Lilith Wear All-day outdoor concerts can be hot, sticky, dirty and damp.You'll need a survival suit to suffer the humidity in style.

July 16, 1998|By Tamara Ikenberg: SUN STAFF

Rock stars aren't the best role models, especially when it comes to outdoor summer concert wear.

At the sticky HFStival in Washington in May, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones wore full, dark zoot suits, and select B52s sported sequins, stockings and spiked heels.

They looked cool, but you can be sure they didn't feel that way. Do not take your summer concert fashion cue from the performers. They're getting paid to put on those get-ups.

You, on the other hand, paid to watch them in those get-ups and need to be a tad more practical.

The all-day summer festival can become a fiasco if you're not prepared. You could pass out, or, even worse, sit on spilled beer.

To avoid such pitfalls, we offer the gal's ultimate guide to outdoor concert chic.

Sorry guys, just take off your shirts and frolic about as usual, WITH SUNSCREEN!!!

This primer is just in time, what with Sarah McLachlan's summer love-in, Lilith Fair, coming this weekend to Merriweather Post Pavilion, and the H.O.R.D.E. and Vans Warped tours along with a bevy of other outdoor shows following on its platform heels.

Summer concert veterans and fashion and health experts have seen practically every do and don't in the book and can help make your festival experience as pleasant as possible.

Remember, a lot depends on your personal fashion and concert-going style.

Are you a mosher or a mellower? Are you built for a string bikini? Or does a loose blouse suit you better?

"At some point, you're going to have to forgo some kind of fashion for function," says Jimmy Hanrahan, senior wardrobe stylist at MTV.

But that doesn't mean with a little common sense and creativity, you can't be hygienic, comfortable and stylin' for an extended period of time in the stifling humidity with thousands of other people all with their own unique odors.

Take it from the top

Let's start from the top, with hats. Elizabeth Kiester, fashion editor for Jane magazine, a fashion, entertainment and lifestyle publication aimed at women ages 18-34, suggests light, floppy fisherman or straw hats that protect your face as well as your scalp. These lids lend an alternative Annie Hall look without the scourge of hat hair. And of course, the trusty baseball cap never fails, though you will experience hat hair.

If your 'do is just too must-see to hide, you still need to shield your precious little scalp from the rays.

Jane Larkworthy, Jane's beauty director, suggests that in addition to or as a substitute for your regular styling products, comb sunscreen through wet hair. This will protect your scalp and look sleek. But remember to use gel sunscreen, because cream-based screens can be messy, Larkworthy says.

If your hair is long, Larkworthy suggests wearing it in braids. Not the Pippi Longstocking look, but two braids from the lower back of your head.

And no matter what your hair length, Larkworthy also recommends an anti-humectant to fend off the frizz.

As far as makeup goes, this is not the time to emulate pancake-faced Cure frontman Robert Smith.

"If you need a full face of makeup to go see a band, you have other issues. The money you spent on that ticket should've gone for therapy, " Hanrahan says. "Just go natural or don't go at all."

Larkworthy says a bit of waterproof mascara and SPF-enhanced lip balm should do just fine. But if you're the type who simply can't cope without foundation, use a light one, and mix it with sunscreen or make sure it also has some SPF value.

And how can you possibly face the rays without shades? For this year's summer festivals, Kiester touts geometric glasses with color-tinted lenses, even though these trendy glasses are not particularly known for blocking bright sun.

She particularly prefers yellow, because, "it makes everything sunny and bright and happy."

Covered up, but cool

Now that you've checked your head, hair and face, let's get down to body basics.

"The first rule is to leave your black club clothes at home," says Donna Westmoreland, director of marketing and business development for Lilith Fair, who is attending every date. Westmoreland recalls black-leather-clad alterna- kids "dropping like flies" at the first Lollapalooza Festival.

Instead of a one piece ensemble, like a dress or a cat suit, Hanrahan suggests trying a combo of bikini top, shorts, and an overshirt; layers you can peel off or pile on during the course of the day.

As far as tops are concerned, little tank tops, camisoles, T-shirts and light blouses are all possibilities.

Though a light color scheme is ideal, white is a bad idea, because whether it's sweat, beer or randomly spritzed water, chances are, you will get wet, Hanrahan adds. So, unless you want to go around looking like a wet T-shirt contest entrant, leave the underwear exposure to the rock stars.

You know those annoyingly fit and perky bikini-topped babes you see at every concert? The ones who weigh three pounds and don't show the slightest hint of sagging? Well, you can rest assured those toned tormentors are sizzling hot in both senses of the word.

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