SXSW Survival Guide

By Ashley Hargrove – March 13, 2013
Brian Fitzsimmons

As a wardrobe stylist and Austinite with a few SXSWs under my belt, I wanted to share my survival guide for what to pack and wear during the week. While wanting to be stylish is extremely important for most fashion forward male and female SXSW goers, there are many other crucial variables to consider while standing for hours outside in the unpredictable Texas weather. Take it from me: comfort is key!

General outfit tips

Men — Stick with some relaxed-fit denim; this piece of clothing can get you through the day and into the evening easily. Pair your jeans with a t-shirt or lightweight button down during the day, transitioning to a darker colored, tailored shirt, belt, and an awesome watch for the evening’s events. Complete your look with a pair of boots or shoes that are comfortable yet stylish so they can be worn in different social situations. Don’t be afraid to stash a pair of Vibrams or sandals in your bag for even more comfort during the day, just in case!

Women — Dresses are the most convenient option for any scene, day or night. Just throw on a dress, a small belt, sandals, a hat, and a messenger bag and you are ready to go. To transition into evening, slip on a pair of wedges and a fun blazer or jacket, and style your hair up or into a braid with a headband. Don’t forget your sunnies! I recommend checking out Y&I Clothing Boutique on South Congress for your SXSW needs.


No matter what else you opt to wear for the day, make sure you have comfortable shoes. I have known many fashionistas who go walking the streets of SXSW in high heels only to be complaining and wanting to go home merely an hour later. Most people are out and about for 12 to 16 hours (or more!) per day, and many of the events are far apart, which means lots of walking. You will log several miles on your feet during the week, so definitely make comfy shoes a top priority when getting dressed. Find a great pair of Vibram FiveFingers, Toms, flip-flops, or other comfortable shoes to save your feet.


Don’t forget about the crazy Texas weather. The highs in March tend to hit the mid 70s and drop into the 50s in the evening, which means you’ll need to layer appropriately. When layering, choose items that could transition into the night for the dressier party scene, something that you won’t mind carrying around during the day. My recommendation is to find a lightweight, non-wrinkling jacket that can easily be crammed into your backpack; even if it is sunny and 75 when you set out, slip this garment in your bag so you won’t be tempted to go back home or to your hotel to change after the day’s festivities. That trip can be very time consuming, which could cause you to waste precious moments or hours and miss something important. Be prepared for the entire day and night.


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