What to Wear to a Film Festival

The month of September ushers in back-to-school, pumpkin spice, boots and sweaters, and also film festival season. That time of year when eager filmmakers, movie studios, and stars trot out their latest prestige flicks for award season contention. The big four fests include Venice, Toronto, Vancouver, and New York, all following in quick succession, months after Cannes in May and months before Sundance in January.

Film buffs from around the globe attend their festival of choice, and it’s not unusual for a fan to see three to four films per day for ten days. You’d think spending so much time in the dark would negate the need for style, but you’d be wrong. Mostly. Comfort is key, pockets help, as does a spectacular tote bag, but you also want to wear something a little more “extra” than what you'd slip on for a Netflix and chill night at home. After all, you might just bump into your favorite actor or actress, or at the very least, go for dinner or drinks where you can star gaze to your heart’s content. And if you’re lucky to score an invite to a festival party? You may not be an actor, but you do want to look the part.

The focus on festival fashion is fueled by the media swarm that descends to cover the movies and the people who make them, turning the red carpet into spectator sport, complete with snarky commentators. We’ve decoded five fashion looks that frequently make appearances on the film festival circuit so you can dress for success if you go, or for fun, if you don’t.

The Big Party Guest

The Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival are both high-wattage glamour events. But Venice is clearly the diva of the pack, full of European excess and rich history. If you find yourself snagging an invite to a film premiere or an after-party for one, don’t be shy. Go as glam as you want, there is no such thing as being overdressed. Dresses can be cocktail length, long, strapless, you name it, you can wear it. There's no denying the importance of gowns in film history.

But if you want to be more edgy while at, say, the New York Film Festival, then opt for slim pants and a bustier. It’s a sexy look that’s fresh and modern, yet special enough for a black-tie crowd, or a very chichi soiree.

The Star Gazer

It’s truly a festival pastime to sit at a table over coffee or wine and watch the action. Even if you haven’t opted to buy festival tickets, you and your friends can scope out the stars on your own. Check out the hotel bars, cafes, and restaurants near the venue. Even trendy hotels not nearby will probably have its share of celebrity guests.

A casual dress in a rich fall hue, like port, is an easy way to look on-trend while also being ready for anything. Another look du jour is monochrome, again, we love the luxe look of port. But grey, pink, black, whatever your preference will work as long as you are building an ensemble of the same color. Layer the look with a fitted rib knit cardigan and matching slim trousers. And don’t worry, this isn’t your grandma’s “matchy match” twinset.

The Film Buff

Now, you bought the festival pass and you’re ready to rush from screening to screening, subsisting on popcorn and energy bars. Jeans will be your festival bestie for style and comfort. Luckily, there are as many fits and washes in denim as there are film premieres. Take your picks. We happen to love Straight Jeans and Skinny Jeans because of their classic silhouettes that are easy to pair with tops, jackets, and boots.

Denim has made cinematic history of it own, worn by countless stars onscreen. Then in 2005's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a pair of mid-rise jeans were the source of the entire plot!

The Aspiring Filmmaker

Whether you’re an emerging filmmaker or just want to look like one, the iconic leather motorcycle jacket and black jeans gives you serious creative vibes. This is a look that will easily transition from film screening to lunch at a sidewalk café, to drinks at a trendy bar. This all-black look nods to the monochrome trend, but it’s also the uniform of the artsy set. You can’t go wrong!

The Starlet

Of course, no film festival week would be complete without an appearance (or several) of the LBD. Summon your inner ingenue and slip into something comfortable like a mock neck long-sleeve minidress made from a high-tech fabric that shapes, smooths and sculpts your curves. It’s a sexy look that keeps you covered. Pair w