Pretty in PLUR: An Electric History of Rave Clothing
Rave outfits have evolved as much as the music itself over the years. From the original underground parties of the early ‘90s to becoming a global phenomenon, part of the EDM scene has always been about expressing yourself vibrantly. It wasn’t always daisies and light up tees, but there’s really no separating a lively personal style from electronic music. So, in honor of the raver before us, here’s a breakdown of how they dressed to impress.
Late ‘80s/Early ‘90s:
It’s the final years of the ‘80s and electronic dance music has made its way from the sunny shores of Ibiza to grimy undergrounds worldwide. Fittingly, the general rave wear began to shift from designer dresses to something a bit more industrial: boiler suits, overalls, and phat pants. Over-sized and functional with a hippie twist was the style; something you could rock in a sweaty warehouse without losing your keys and chapstick. The fit of the clothing may have been much different from today’s style, but a few bright accents like whistles and beads were just as important in spicing up a fit. A quintessential piece of clothing from these days was the yellow smiley-face tee, which became an iconic symbol for this generation of electronic music lovers.
The Music: Acid house was the soundtrack behind this trend. This was the predominant electronic genre at raves, but it even began to seep into popular culture and influence mainstream records. Eventually acid house fashion began popping up on the runway and even influenced street style. Established underground brands like Stussy and Freshjive also traded influences with the scene and became unofficial rave wear companies.
Essential Rave Outfit: A smiley face tee-shirt was essential, along with oversized pants (with a lot of pockets), whistle on a necklace, colorful bucket hat, and sneakers.
As the internet-age approached rave wear began to reflect that with a big push in the cyber direction. The style became more vibrant and fun loving with Mickey Mouse and Elmo plushes being an essential late night accessory. Think the Spice Girls or Guy Fieri plugged into a dial-up modem; it was an exaggerated version of ‘90s culture. The outfits started to become more vibrant, but were also influenced by mainstream brands like Adidas as the millennium approached. Visors, spiked-colored hair, and general sports wear became the norm. This was the blending age between vibrancy and loose fitting functional. This era in rave fashion was about channeling child hood and embracing the growing scene as more eyes and ears began to take note of this homegrown style.
It’s important to note that in the UK they were experiencing their own major fashion shift during this time. In 1994, underground raves and parties were made illegal and nightlife was forced back into clubs with dress codes. As a result, cocktail dresses came back as the wild style of the warehouse days was getting pushed out.
The Music: Although still relatively early in its forms, electronic music was starting to take on a more anthem oriented style and the ears of major outlets perked up. Names like The Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, and The Prodigy began to up the bar as to what heights these tunes could reach. Raves were getting bigger, the music was becoming more aggressive and more diverse, and everything related to that - including rave fashion - followed suit.
Essential Rave Outfit: Hair spiked with colored gel, visor, glow stick, Mickey Mouse keychain plushes, furry backpack, shell toe Adidas. Unless, of course, you were across the pond; then it was back to short dresses and after office attire.
The more casual style of yesteryear rave-outfits began to fade away as massives came into the picture. Huge productions and music festivals began to take the place of undergrounds, and as the parties became flashier, so did the outfits. Raves were no longer just shows, these were bona fide events and the gear certainly embraced that grand energy. It was about more color, more accessories. After all, when you’re dancing with thousands of new friends in an arena and fireworks are bursting overhead, how could your festival fashion not be just as lively?
This period was also accented by the rise of the kandi bracelets, kandi facemasks, kandi armbands – pretty much all things bright and beady. Self-expression was at an all time high and these home made creations became must-have. This is perhaps one of most recognizable trends to ever spring from rave fashion, as kandi has become almost synonymous with electronic music and has evolved into a quirky accessory that can be worn daily. Other rave gear like LED gloves and light up clothing started to become more prevalent as well.
The Music: The term “big room” didn’t enter the EDM lexicon until years later, but this may have been the era where that grand style began. Songs like Benny Bennasi’s “Satisfaction” were being built to fill large spaces, and at the same time other sub-genres began to compete with house music, which further fueled the race for intensity. During this era we saw French electro, blog house, and dubstep all explode onto a global scale in a short amount of time. Labels like Ed Banger took over, and it’s hard to forget the impact that songs like Rusko’s “Cockney Thug” or Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop” had on the entire industry.
Essential Rave Outfit: As much kandi and color as possible. Oh, and some fishnets and furry rave boots. Make that rave gear pop!
These days, rave outfits are as big a part of the culture as the music is. From festival outfits to local club looks, showing up looking like a party is essential. Just as the scene has outgrown the bland warehouses and evolved into mindblowing stage productions over the years, the style has followed into something spectacular. Beloved’s collection of all-over prints take that passion to the next level by drenching your rave gear in outrageous color and style. While wearing less clothing is definitely in – especially in the warm festival season weather – the key is to make those few items as expressive as possible. There’s no better way to do that than with clothing that’s as unique and energetic as you.
The Music: In an age with so much talent, multi-stage festivals around the world, and endless outlets of music discovery online, we are in a golden age of options when it comes to choosing what we listen to and wear. After dubstep took over America, we reverted back to the softer sounds of deep house, and from there things blossomed even further into smaller genres like future house, tropical house, and even deepened its influence in every popstar on the radio. Electronic music has become a phenomenon most people never would have predicted thirty years ago, but that only adds to the magical atmosphere that the music and experiences, and the ravers and their outfits, produce when the sun goes down.