As much as it’s a music festival, Coachella is also an annual occasion for making fun of people’s outlandish looks. “People Wearing the Same Coachella Garbage Trends as Seen in Previous Years” is how the website LAist headlined its slide show of photos from the festival’s first weekend. (The festival will manifest for a second go-round this coming weekend.) Cosmopolitan’s website, in its fairly comprehensive coverage of events so far, rounded up the “28 Most Naked AF Outfits From Coachella.” Pity the poor Coachella-goer who hoped to earn a spot on Cosmo’s list of “75 Coachella Street Style Looks That Are Totally Lit” and ended up being deemed “Naked AF” instead. BuzzFeed took an interactive approach, inviting readers to vote in a post called, “Be Honest: Would You Wear These Coachella Outfits?” For all but three of the 15 outfits shown, the no votes outnumbered the yeses. The implication of all these posts, and many more like them, is: Wow, those are some silly-ass outfits.
Some of them are pretty silly. But isn’t that the fun of it? Rihanna, per Cosmo, already “won” this year’s Coachella by wearing a sequined bodysuit with an attached facemask, which sounds a whole lot like a look that could land one on a list of festival worst-dresseds if not worn alongside the crucial accessory of being Rihanna. And some of the “totally lit” attendees from Cosmo look as or more naked than the “naked AF” ones—it’s almost like dressing successfully for Coachchella is not subject to the usual rules that govern style or real life. Coachella fashion, that much-maligned beast, deserves a break.
Though cultural appropriation has been and will probably continue to be a problem at festivals like Coachella, there’s no reason to reserve the same sneer for a flower crown that you do a feathered headdress. Celebrities and normal people alike flock to Coachella to perform bohemianness, and this performance is kind of the whole point. Of course Katy Perry looks ridiculous at Coachella, bedecked in multicolored fur jacket, space-alien shades—to appear otherwise would be to fall preposterously short in her duties of being Katy Perry, pop star and national trust.
If we stipulate that Coachella is an expensive playground for rich people and celebrities and that this is a fact that’s unlikely to change, is it so bad that they want to be a part of something they think is cool, or if they’re game to dress the part of celebrity? Have fun, do you, embrace the chance to wear something kooky. Someone has to do the difficult work of wearing crazy stuff to entertain the rest of us, and personally, I’m thankful for that. Wearing weird clothes and watching other people wear weird clothes is one of the fun things (and it’s a fast-dwindling list) about being a culturally aware human. So why not take a moment this year to appreciate all the magisterial looks Coachella brings us instead of side-eyeing them? Mocking Coachella style is easy, but heavy is the head that wears the flower crown.