What to Wear to an Outdoor Summer Concert

Yesterday marked the kickoff to Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival right in my backyard of Milwaukee, Wis. This is such a fun time around the city because life seems to revolve around when certain bands are playing (a majority of the stages are free with admission), and it’s the ideal opportunity to soak up live music in a fun outdoor setting. Ryan and I try to make it to Summerfest every year, even if it’s only to indulge in some food (hello, wonton-wrapped Mozzarella sticks) and to see at least one concert – Saturday, we’re headed down to see Chris Stapleton and the Alabama Shakes. Since I’ve racked up a few years experience of trial and error of what to wear to an outdoor summer concert, I’m sharing my five best tips of what to wear and what to avoid for the best possible experience.


What to Wear to an Outdoor Summer Concert

Sleeveless tops are your best bet.
Even if it’s not the warmest day, I guarantee that you will sweat from being in the midst of crowds of people. Plus, if you’re like me and really get into it at concerts, you don’t want to worry about sweat stains showing through a short sleeve top. (Yes, these are the things I consider when getting dressed. #noshame) If you’re worried about being cold later on in the evening, grab a lightweight denim jacket – it’s easy enough to carry, tie around your waist, or swing over your purse/backpack.

Long(er) shorts or pants are a must.
Please don’t use this setting to rock your cutest summer dresses or Daisy Duke shorts. Nine times out of 10, you’ll end up sitting on a curb or in the grass with food and a drink in hand, and you don’t want your legs to get dirty or be exposed to whatever else might be floating around. Depending on the weather, boyfriend jeans always are a safe bet because they’ll keep you cool during the day but warm at night when the sun goes down. I can’t get enough of this distressed pair that I recently picked up.

Wear sneakers.
The sneaker trend is so hot right now anyways, you’ll fit right in. Plus, your feet won’t be (as) sore and they won’t be covered in dirt as they normally would be if you wore sandals. (You’re welcome) Canvas sneakers are a solid choice since you can throw them in the washing machine if they get dirty.

Keep accessories to a minimum.
I love statement jewelry as much as the next person, but you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself at a big festival or worry about one of your pieces falling off. Stick to stud earrings, a simple chain necklace, and a pair of sunnies. Also, do yourself a favor and carry a crossbody purse or backpack.

Get that hair off your face!
Again with the sweat issue, you’re better off to wear your hair half up/up or pin back the front section of your hair so it doesn’t stick to your forehead as the heat kicks in. My hair was freshly washed when we took these photos, so I opted not to follow my own advice, but a simple side braid always is an easy solution.

What to Wear to an Outdoor Summer ConcertWhat to Wear to an Outdoor Summer ConcertWhat to Wear to an Outdoor Summer Concert
tank via Olive & Oak at TJMaxx | distressed boyfriend jeans | sneakers | purse via Franco Sarto at TJMaxx | sunnies | necklace via Rocksbox (get a free month with code msinthemidwestxoxo)

So, there you go – my best tips for what to wear to an outdoor summer concert or festival. I have worn several different types of outfits and pieces to these types of events over the years, and I can guarantee you that a variation of this outfit is your foolproof ticket to stay comfortable and stylish all day and night.

Do you enjoy going to outdoor summer concerts? What do you typically like to wear?


Leave a Comment


  1. 7.6.16
    Kristy Simon said:

    Great tips – I need to get a pair of canvas sneakers! Super cute top and purse, too!

  2. 7.6.16

    Love these tips for an outdoor concert- and this makes me want to go to one! Especially since they typically last into the cooler hours of the night, love the idea of boyfriend jeans! And sneakers- definitely sneakers! This look is so cute!

    • 7.6.16

      Thanks, girlfriend! I know, when we were at Summerfest last Friday night, it cooled off SO nice. Nothing better than a perfect summer night!

  3. 7.1.16

    I love the idea of wearing a sleeveless shirt to a concert to help with tan lines too! I’ve been sitting outside too many times and gotten a funky tan because I’m wearing a tshirt. Having your hair pinned back is also a definite must! I just can’t deal with my hair down, especially on a hot day!

    • 7.6.16

      I never even thought of tan lines, good thinking! And, I think I wear my hair up more than down these days – it’s just too stinkin’ humid!

  4. 7.1.16
    Emily Dunham said:

    Excellent tips! Have so much fun!

  5. 7.1.16

    Great summer concert go-to outfit!! This is perfect!! Hope you are having a fun and festive holiday!

  6. 7.1.16
    Biana Perez said:

    Such a good point about sitting and not wanting your legs exposed – you just want to be comfortable and not hot from the heat LOL! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

  7. 6.30.16
    Regine Karpel said:
  8. 6.30.16

    Cozy and comfortable ! 😀

  9. 6.30.16
    makeupHER said:

    I couldn’t agree more! If I do a dress it’s most definitely a maxi dress! Love the idea of wearing sneakers though because flip flops or sandals will always make your feet hurt!

    • 6.30.16

      Yes! I used to be able to wear sandals/flip flops for hours on end, but I just can’t do it anymore (probably because I screwed up my feet from doing that when I was younger!). Sneakers definitely are the way to go.

  10. 6.30.16

    this is all such great advice. i haven’t been to an outdoor music festival in SO long, it’s crazy. but if i did, i would totally want to be comfy so i’d go for the boyfriend jeans and tank top too. how cool that a lot of the stages are free with admission!

    • 6.30.16

      Summerfest definitely is a shit show (lol), but it’s fun to go for at least half a day and a concert. And, the free stages usually have just as good as people as the headliner stage!

  11. 6.30.16
    Jenn said:

    Totally agree with all of these! And I love my cross body bag so it frees up my hands but I still feel like my purse is close to me!

  12. 6.30.16

    I definitely agree re: statement jewelry! It just gets in the way + makes me sooo hot to have a bunch of heavy jewelry layered on. Dainty pieces are better! 🙂

    Le Stylo Rouge

  13. 6.30.16

    Love love love music festivals – so much fun! This outfit is perfect, and I always reach for the sleeveless tops too. So much more comfortable especially in crowds of people and for dancing <3
    Green Fashionista

  14. 6.30.16
    Debra Stachelski said:

    Really cute look and some great advice on looking both stylish and comfortable for any outdoor concert! Very timely for me as you know Dad and I are headed to see JT tonight, can’t wait!! I’m going to check out the JLo jeans, (maybe not the distressed, I’m too old). One of these days I hope to make it to Summerfest, I’ve never been. That should be a great concert you guys are going to!

    • 6.30.16

      I think you would enjoy Summerfest, as long as we are going to see a headliner in the Marcus theater. I hope you have a great time at the James Taylor concert tonight, can’t wait to hear about it!