What To Wear At SXSW

12 pros tell us what they’re packing for Austin.

Photographer The FADER
What To Wear At SXSW

SXSW begins in Austin next week, which means you should have already booked your flight, found a place to crash, and RSVP'd to all the right events.

Now it's time to start thinking about what you're going to throw in your suitcase before running to the airport. We asked festival veterans, and a few music biz experts who are SXSW noobs this year, what they'll be wearing in Austin. Their advice? Pack light, pack comfy, and most importantly, pack fun.




Emily Crist

Executive assistant, The FADER
Years at SXSW: 2

What To Wear At SXSW Free People top, karate pants from Salvation Army, CAT boots.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

Comfort is first and foremost! Wear shoes that you can trudge around in and get dusty. Wearing white is to celebrate getting out of the New York winter.

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What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

Sunscreen and earplugs.

What To Wear At SXSW

What else are you packing?

My pet lizard.

What's your favorite thing about SXSW?

It's one big slumber party with friends you don't get to see often. Also, you get to see the shows you were too tired or lazy to catch in N.Y.C.




Jonas Leon

Talent buyer, S.O.B’s
Years at SXSW: 3

What To Wear At SXSW H&M swim trunks, Van Heusen polo, Vans sneakers.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

Swim trunks because it’s good ventilation. I’m pretty much commando, honestly. It’s pretty hot, and you walk around a lot, and I prefer the swim trunks. And this is my favorite shirt. I feel the most confident in it.

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What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

A Mophie case for your phone.

What else are you packing?

I’m bringing a bunch of socks, probably one more pair of shorts, and a jacket. And extra patience to deal with the B.S. out there. That’s important.

What To Wear At SXSW

What's your favorite thing about SXSW?
Just kicking it with my friends, and my homies from London and L.A. who come out.

Survival tip:
Hit your plug a week in advance. Drink hella blue Gatorade, and stay with your friends.




Annie Chen

Director of marketing and publicity, Mass Appeal Records
Years at SXSW: 3

What To Wear At SXSW Vintage Levi's jacket, BDG pants, BDG hat, Nike shoes, thrifted fishnet shirt.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

I’m all about being comfortable. I usually wear booties or anything with a platform, but South by is a place where you just need to wear sneakers. You’re going to be walking around and standing around all the time.

What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

External battery. B12 vitamins. Cash, in case some of the vendors are cash only. Gum, because you’re going to be talking to a lot of people.

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What else are you packing?

T-shirts. Wipes...definitely going to have wipes. Just in case! You’re going to get dirty. Your shoes will get dirty, your hands will get dirty.

What's your favorite thing about SXSW?

Seeing all the familiar faces and being able to discover new talent. It's almost like band camp, you know? You go once a year to see people, and see what other people are working on in the industry.

What's your least favorite thing about SXSW?

You try to fit everything in but you can’t. All the good shows happen all at the same time, so you have to pick and choose.

Survival tip:

Plan your schedule ahead of time. It’s probably not going to happen the way you want it to, but at least you have a sense of what’s going on, and you can select your top shows that you want to go to. Drink a lot of water in between shows. Take B12! And have fun out there!




Devona Sharpe

Demand Generation lead, “industry wife”
Years at SXSW: 1

What To Wear At SXSW GStar overalls, American Apparel top, Celine jacket, Rainbow flats.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

My shoes—they’re like these little cheap shoes from Rainbow that are the most comfortable things ever. I wore them at Governors Ball all day, never had sore feet. I’ll have some layers on, so that throughout the day I can take things off, put them on. I’m also pretty active so you’re never really going to catch me in a skirt at all-day things Overalls are very functional, lots of pockets.

What's the most essential thing to bring to a festival?

Chapstick and lotion. Ash is not what you wanna be thinking about. Wanna keep it fly, keep it together.

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What else are you packing?

A purse. I like to carry a separate little digital camera instead of my phone, because it saves battery.

What are you most excited about for SXSW?

The overall experience. It's my first time going, but my husband's talked about it for like the past nine years. So I guess just finally getting to be there is what I’m looking forward to the most. And getting some sun. I hope I get enough sun that I actually turn purple before I come back.

Survival tip:

Don’t be the person that’s passed out at 11 a.m. Pace yourself. We’ve all been to college.




Ric Leichtung

Founder, AdHoc
Years at SXSW: 9

What To Wear At SXSW Doc Martens boots, Levi's jeans, “I don’t know where anything else comes from.”  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

It’s practical. I just dress how I normally do, but then make sure that I bring a watch because my phone dies. That’s the whole thing at South by—it’s a scramble to make sure that your phone is still alive, you still get service, you still have a little screen that tells you where all the showcases are.

What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

A watch. You could get two Mophie chargers, but your phone is still gonna die.

What else are you packing?

A hoodie is good for rain. It gets cold at night. Boots. I think a lot of people are like, “Oh, just wear like a shitty pair of sneakers and you’ll be set.” No, it gets so muddy. So muddy. You can’t fuck with that.

What To Wear At SXSW

Survival tip:

Don’t carry a lot. All that bullshit they hand out to you? Nobody needs that. You don’t need another pair of sunglasses, or another branded water bottle, or a USB key. They give away shit like that everywhere. It’s all garbage. Don’t take anything.

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Tyler Jones

Photo intern, The FADER
Years at SXSW: 1

What To Wear At SXSW Sonia Rykiel frames, Moschino T-shirt, Tommy Hilfiger jeans, Frye boots.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

These pants are pretty baggy and loose-fitting, and so is my top. I just want to be as comfy as possible but still stunt!

What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

A pair of your best shades and a portable phone charger.

What else are you packing?

Loads of cameras and film. Mad comfy clothes.

What are you most excited for at SXSW?

Seeing my friends perform, seeing friends that I don't get see a lot. Vibing and meeting new people.

What is your favorite thing about festivals?

Getting hip to new bands and rappers.

Survival tip:
Stay hydrated. Stay with your friends, and get to events early enough for free drinks!




Nick Passarelli

Head of radio promotion, Terrorbird Media
Years at SXSW: 2

What To Wear At SXSW COS shirt, Opening Ceremony pants, the rest is thrifted.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

I’m wearing blue, which is uncommon for me. I wear all black pretty much all the time. Wearing blue is like, symbolic of me going to a festival, and putting on a look. This is an excuse for me to try something new.

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What else are you packing?
Less than I think I should, because I always overpack. I always end up with like three pairs of shoes that just weigh me down.

What To Wear At SXSW

What's your favorite thing about South by?

It’s like a vacation. It’s a vacation from New York. I get to get some Vitamin D, and chill with people that I know and like.

What's your least favorite thing?

The complainers. The people who are there who are like, “South by sucks, I had to get sent here to have fun but I’m gonna complain about it the whole time.” Just, have fun and don’t be a brat. Also the fear of missing out. Like, by going to one party you’re missing out on, like, Kanye showing up to this other party. It’s not a good mindset to be in when you’re constantly chasing the ideal thing to be doing in that moment.

Survival tip:

Pick one thing to do, pick one show to go to, commit to that, and commit to having fun. Don't worry about what else you could be seeing or doing.




Vanessa Gomez and Elizabeth Skadden

Drummer and bassist/vocalist, WALL
Years at SXSW: 1 for Gomez, 20 for Skadden

What To Wear At SXSW Skadden: Soft Spot sandals, J. Crew jeans, linen top from hippy store, necklace and ring from Guanajuato.  
What To Wear At SXSW Gomez: Converse shoes, Levi's jeans, screen-printed band tee.  

Why this outfit?

SKADDEN: Sandals are important. It gets really really hot, and it’s a bummer to wear socks and shoes. Pants are really important when you’re playing shows because you can put your cell phone in your back pocket, and keys and stuff, so you’re not worried about that. The top is linen.

What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

SKADDEN: Our instruments. A bathing suit.

GOMEZ: Our guitarist said Gold Bond, to stay dry.

What To Wear At SXSW
What To Wear At SXSW

What's your favorite thing about SXSW?

SKADDEN: I actually love seeing like 30 bands in a row, which is weird. I usually get a bike and just kind of roll around to stuff. I love seeing bands in the day. I love that you can just go and sit outside and drink and watch a band and you can just leave and come back. I like that it’s so open.

GOMEZ: I hate music festivals and seeing bands during the day, but I love all the free stuff. The photo booths, and the stupid free things.

Survival tips:

SKADDEN: Drink water. Try not to drive if you can. Definitely go to the after parties, ‘cause those will be super fun.

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GOMEZ: Absolutely do not drive. RSVP to shit really early.

SKADDEN: Yeah, you should definitely just RSVP to anything because then you can decide. It’ll just hit you, like, you’ll be out at 2 a.m. and someone will be like “Let’s go to this thing!” and you’ll already have RSVP’d. It sucks if you can’t go.




Rami Haykal

Founder, PopGun presents
Years at SXSW: 6

What To Wear At SXSW Uniqulo pants, Aldo boots, Zara jacket.  
What To Wear At SXSW

Why this outfit?

I really like Rod Stewart, and especially Hot Legs. It was just a thing that I found at a store and it feels kind of summery, breezy. Whenever you go down to Austin you might as well take off everything.

What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin?

Advil, plenty of water bottles, and comfortable shoes.

What's your least favorite thing about SXSW?
Crowds and lines. And a lot of bands are rushed onstage and offstage, so not all of the bands sound great, or don’t feel like they’ve been given the chance to perform their best set.

Survival tip:

Don’t start too early.




Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman

Guitarist and drummer, Diet Cig
Years at SXSW: 1

What To Wear At SXSW Bowman: Antler & Woods hat, Blundtstone boots, Levi's jeans, vintage shirt.  
What To Wear At SXSW Luciano: Vintage Wrangler shorts, H&M top, handmade T-shirt, HUF hat with handmade patch, pin from Big Bud Press, Vans sneakers.  

Why this outfit?

BOWMAN: I honestly wear this every day. These are like the only pair of pants that I own. And boots that are comfy. I change my shirt, and underwear, and socks, but it’s pretty much this.

LUCIANO: Because I can’t shred without my sneakers on, I just like the comfiest best shoes, and the shorts because everyone says it’s gonna be super hot. Also long sleeves underneath because I don’t actually know what it’s gonna be like. Because we’ve never been there.

What else are you packing?

BOWMAN: Nalgenes. A lot of T-shirts. I sweat through a lot of T-shirts so I just have like, a bowl of T-shirts.

LUCIANO: I have like eight pairs of shorts that I’m bringing. I got cool patterns, checkered and stuff.

What To Wear At SXSW

What are you most excited for at SXSW?

BOWMAN: The insanity. We’re playing 11 or 12 shows, and there are interviews and sessions.

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LUCIANO: I’m terrified. It’s gonna be super crazy fun. I’m pumped to see all of our friends that we don’t really get to see that often. I hope we can even run into them because we’re so busy. But I’m excited for the hustle. We just got this new dolly for our gear that we painted pink and blue, so I’m pumped to strut down the street with our pink and blue dolly. I wanna go to Barton Springs. I’m ready to show off my favorite bikini and be like “Sup music industry, this is me.”


Survival tips:

BOWMAN: Bring a change of shirt. And water. Keep count of you gear. Know how many things you have, because it’s so easy to lose stuff.

LUCIANO: Stick deodorant in your pedal bag. Nalgenes. If Nalgene wants to sponsor us, we’d love to hang.




What To Wear At SXSW