Keep cool while on the go this summer

by Karen Foster

Summer is the time for diving into the great outdoors, whether it be at a music festival, the beach, hiking or just a barbecue with friends.

But how do you stay cool cool and still look good while on the go during the hottest time of the year? If you are pondering what to pull out of the closet to wear outside the concrete jungle this year, take some tips on what is fashionable yet functional from Fuji Rock Festival ’06 veterans who survived the three-day bivouac at the end of July in style.

The starting point and most important item in your outfit is sensible, sturdy yet comfortable footwear.

Sandals generally are not a good idea due to the perils of mud and moshing, or sunburn and nasty things that bite. Most people opt for an old pair of sneakers dug out from the back of the closet, but one sudden downpour and your feet are sodden.

Lots of festival-goers wore rubber boots to help them squelch their way through the thick mud, but the ubercool wore Crocs.The original Beach and Cayman models are all the rage at the moment. The heavy rubber slip-ons from Australia are thick enough to deal with mud and they have holes in the tops of them so your feet don’t get too sweaty under the sun. Plus, they come in an array of bright colors. We found a guy who matched his Crocs to his watermelon red hair.

Out in the open, when ease of movement and keeping cool are priorities, you have to keep it simple: A basic top and one strong accessory is all you need. Most people go for a simple T-shirt with a fashionable design on the front.

Best sights this year were a T-shirt emblazoned with, “Beat me up Scotty,” and a tank top that has built-in layers.Accessory-wise, designer eyewear, a necklace or a heavy beaded bracelet is enough for all but the most flamboyant.

On the bottom, military-style cargo pants are always a good choice. Not only are they still hot this year, but any dirt or grass you pick up blends right in. At Fuji Rock, men and women wore a range of military gear — camouflage and khaki, tight and baggy, genuine surplus and designer reinterpretation — it was all there. A photographer we caught doing some surveillance tied it together nicely with a cool T-shirt and casual sneakers of the same color.

To top it all off, headgear designed to keep the sun off your skull is a practical choice. There are two popular types of hats on show this summer: The ubiquitous canvas camping hat was bobbing around all over the festival, but the truly hip were seen sporting straw, cowboy-style hats.

And if you are wondering how to accessorize, consider adding a harmonica like the little musician we found playin’ on down the road.

Although its best not to take too much gear with you, a towel and some sunscreen are important items to have on hand. To carry those necessary items, most people opt for slim, lightweight backpacks, but you can still be cool and even more mobile in a fanny pack, so long as you’ve got it all tied together with what you are wearing, as illustrated by the stylish young woman we sneaked up on.

The secret to looking good is to wear a couple of simple, but strong, pieces. And don’t forget to consider how easily you might burn — you may think that a skimpy top makes you look hot, but spend too much time in one outdoors and you’re toast.