Ultimate SXSW Packing Guide with Blogger Monica Dimperio

Monica Dimperio
Ultimate SXSW Packing Guide with Blogger Monica Dimperio
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Monica Dimperio is a writer/street style photographer and founder/Editor in Chief  of TheMidWasteland.com, a Chicago-based fashion, lifestyle, and culture website. Since its inception in 2007, the site has been recognized by noteworthy publications such as The New York Times and Chicago Tribune. Monica is considered a style expert, a trend hunter, and a prominent figure in Chicago’s fashion community.

You know you’ve landed in Texas the minute someone calls you ma’am and holds the door for you. It’s an eye-opener—even for someone who hails from the Midwest, like me. That alone sets the tone for your Austin experience, where manners are in abundance.

Known to the rest of the state as its creative epicenter, you’ll quickly realize that it has the ability to hold that title throughout the the U.S. Home to University of Texas—Austin, this college town is spilling over with culture, energy, and a vibrant emerging music scene. Young transplants and locals alike fill the streets, exemplifying the “Keep Austin Weird” mantra. The style follows suit, with locals wearing anything that keeps them cool (the weather is a humid 70-something all year) and looking unique. You’ll see everything from hipsters with blue hair to new-school cowboys in their worn-in boots. Anything goes!

The beloved SXSW music festival is generally located in the downtown district, but events span throughout the city so it’s important to pack outfits that will carry you from that pool party at noon to the secret show in someone’s basement at 1 a.m. That means a comfortable pair of shoes is key. Another must-have: a trusty tote bag to hold all of your essentials (sunglasses, flats, and a phone charger) since you never knew when you’ll have a chance to get back to your hotel because something is always going on. That said, it’s best to keep your makeup bag to a minimum. A great cleanser,  concealer, mascara, lipgloss, and bronzer should do the trick. If you want to make a beauty statement, get a fun mani before you go.

Have a few hours to kill between shows and panels? Head to the South Congress nabe—you won’t regret it. For me, it was love at first site. There are vintage shops a-plenty and a food truck trailer park with amazing southern (read: fried) delights. Have a cocktail by the pool at the Hotel San Jose while you’re there. The vintage ambiance will make you never want to go back home.

Unlike music festivals that are confined within a gated area, SXSW provides a ton of freedom to roam the city and have an insane amount of fun. Just remember to pace yourself. It’s an exhausting week but worth every second.

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Sweating is inevitable at SXSW. All the dancing and walking you do will make sure of it. The best way to stay fresh all week long is to bring along a deep, down-to-the-pores face cleanser. This one not only washes away the festival-grime but also helps minimize shine throughout the day. Olay Fresh Effects {Shine, Shine Go Away!} Shine Minimizing Cleanser; $6.99; at olay.com

Ditch your cutoffs for this music fest. The best way mix comfort with style and go from day tonight is with a chic pair of high-waisted, silky shorts. The girly polka dot pattern will help you stand out in the sea of music junkies wearing concert t’s. Urban Outfitters Fire Polka Dot Pull-On Short; $39.00; at urbanoutfitters.com

Chic crop tops are everywhere this spring. Kick off the trend while keeping it fun and casual with a lightweight denim. Nasty Gal Now And Then Crop Top; $48.00; at nastygal.com

A standout pair of shades is the only way to survive a week in the sun. This pair of oversized cat-eye frames will be your best friend. Especially after a long night of partying. Ray Ban Thick Cat-Eye Wayfarer Sunglasses; $144; at jcrew.com

You won’t have much time to focus on a beauty routine at this go-go-go music fest. Deck your nails in a bright lacquer to feel like you’re primped and polished (literally) at all time. Covergirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss; $4.99; at covergirl.com

Keep all of your essentials close at hand in an oversized cotton tote. It’s a perfect place to keep the band demos, flyers, and photo strips you’re bound to collect along the way. And, the cute social message is an instant conversation starter. American Apparel Screen Print Bull Denim Woven Cotton Tote; $21; at americanapparel.net

A pair of Toms wedge sandals will give you the lift you need to look svelte in a pair of short-shorts. Can’t guarantee comfort for the whole day but just long enough. Plus, a pop of color always makes an outfit more fun. Toms Pink Hemp Women's Strappy Wedges; $69; at toms.com

If you only bring one thing on this trip, make it a portable phone charger. Everyone—and we mean everyone!—is on their phone all day and night, so your battery is going to get drained quickly. (Note: It took me 4 hours to send a Tweet last year!) This is the best $40 you'll ever spend. Proporta USB TurboCharger 3400; $39.95; at proporta.com

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