Dress code at a concert? Absolutely, if you’re a fan of Taylor Swift, Harry Styles or Beyoncé

Friendship bracelets, colorful boas and glittery accessories adorn eye-catching outfits that are the unofficial must-have attire for these spectacular shows

Eras Tour
A fan at a Taylor Swift concert in Inglewood, California on August 3, 2023.Emma McIntyre/TAS23 (Getty Images for TAS Rights Mana)
Andrea Jiménez

Until recently, attending a concert was as simple as buying a ticket, waiting for the date and enjoying the show. But in the last few years, we’ve witnessed a revolution that has completely changed the game, turning the experience into something truly immersive and captivating. Just getting tickets has become a challenge, and now you even need to think about the event’s unofficial dress code.

Sara, who is 24, has been a fan of Taylor Swift since she was 12. Even though she has been a Swiftie for half of her life, she has never had the chance to attend one of her concerts. That’s about to change. After receiving a registration code on the ticket sales website, she was able to get four tickets for herself, her sister and two friends. The code assigned her position 2,884 in the queue for the Madrid concert. “I paid, called my friends in tears, and then shared it on Twitter. Right away, I hopped onto online stores to find some clothes for the concert.” But even before she had the tickets in hand, Sara knew what she’d wear. If the worst happened and she couldn’t get tickets, her backup plan was to put on the fabulous outfit and soak up the atmosphere outside Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium during the concert.

The obsession with what to wear at a Swift concert is nothing new, but it has now skyrocketed to a new level thanks to TikTok. “So, it all started a few months ago when the U.S. tour began,” said Sara. “TikTok and social media played a major role in what happened next. I mean, when you come across 200 videos of Taylor fans rocking their customized clothes and getting all decked out in super-thematic outfits for the concert, you just want to be like them, right?”

Taylor Swift fans at the Inglewood (California) concert on August 3, 2023.
Taylor Swift fans at the Inglewood (California) concert on August 3, 2023.Emma McIntyre/TAS23 (Getty Images for TAS Rights Mana)

The challenge is straightforward. Fans pick their favorite era of Swift’s career — after all, it’s called The Eras Tourand wear an outfit that matches the theme. Sara made up her mind months ago. “So, here’s the plan. I’m going to wear a sequined skirt and top straight from 1989! At first, I considered buying them, but then I thought, why not make them myself? It’ll make for a more special memory. I’ve already ordered all the fabric and accessories. I might need a little help from my friends, but it’s totally worth it!”

Núria is from Spain but has to travel abroad to see Taylor Swift. She has already chosen the two eras for the outfits she’ll wear to the concerts in Warsaw (Poland) in August 2024. “I’m not entirely sure, but here’s my idea: we could start with outfits from Speak Now and Lover, although I might wear Taylor’s outfit from You Belong With Me,” said Núria. “The great thing is that there’s no set dress code. It all happens naturally and everyone just goes along with it. Dressing a certain way means belonging to our community. It creates a bond when everyone shows up in similar outfits. If you decide not to, you’re just not getting into the concert spirit, you know? I know what I like to wear, what suits me, and what won’t make me look too overdressed.”

If you’re unsure about what to wear, don’t worry! Some passionate American Swifties have created The Eras Tour Wardrobe website. You can find outfit ideas for each Swift era that cater to different styles and budgets. And if you prefer a simpler approach, you can always design your own bracelets (a must-have accessory) and swap them with fellow fans at the concert.

Two fans exchange friendship bracelets at a Taylor Swift concert on August 3, 2023.
Two fans exchange friendship bracelets at a Taylor Swift concert on August 3, 2023.Francine Orr (Los Angeles Times / Getty Imag)

Fans copying their favorite performers is not a new phenomenon. Michael Jackson, Madonna and the Spice Girls have all inspired fans to adopt fashion styles. However, these trendy fashions eventually faded, giving rise to the typical concert merchandise that singers sell to fatten their wallets.

Everything that goes around comes around. Harry Styles fans were pioneers in making feather boas, hats and colorful outfits for his concerts. Gema attended six of his Love On Tour shows this past year, and wore a different outfit at each. “I thought it would be fun to wear the seven colors of the rainbow, but definitely not in the right order!” For her, it’s also a means of connecting with Styles and his passion for fashion. “He’s got this team of stylists who help him dress for concerts, events... You know, as fans, it kind of connects us to him in a different way, not just through music.”

Attending a Harry Styles concert is a must for fans, especially if you’re into his fashion vibe. “We all agreed that we needed special outfits. But the cool part is, everyone has their unique way of interpreting his style. You do you, right? It’s like we all have our own essence, but at the end of the day, we’re all connected,” said Gema. Because of her Harry Styles mania, Gema has met like-minded individuals who are now traveling with her across Europe. One such friend is Sheila, who attaches a deeper significance to the dress code. “I feel so free and good about myself, you know? And no one’s going to judge me or look down on me just because I like fancy clothes.” Gema and Sheila buy everything online from stores like SHEIN and add their own personal touches. After a Harry Styles concert, the stands and aisles are littered with colorful boa feathers that fall off dancing fans. The feather boa has become the official uniform of his current tour.

Sheila and Gema at the Harry Styles concert in London's Wembley Stadium
Sheila and Gema at the Harry Styles concert in London's Wembley StadiumGema Gutiérrez

Social media platforms are flooded with videos by content creators showcasing the clothes they’ve chosen for various occasions. Now many performers are embracing the dress code trend. Zambra attended two concerts this summer in Spain by Styles and two by The Weeknd, one of her favorite performers. While there is no unofficial dress code for The Weeknd’s concerts, she still wanted to wear a matching outfit. “For me, it’s about going with the flow of the environment he’s created during this part of the tour. In the beginning, he was all in black, like really dark. But now in Europe, he’s wearing white, symbolizing light and purity.” Another big change by The Weeknd upset her plans, so she had to change her outfit at the last minute. “He now wears this cool silver mask on his face, so I thought, why not make one for myself, you know? Gotta be able to adapt and all that!” One thing she values about all this is the boost in self-esteem it gives her. “It honestly makes me so happy when I think about picking out an outfit and then eagerly waiting for it to arrive. It just feels like everything is so much closer.”

It’s becoming more common to associate specific colors and clothing with performers and their fans. Colombian singer/songwriter Feid is associated with green and sunglasses, while Tini is known for her pink aesthetic. Rosalía has her “motomami” leather look, and fans at Beyoncé's Renaissance concerts embraced a silver galactic look. Even Vice President Kamala Harris wore silver for the occasion. Concerts are now more immersive experiences where people feel more involved. And, of course, friendship bracelets will always be a timeless part of the experience. “I’ve already bought the beads to make my own and plan to head to the concert hours ahead of time to swap them with other fans,” said Sara. Why spend a lot on a fancy outfit when a simple bracelet can instantly connect you to the community?

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