What to wear to a (Shakespeare) festival

Do you love how every fashion magazine and clothing website can’t wait to get us all suited up for “festivals”? As though each woman in America is ready to throw on a $1200 boho gown and go experiment with hallucinogenics for three days in a muddy field.

While alt-music festivals may be the provision of hipsters and college students, a woman with a busy, muddy life may well find herself at any number of other 3-day affairs where she wants to look and feel her best.

In this case, I’m writing about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Like Utah and Colorado, this theater festival truly is world class. I want to give a nod to their efforts by looking good, but I don’t want to draw attention to myself by being too fancy.

Day 1:


Activities: Travel, checking in, lunch out, exploring the town, matinee production of Twelfth Night.

For the first day I planned upscale casual. We didn’t have an evening production to go to, so nice jeans, my Sanctuary jacket and the trusty Fryes were sharp but not fancy.

Day 2:

Perfect for sitting around and yammering about the impact of set design on the quality of a play
Perfect for sitting around and yammering about the impact of set design on the quality of a play

Activities: Morning walk, rock climbing, lunch and dinner out, matinee of Vietgone, evening production of The River Bride.

Because of the extremes in the day’s schedule, I needed two outfits, and had to change quickly as we’d be pushing it to get from the rock gym, through lunch and into the theater for a 1:00 matinee. A t-shirt and my Athleta joggers got me through the morning.

This wrap dress was perfect. It moves well and walks the line between dressed up and easy that I strive for. I’d let you know the brand but I found it second hand, and the tags had been cut out. We’ll just call it DVF. Why not? The sandals are Naturalizer, incredibly comfortable with just the right amount of height.

Day 3



Activities: Morning run, write in cafe, long walk in Lithia park, lunch and dinner out, matinee of Yeoman of the Guard, evening production of Roe.

The weather was hot this day, but I was going to be spending as much of my time in air-conditioned theaters and restaurants as I would outside.

For this day, I pulled out my favorite Patagonia summer dress. The halter top, low back and color make it elegant, but the fabric is casual. I carried a camel colored cashmere wrap with me, which feels exactly like a snuggly blanket. (Let’s be honest, it it a snuggly blanket)

The final analysis:

This little wardrobe was great, taking me from hot, sunshine-filled jaunts on the sidewalks of a quaint little town, into soulful theater experiences. The only thing I hadn’t anticipated was that breakfast at the hotel turned out to be quite a social affair. We stayed at the Ashland Springs, along with a number of other theater goers, and always wound up chatting over the plays. By day three I wished I had something other than my climbing-chalk-covered Athleta pants and one t-shirt for mornings. I’ll make appropriate changes for the next time.


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