Jo Whiley went to her first Glastonbury festival at the age of 17. Almost four decades on (and with 30 more Glastonbury festivals under her belt), she is proof that style, as with many other things, only gets better with age.
It’s just one reason that the presenter, who now leads the BBC’s coverage of the festival, was trending on social media this morning (another is that co-presenter Jack Saunders was captioned with her name on screen, much to BBC viewers’ amusement.)
Whiley, 56, kicked off with a gold Stella McCartney minidress, which she teamed with all the requisite wristbands, socks and a pair of ‘ancient’ trainers. She looked ready to party, but also relaxed; this is not a look that requires the wearer to stand on ceremony.
Confidence is more of a requirement with this look than a daily gym habit, but if there’s not a hope in hell that you’ll do a mini – there was an effortless gingham patchwork midi, followed by a Stella McCartney asymmetric floral maxi, chosen to introduce the designer’s Beatle dad to the Pyramid Stage for his headline performance. Both looks were proof, if needed, that festival fashion isn’t all about hotpants and high hemlines.
Of course, there is another reason Whiley looks so good, and it has nothing to do with the fact that the rain held off this year. As a television presenter, she has the privilege of bringing a makeup artist, a fashion stylist, and of borrowing an array of designer dresses (all to be returned first thing Monday morning, she revealed on Instagram). It’s also safe to assume that she wasn’t camping in an airless tent.
Even so, she never looked like she was trying too hard, the cardinal sin when it comes to festival fashion. Those designer dresses were teamed with artfully distressed Golden Goose trainers (which cost over £300, but battered Converse or Supergas would work just as well), and a vibrant pink Stine Goya fleece from west London boutique Feather & Stitch. Her icy blonde hair has a great cut, but is not overly ‘done’. That (and her infectious energy and smile) is what makes her look so cool.
She wasn’t the only midlife festival fashion muse on site this weekend. Kate Moss, 48, whose denim hotpants and wellies in the early 2000s inspired an entire generation of Glastonbury goers, was glimpsed before Paul McCartney’s headline turn on the Pyramid Stage with friends Stella McCartney and Rosemary Ferguson.
Yet it was Cate Blanchett, 53, who rocked the most daring look of the weekend though, a white boilersuit (Stella again) that was almost an invitation to the dirt on-site. Sienna Miller, who turned 40 last year, was another stylish sighting, her Mango linen minidress proving that you don’t need designer labels to have a Fashion Moment.
The biggest takeaway though? It’s that good festival fashion is more about an attitude than a dress size. You only need to look at the overly styled, self-conscious images of guests at Coachella in Palm Springs – now more of a marketing platform than a music festival – to realise that.
Festivals are about having fun, and you can’t do that in uncomfortable shoes, a restrictive dress or clothes that won’t look good with mud or dust on them. And don’t take yourself too seriously – as Jo well knows, there’s nothing more chic than that.