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What to Buy to Look Like: A Coachella VIP

Paris and Nicky Hilton do Coachella. Photo: Matt Cowan/Getty Images

Status can be a funny thing. Of course its most obvious iteration comes with shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting as you narrow it down to the more opaque signals — when the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series, Insider Goods, we’re talking to tribe members (some with their real names, some anonymously) to find out the status items among art-gallery assistants, or Broadway actors, or female architects. Today, we hear from a 27-year-old who grew up in L.A. and has been going to Coachella every year since she was 15 (only missing one year in college). “I’ve gone from when parents had to take me and stay with me until last year. I’ve retired.”

This isn’t an item, but there are parties that people go to and you have to make sure that you have a wristband to the right party. That’s the most statusy thing. The biggest one is Neon Carnival, which is invite-only and happens every year on Saturday night of the first weekend.

Otherwise, the first thought is always what am I gonna wear. For bottoms, it’s typically a pair of Levi’s jean shorts. A lot of girls trend toward that. There’s a little bit of a divide where there are people dressed like they’re actually at a festival, wearing face paint, maybe doing something a little crazier, but where I am in VIP — and if you’ve gone enough, you’ll really only do VIP — it’s trendier or more like a fashion show than dressing for the experience.

A lot of people wear a flat, black, short bootie, which is kind of funny. There are two camps. The flat-black-boot look or the cool-sneaker look, like a Golden Goose.

Obviously, everyone’s wearing a crop top.

But it’s also all about having a light jacket because it gets cold at night, so you need something that ties around your waist or that you can keep in a bag. For a long time and for a lot of people, it was having flannel around your waist. Always flannel around the waist.

For bags, everyone has something messenger style. This is snobby, but my friends either have those baby Céline ones that you could crossover or a Chanel one that crosses over. You need something functional that you can wear around when you dance.

It gets really dusty when you’re walking in and leaving, so anyone who’s been before knows to bring a bandanna to tie around your face or neck. This one doesn’t really need to be a brand. Just any bandanna. Preferably black.

It’s also really good to have someone you’re with, preferably a guy with a backpack, to have a big blanket. When you’re hanging out in the VIP area, it’s really good to have something you and all of your friends can sit on. Each stage has a different VIP area that’s on the back or the side of the stage — not at the front — so it’s more of a place to go and get away from the masses, eat something, meet up with friends. It’s a comfort zone to be away from everyone and just hang out on your blanket with your friends.

A lot of prep goes into it. People are always on a Coachella diet. And everyone’s self-tanning before. All of my friends go to this place called Portofino in Beverly Hills.

A lot of people from L.A. know people with houses in Palm Springs. It’s a really common thing, so no one I know really tents. When I was younger, we used to stay at La Quinta, which is a hotel in Indio, and a lot of people stay there for Coachella.

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What to Buy to Look Like: A Coachella VIP