Summer stretches out before us, and on most of our social calendars there's a number of outdoor festivals booked in. A music festival can turn most women into a blithering mess, standing in front of their wardrobe trying to answer that elusive question: "What should I wear?" Case in point, me, this year, on the morning of the Big Day Out. In the past I had always smartly sorted my outfit a few days before, but for some reason this year I did not. Which led to a monumental mistake: wearing a summer dress.
I think in the back of my mind I imagined myself lying on the grass in the sunshine near the smaller stages, listening to Kate Nash's quirky pop, or dancing in a field of daisies to Bjork's electro, with my dress swinging around me. But, um, that didn't happen. I was hot, cold, sweaty, sunburned and exposed a lot more than I wanted to. It also put paid to any plans of standing close to any stage. I had nightmarethoughts of my dress riding up around my waist while a rock bogan squashed up to me on one side and a skinny indie guy sweated off his lunch in a pair of skinny jeans on the other. Not exactly my idea of a fun Big Day Out.
Learn from my mistake. If you're lucky enough to be attending any of the many music festivals on offer this summer, whether it be the three-day festival that is Rhythm and Vines, Christian music festival Parachute, or dance festival Summerdayze, decide what you're going to wear early.
And if you're one of those people who claims that music festivals are "all about the music", well, you're wrong. Trust me, half the fun of being at the Big Day Out is checking out what the rest of the crowd are wearing, whether it be Tool T-shirts or Lily Allen lookalike dresses and sneakers (both seen in 2007). And more importantly, dressing for a music festival is, well, fun.
Festival dressing has taken on a life of its own in the past few years, with the English becoming increasingly obsessed with the phenomenon. I put the blame squarely at the feet of Kate Moss, who has turned the simple act of attending a festival into a veritable fashion parade. Each year the entire world eagerly awaits her Glastonbury outfit, which in the past has included denim short shorts, a gold dress, PVC pants and always a pair of Hunter Wellington gumboots. Of course, she's not the only one that the press salivate over during festival season. "It" girls try and out "it" themselves in a range of outlandish outfits.
Daisy Lowe wore a pair of latex pants at Glastonbury this year while Pixie Geldof was spotted in a full-length bodysuit. Dita Von Teese wore a patterned playsuit, tiny straw hat and a white umbrella at the Coachella festival. And Lily Allen was photographed at Glastonbury in 2007 wearing a hot pink Luella prom dress, which she teamed elegantly with a pair of gumboots. I actually quite liked this look, as it seemed like she was sort of taking the piss out of the whole Glasto-chic thing.
Of course, if you have backstage access and unlimited funds, you can pretty much wear whatever you like at a music festival. For the rest of us who have to sweat it out among the crowds, something a tad more realistic is in order. The best festival outfits are usually the most simple, and usually consist of the three S's: shorts, a singlet and sneakers. I suggest taking that failsafe formula and making it your own with accessories. A quirky belt, a cute hat, hippie chick headband, offbeat sunglasses (always take cheap ones as you will probably drop them), and an interesting bag can make all the difference. Of course, if you want to dress up in fairy wings, paint yourself green or wear PVC pants, go right ahead.
Another option is when you get there, head straight for the stalls and pick yourself out the most stylish pieces du jour. New festival label Epiphany has been selling its socks off - well, actually its quirky T-shirts and funky dresses from a range of international designers - at all the big festivals in Australia. Find them in New Zealand at Rhythm and Vines and Womad.
The beauty of festival fashion reflects the beauty of music festivals themselves: a random mix of genres and acts sitting alongside each other and somehow working. But what genre are you? Find out with our festival typology.
Wears: plaid, ripped denim, bodices, lace, anything by Stolen Girlfriends Club.
Your icon: Courtney Love circa 1995, model Alice Dellal.
Who you should see: the godfather of grunge, Neil Young at Big Day Out.
Wears: leather, jeans, black Ray-Bay wayfarers, black, accessorised with an angry stare.
Your icon: Kate Moss, at any festival, any year, in any outfit.
Who you should see: TV on the Radio (Big Day Out), Franz Ferdinand (Rhythm and Vines), The Checks (Homegrown).
Wears: headbands, fringing, daisy chains, gladiator sandals, peace signs, a loving aura.
Your icon: Gucci's Frida Giannini - her autumn 2008 collection helped kickstart the trend. Or the Mamas and the Papas' Michelle Phillips.
Who you should see: Ziggy Marley (Raggamuffin), or any of the 50 bands at Camp a Low Hum. They don't announce the line-up until you're there, and the festival is set in 240ha of native bush.
Wears: coloured sunglasses, leggings, oversized T-shirts, loud prints, unbrushed hair.
Your icon: any of the LA hipsters who appear on party photo website TheCobraSnake.com, or LA celebrities at music festival Coachella.
Who you should see: Steve Aoki (Summerdayze) - he's the king of the LA clubscene.
Wears: florals, fairy wings, prom dresses, funny glasses - often heart-shaped, a naive look (this is usually their very first festival experience and they will be cursing themselves for wearing the wrong shoes).
Your icon: Lily Allen.
Who you should see: The Ting Tings (Big Day Out), The Kooks (Rhythm and Vines).
Wears: stripes, skinny jeans, hats, boyfriend shirts, Converse trainers, a fringe.
Your icon: Alexa Chung at Glastonbury, in a striped top, high-waisted denim shorts, panama hat, knee-high socks and gumboots.
Who you should see: Santogold (Rhythm and Vines), Brain Slaves (Homegrown), The Brunettes (Shore Sounds) and the Arctic Monkeys (Big Day Out), simply because we're praying Alexa comes along for the trip (she's dating frontman Alex Turner).By Zoe Walker Email Zoe