What To Wear At SXSW
10 pros on what to pack for the festival.
Getting ready for SXSW can be a challenge. Between booking flights, finding couches to sleep on, and snagging RSVPs, it's easy to overlook the most important task of all: figuring out how to stay looking fly till the final encore. We asked ten veterans to share some tips for looking your best during the warm days and chilly nights of Austin's early spring.
VP of A&R, Mom and Pop Records. 8th year attending SXSW.
Shirt from a store in Montreal, shorts Vintage Oak Jeans, socks HUF, shoes Underground Original.
Why this outfit? This look is half of what I'm actually wearing in the winter. The shorts are always my go-to. I might wear tights depending on the weather.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? A balanced state of mind. I try doing meditation and yoga everyday, but then I get there and everything gets thrown out the window. This year I signed up for the special SXSW SoulCycle.
What else are you packing? A backpack and energy bars. For beauty, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and mascara.
What's your favorite thing about South by? Seeing friends I don't usually see. Running into everybody.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? Running into people I don't want to see.
Survival tip: Do your research. RSVP to everything. Go to the Driskill—a lot of industry people go there. If there's ever a question about attending a party, just go. I've ended up at some weird, awesome places in Austin.
Producer/DJ, Teengirl Fantasy. 3rd year attending SXSW.
Shirt Vintage Kansai Yamamoto, pants Opening Ceremony for Tron, sneakers Nike SB.
Why this outfit? SXSW is always a test of endurance. This outfit is pretty soft and low maintenance.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? Bring a fun but sort of masochistic attitude. SXSW is like a marathon.
How do you transition your look from day to night? I got this Supreme jacket that I've been feeling; I'll bring that. I'm a sweatshirt guy, so I'll be layering.
What's your favorite thing about South by? The festival signifies the beginning of spring. If you're coming from NYC, it's nice not to have to wear the heavy jackets you've been wearing and by the time you come back, it's a little warmer already.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? Rushing to set up before a show.
Survival tip: My advice to a musician playing for the first time is to have fun and don't play wack shows.
Head of Publicity, Domino Records. 7th year attending SXSW.
Shirt David Michael, bra COS, pants Vintage Guy Laroche, shoes Acne Studios, jewelry Mania Mania, hat vintage.
Why this outfit? I'll usually wear a red lip and a hat in the daytime to avoid the sun. I'm five-foot-three, so I wear heels for height factor.
How do you transition your look from day to night? I'll put on a heeled boot for nighttime events that aren't too far from my hotel.
What else are you packing? A lot of denim, heeled boots, interchangeable pieces, and minimal jewelry.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? A smile. Being friendly and approachable is the most important part of SXSW for me as a publicist.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? People complaining about how horrible it is that they have to go to SXSW. It's warm, it's the end of the winter, you're getting free drinks and shows. Stop complaining: shit is not that hard.
Survival tip: If you want to survive SXSW in heels, bring bandaids—or just stay in one venue all night.
Rapper, World's Fair. 3rd year attending SXSW.
T-shirts Dertbag, shorts Death Precision, sneakers FFP custom painted Adidas, hat New Era.
Why this outfit? I'll be running around from show to show, so comfort is important. I don't get dressed up for SXSW; I'm gonna get drunk, my clothes will get dirty and messed up. I see dudes out there in tons of leather, and I'm like why would you get your leather dusty?!
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? Headphones—they stay on me 24/7
What's your favorite thing about South by? Free BBQ and alcohol. Seeing my friends.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? The hotel expenses.
Give us one SXSW pro tip: My advice to a new rapper performing at SXSW is stay to hydrated. Stick with your friends because your cell phone service will be curtains. Hit Franklin's and Gus's Fried chicken. Go to Barton Springs, a little creek out West where you can relax, smoke, and chill by the water.
Senior Editor, Billboard. 4th year attending SXSW.
Shirt custom printed in Tracy, California; jeans H&M, sneakers Nike.
Why this outfit? I love the all-white look. I get a little nervous wearing it at SXSW—just because of the dust—but if you're careful, it's cool. I'm all about minimalism. This shirt is very much me: I'm Mexican and from Cali, so Selena is my Mexican version of Aaliyah.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? Cash for iced coffee or beer.
What else are you packing? I wanna wear my short overalls a couple of times. I sometimes forget that I'll be out all day, so I try to remember the sunblock and sunglasses. I'm not packing any high heels, but shout out to those that can do it.
How do you transition your look from day to night? If I'm running around all day, I'll just throw a light jacket—like a camo or a denim—in my bag for later.
What's your favorite thing about South by? I like to see people down there that I can't catch at SOBs.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? There's just too much going on. I always feel like I'm missing something.
Survival tip: Be chill about things. Things happen: people don't go on at their set times, so be prepared to roll with the punches.
Consultant and publicist, Electric Circus. 6th year attending SXSW.
Jacket 10xDeep, biking shorts Forever 21, shoes Tevas.
Why this outfit? My whole style is cozy girl swag. Shout out to Yams. I'm all about tomboy style and being comfortable. You never know what the weather is gonna be like, so I prefer to have my top covered and show my legs instead. The Tevas were swag last summer, so for spring, I like to pair them with socks. The socks make it a little more edgy and are great, because it's still chilly. Also, I'm not a fan of feet.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? A backpack to carry all the free stuff you'll get.
What's your favorite thing about South by? When I started, it was more about seeing the new and up-and-coming artists. But this year, it's more about attending events and mingling and networking, seeing people that you've worked with online in real life.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? Too many shows. It's so overwhelming and everything overlaps. You have to pick your battles.
Survival tip: Don't try to be too cool. Try to see the shows that you actually wanna see. If you try to fit in with what everyone else is doing, you'll be overwhelmed and disappointed.
Freelance marketing, events and consulting. 3rd year attending SXSW.
Shirt Ksubi, pants Stussy, pocket chain Alexander Wang, hat Ralph Lauren, grill Kiliani Jewelry, sneakers Puma.
Why this outfit? This look is key because it's very comfortable. The rolled-up trouser is very in this season.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? My Fossil purse that can fit my phone, my mophie, an extra T-shirt, everything. I don't like backpacks, because they get heavy and look very boyish. I can still go to the club with this bag at the end day.
How do you transition your look from day to night? The weather has changed a lot. Back in 2011 and 2012, it was hot. Last year it was cold. Bring something that's light but warm, like a cozy pullover.
What's your favorite thing about South by? The house parties.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? The fact that hotels sell out so quickly. It's so hard to find a hotel located in the dead center of the city, and if you do, it's $500 a night. Also, it's really hard to get around with the streets closed off.
Survival tip: Don't pack any sandals or heels. Take smoke breaks.
Publicist, Life or Death. 3rd year attending SXSW.
Hat ONLY NY, shirt XXBC, jeans Acne, sneakers Nike.
Why this outfit? My look is the same all the time. I'm usually an all-black/gray T-shirt dude. I just got these sneakers. They're pretty subtle, but they're the only pink/purple items that I own.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? Extra socks. Bring more socks that you think you'll need.
How do you transition your look from day to night? I'll usually throw a flannel in my bag, since it gets so chilly. I suggest you bring a spare T-shirt, in case you sweat through one; SXSW is not the cleanest place.
What's your favorite thing about South by? Free beer. Not having to be in front of my computer all the time. Seeing my homies from Austin.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? I don't like to wait in line. Being on my feet all day is tough. By day 3, i'm looking for a couch.
Survival tip: It was good to just get away from the crowd. Me and the Life or Death homies usually rent a car and drive out to Lockhart, an hour our of Austin, and do a big meal. They have the best BBQ there.
Staff Writer, Grantland. 4th year attending SXSW.
Shirt Trader Bay Vintage, shorts Hanes, T-shirt Fruit of the Loom, socks Dockers, sneakers Nike, fanny pack Express [concealed].
Why this outfit? This look is about function. I wore it multiple times last year. I don't like having a backpack with me, so having shorts and multiple shirts with pockets is great. I always wear high black socks when I wear shorts. People hate on me because I wear wool socks all year round, but they're more comfortable and cushiony, and they help me get through a day of being on my feet.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? For me, it's a fanny pack. I got mine last year at the last minute, and now that I have it, I'm able to exist at SXSW totally hands-free. I sometimes forget that I'm even wearing it because I wear a long shirt over it. I can whip it out if I need something and then conceal it again.
What else are you packing? I always bring two pairs of cheap shades, as I'll lose one. I always keep a pen and a notepad in my fanny pack; whether I'm writing down an address for meeting up with someone later that day, or I'm trying to report and all my devices die, being able to go analog a little bit is still important.
Survival tip: This was knowledge passed down to me by a former SXSW vet: be careful of your dairy intake. There are tacos and cheese everywhere in Austin. Every two or three days, go to that PF Changs and get a lettuce wrap, eat something that has nothing to do with BBQ, burritos, and tacos. Because if you keep up that diet, your body will go back to NY, but your soul will stay in Austin forever. I know that Taco Bell Hut, and my body has killed me for going there everyday.
Vocalist, Sick Feeling. 3rd year attending SXSW.
Shirt Vintage, jeans A.P.C., sneaker Adidas.
Why this outfit? I got this T-shirt on tour in Pittsburgh. These jeans are one fuck-up away from being not functional.
What's the most essential thing to bring to Austin? No hope. If you're not already a famous artist, SXSW will beat the love of music out of you.
What else are you packing? One pair of jeans, one pair of shorts.
What's your favorite thing about South by? Nothing.
What's your least favorite thing about South by? Talking to people my own age who now work in music but used to really love music.
Survival tip: Don't go. SXSW is rapidly becoming skippable.