This past weekend, a friend asked me what I was wearing to Jazz Fest.
“Does it really matter?” I asked.
It’s true: The Jazz Fest dress-code is near nonexistent; black matter at best. If you’ve covered up enough to avoid incarceration for indecent exposure (and narrowly, at that), essentially all ensembles are not only socially acceptable, but, in fact, vanish into an indistinguishable hodgepodge of fashion violations, in any other context. Phish fans and the tea-time-ready, former frat bros and sugar-crazed tykes — their apparel, or rather, they, all blend and somehow seem to make sense in inharmonious juxtaposition with one another.
Maybe it’s the broad spectrum of characters the festival beckons (see photos from last weekend here); maybe it’s New Orleans’ general sense of laissez-faire that drifts in from the Mississippi and wafts through the city, but in any case, dissimilar to many other music festivals past and present — Woodstock, Coachella, Ultra, so on and so forth — there isn’t a central aesthetic or stylistic thread that weaves together the otherwise out-of-place festival fashions at Jazz Fest. And I suppose that’s what makes the festival so very New Orleanian.
The stylistic composition at Jazz Fest is so arbitrary and wonderfully random, I’d argue that, in fact, without the recognizable backdrop of the Fair Grounds during Jazz Fest, Fest-goers’ ensembles rarely indicate their relative locale.
So, if these eccentrically fashioned festers weren’t at Jazz Fest, where might they otherwise be headed?:
A Star Wars convention (where he will likely be ostracized for selecting the Chewy backpack version in lieu of the full body-suit).
A Bob Marley tribute show or Venice Beach. Hopefully both.
To an out-of-control, sugar-crazed birthday rager with Mr. Chuck E. Cheeze.
Kinko’s, for a headshot that properly fits the frame.
On an island, preparing dinner for Gilligan and the gang.
To listen to Jeremy Davenport at the Ritz Carlton’s Saturday tea time.
The other L.A.
Again, other L.A.
In the cheetah sanctuary at Audubon Zoo, circa 1968.
Bourbon Street for a disappointingly tepid reenactment of The Hangover.
Spring break in Cancun.
A week ahead of himself, at Springsteen.
Back home, where, once again, his bros will try to convince him that after 40 years of living in the frat house, it’s time to move out.
Hanging out with the Strokes in 2006, back when the acronym was still novel.
At another Phish concert, because, well…Phish fans.
Chelsea Lee is associate editor at NolaVie. Email comments to her at email@example.com.