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  • Writer's pictureJessica Taylor Yates

Dressing up is back, and I’m totally here for it

Stylers, Swifties and Barbiecore? Well Barbie, we’re just getting started.

Margot Robbie in a still from the Barbie movie
Image: Warner Bros.

Something is afoot in fashion of late, and for the first time since straight leg jeans were cancelled, I’m not mad about it. I’m not talking about cut-outs, the return of the visible g-banger or cargo pants at work – I did those in the early 2000s, I’m not ready to relive the trauma. But I’m talking about event dressing, and how it’s totally back in 2023.

Perhaps done with the drabby tracksuits we wore for approximately 4567 days on repeat in lockdown, news of concerts, movie premieres, trips and stage shows have us not just dressing nicely, but totally getting in theme.

‘Concert fashion,’ or ‘event dressing,’ is having a moment in 2023, from getting creative on the DIY glue gun to the purchase of brand new ‘fits to showcase on the gram.

While theme dressing is nothing new – from pearls and cone bras to see Madonna to rocking an (admittedly, Hufflepuff) robe to see Harry Potter, it has definitely hit new heights after the pandemic.

On TikTok, the phrase ‘concert outfits’ has already had 26 billion views in the last year, while a search for ‘Eras tour outfit ideas’ has over 36 million results on Google.

So, what’s with the resurgence of theme dressing? Please allow me to present my Hard News Analysis.

We Never Go Out of Style

When the world’s boyfriend Harry Styles came Down Under for his Love On tour earlier this year, gone was the 'jeans and a nice top' aesthetic to the concerts of yore. Instead, Stylers decided to get in on the action, attending in their best Harry... Style (thank you, I’ll be here all week).

The singer and actor, noted for his flamboyant, unisex style of flared pants, bold prints, sequined fabrics and feather boas, inspired a legion of fans into his very own Stylers.

The hashtag #loveontouroutfit trended on Instagram and TikTok during the musician's visit, with concert goers proudly showing off their creative contraptions, from homemade sequin jumpsuits and decorated cowboy hats, to vintage paisley flares and bold fringe accessories.

And why not? Not a single concert goer could be accused of going Out of Style.

Girls at the Harry Styles concert in costume
So much regret in not attending. Image: BBC.

Look What You Made Me Do

While Taylor Swift is yet to bring her spectacular Eras tour Down Under (no, I didn’t get tickets, and no, I’m not ready to talk about it), the sold-out concert spectacular is already on social feeds around the world, with fans eagerly dressing up in their favourite Taylor ‘era.’

There’s the comfy girl vibe in cardigans from Folklore, and the black leather-clad fans reppin’ Reputation.

Then there's Swifties decked in recognisable outfits from film clips like colourful business attire and red mini dresses from ME! to sequin gowns from Fearless. Personal favourites have to be the ones who come as song lyrics, with the #1 pick being those who come as a crumpled-up piece of paper (look, #iykyk).

woman dressed as crumpled up piece of paper at eras tour
Obvious winner. Absolutely no notes. Video: @warwickswiftsoc

Other fans simply have gone all out on creative DIY fandom, decorating denim jackets, shoes, accessories and clothing with Eras-edition art and motifs to celebrate their night at the show.

Taylor swift fans eras show
Legit have not accepted that I don't have tickets. Planning my outfit as we speak. Image: Today.

I’m A Barbie Girl

Last but hopefully not least, we’ve seen the explosion of pink that the Barbie movie has had on the world stage, from attendees to movie sessions dressing in all pink, to department store windows, restaurants and make-up companies all getting in on the Barbie fandom. Barbiecore is a total vibe, with pink totally the new black.

barbie movie premiere with margot robbie
Life in plastic, it's fantastic. Image: LA Times

What’s with the dress ups?

While groups of devoted fans have always had a soft spot for getting in theme – think Comic Con, kids at Disney movie sessions like Frozen, or anyone who dressed up as their favourite Spice Girl in their bedroom in the 90s – dressing in theme is a creative form of expression. It allows fans to not only feel connected to the performer or event they are going to see, but to feel part of a group or community again, especially after so long apart during the lockdown years while rocking a spectacular, stand-out outfit.

Plus, there's something so fun about that teen feeling of truly just loving an artist or band so wholly and completely. Think the streets lined for The Beatles, crying at the thought of meeting Hanson, or me lining up for nine hours for Robbie Williams tickets, and another nine hours to be front row because I truly, truly believed I would be the one in the audience he would pick to pash on stage (look, it was a different time).

In an article for the BBC, stylist and photographer Rosanna Elettra says she believes it is a mix of wanting to feel a part of the tour, a connection to the star or event, and part of a community.

“After extended periods of social isolation and the rising cost of living, fans are looking to maximise their experience, and dressing up in homage to their favourite artists is part of this experience. They want to feel part of the tour and then share it online with other fans,” she told the publication.

The stand out colours and vibrant hues aren’t just fun to look at in front of a stage or when posing for a picture at a movie theatre – there’s a psychology behind colour and how it affects our mood. The idea of ‘dopamine dressing’ – wearing bright, colourful or patterned clothing that sparks joy - really took off after the pandemic, in a way for people to use fashion to facilitate feelings of joy, happiness, and individualism in their every day lives.

Celebrate good times

At the end of the day, if dressing up is not for you, no one is going to boot you out of the show for wearing your comfy leggings and sweater combo if that’s what you prefer. But there’s nothing wrong with getting in theme, showing appreciation for an artist or event, and sharing this creativity with an arts community. Why not?

Fashion, like song, cinema, writing, and design is an artform, and if the latest trend of sparkles, glitter and celebration of individual creativity puts a smile on your dial, then that’s all that matters!

Now excuse me. I have to go plan my outfits for Barbenheimer.


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