app—because I think you should definitely scope out what you want to see before you get there, so its not overwhelming.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Do your research before you get there. Know where you are staying, know where the fairs are. If you are about to enter an art fair and see 1,000 pieces at once, it’s good to have a plan.

What To Wear To Art Basel
Marvin Merk, 25.

Writer at Dis and Producer at Merk. Been to "every single one except last year."

Business or pleasure? Pleasure.
What are you wearing? The jacket is 69, my girl gave me this dress thing, some ripped Levi’s, and the Margiela Converse. The hat says William Onyeabor, he was this really dope Nigerian musician who converted to radical Christianity.
Why this outfit? It’s New York cozy but like, Miami edgy.
What else are you going to be packing? Bottles of water, lighters, cigarettes. I’m from there so I just bring like wife beaters and basketball shorts.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? Running away from artists. If someone tells you they’re an artist, run. And if collectors try to sell you art, just say no.
And your least favorite? People who claim that they’re real Miami and that Basel isn’t.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Advil.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Sleep before you go, because you won’t be sleeping when you’re there.

What To Wear To Art Basel
Dyani Douze, 22.

Student, artist, filmmaker, musician. First time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? It’s a little bit of both, maybe a little bit of networking and a little bit of fun.
What are you wearing? I got this top from Beacon’s Closet, it’s Armani actually. And these basketball shorts are from Adidas and this jacket is House of 950, from this cute little store in Bed-Stuy called Sincerely, Tommy.
Why this outfit? I was thinking, I’m from Florida, and it rains sometimes so I just want to be ready with a jacket for the rain. And also since it’s humid, I want to wear shorts and not be too sweaty.
What else are you going to be packing? I guess just clothes. I’m only there for like three days.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? From what I’ve seen online, all the DJs. I’m definitely looking forward to the dancing.
And your least favorite? The crowd. Being in large crowds all the time, that’s kind of stressful.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? I’ve never been, but for me my camera, cause I always document.
Have you gotten any good advice? No, I’m just kind of winging it.

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What To Wear To Art Basel
Corey Olsen, 25.

Photographer. Second time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? Both. Gonna have work and show with the chair of the school I went to.
What are you wearing? Calvin Klein socks, paint-covered Dickie’s Pants, Hoka sneakers.
Why this outfit? I think it’s funny to wear a pair of pants covered in paint to an art thing. It’s funny to look like the artist even though I don’t paint. It’s a good conversation-starter. I’m wearing sneakers because last time I was there, I was on my feet all day, so it’s good to wear comfy shoes.
What else are you going to be packing? I'm packing clothes and photo gear.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Bring your friends and some swimwear.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? Other people and artists that you know from all the place end up in one spot. Also it’s good to get out of New York City in the winter.
And your least favorite? The sadness. The art world sad, that’s the worst. Basel is becoming such a pop culture thing, but that part is kind of funny too though. It’s a bad thing and a funny thing. It’s become a party.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Don’t have any expectations. Don’t worry about going to any parties. Try to have fun, be chill.

What To Wear To Art Basel
Thor Shannon, 24.

Assistant at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. Second time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? Business, but hopefully lots of pleasure.
What are you wearing? I’m wearing Adidas sneakers, APC Jeans. I think a COS sweater.
Why this outfit? It falls in line with my generally simple approach to dress, which isn’t too flashy or showy and still casual.
What else are you going to be packing? I’m packing a bathing suit or several, and my running shoes which I wear constantly.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? I’m most looking forward to Twist, which is one of the best bars in the world with the best dancing.
And your least favorite? I really try to avoid the celebrity scene-y side of Basel, and try to operate on the fringes as much as I can, which is not very possible. But getting to operate along the edges and not be where everyone is is more fun.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Sandals. I take great pleasure in not having to wear boots in early December.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Make it skinny-dipping your first time.

What To Wear To Art Basel
Ali Rosa-Salas, 24.

Curator at MoCADA. First time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? Both. My work is having an exhibit down there and I’ve never been.
What are you wearing? I’m wearing a dress that I brought in the 9th grade at Beacon’s Closet. And a fanny pack my sister got me from Amsterdam. And clogs.
Why this outfit? This is a very summery dress. It’s very comfortable and bright. It’s a staple for me anytime it’s hot, and then my fanny pack because I just wear it everywhere and it’s just a practical item to have. It’s my appendage anywhere I travel; this is just an extension of me and it looks like I’m a tourist.
What else are you going to be packing? My computer, unfortunately.
What are you most looking forward to at Art Basel? I’m most looking forward to seeing a lot of work in one place. And being able to be dedicated to doing that for a week.
And least looking forward to? I guess the sceney-scene. I hate waiting on line for parties and stuff so if that’s the case, I will probably keep low-key.
Has anyone given you any good advice? Make sure to get on VIP ahead of time.

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What To Wear To Art Basel
Steven Phillips-Horst, "I'd rather not say".

Comedian. “I go every year, I have to. I wish I could count but I can’t. The art world would draw and quarter me if I didn’t go. They don’t take being slighted lightly.”

Business or pleasure? What’s the difference?
What are you wearing? This is a T-shirt, very functional. But if you’ll notice I have my Twitter name on the back and that’s very key, because obviously the art world is all about branding. A lot of money down there. And most of it’s mine, I stay at my dad’s estate when I’m there. But the day-to-night is [lifts up shirt]. These pants are from a street market in L.A. I love how vertical they are. The boots are Timberlands. They are all-purpose.
Why this outfit? A Basel, you’re at a dinner, you’re at a beach, you’re at a pool, you are in a hot tub, you're at a mansion, someone’s pulling out a gun. You need something that can kind of work in all those contexts.
What else are you going to be packing? I don’t bring anything. I keep clothes down there.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? I know a lot of people have a lot of emotions around like, "Did I get asked to come? Am I doing this installation?" But not really being apart of the art world, I don’t have to subscribe to any of that. I have no qualms about saying “I’m just here to party, I’m just here to be the scenery." I don’t have to get into the "Am I worth it?" debate.
And your least favorite? Everything. I’m so tired of it. I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have too.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Your checkbook.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Don’t speak to me, don’t approach me. If you see me don’t walk away, just observe.

What To Wear To Art Basel
Alaina Barry, 21.

Student. Second time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? Pleasure.
What are you wearing? This dress is Moschino from the early ‘90s, the shoes are Jeffrey Campbell.
Why this outfit? I ordered a lot of fashion looks but they’re not here yet, and I custom-made some latex stuff. But I wanted to do some anti–fashion looks, like this one. Someone was like, "If you wanna do anti–fashion you should just go naked." But I was like, "That’s too much."
What else are you going to be packing? I’m packing nice looks, some backup looks and some day and night looks. Swimsuits, sandals.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? The parties.
And your least favorite? The Uber surge.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Probably an iPhone 6.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Don’t leave South Beach, because it gets hard to get back.

What To Wear To Art Basel
Richie Shazam Khan, 25.

Director of sales at Franziska Fox. Fourth time going to Art Basel.

Business or pleasure? It starts with business and ends with pleasure.
What are you wearing? I’m wearing complete Franziska Fox.
Why this outfit? It’s sexy, fun, easy. It’s great for the climate and it’s great day-to-night, you just have to change the shoes. They’re statement pieces, you’re in the building.
What else are you going to be packing? Looks that are sexy and strong. A beach towel and tanning oil! The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? Connecting with people outside of New York, it’s fun to see people you might otherwise have social media relationships with. Sitting on the beach and drinking coconut water.
And your least favorite? Running into the familiar faces and having awkward conversations. The multitudes of fucked up people get really annoying.
What’s the most essential thing to bring? Advil.
What’s the best advice for an Art Basel first-timer? Try to get those little pockets of sleep. Otherwise you’re running around like a chicken without a head. Stay on the health tip, stay hydrated.

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What To Wear To Art Basel
What To Wear To Art Basel