1. Skip the pedicure.
By all means, if it makes you feel pretty and fits in your budget, get those toes painted. But it’s not necessary. Your best SXSW footwear options are sneakers or comfortable boots. We know, we know, you have adorable sandals that are actually quite comfortable. But do you really want to walk 5 — oh, wait, where’s that venue? — make that 6 miles in them?
Ainsley Williams and Karishma Thakor of the The United States Tennis Association dress as golden tennis statues figures during SXSW on Thursday, March 16, 2017.Erika Rich for American-Statesman and @austin360
2. Pick up cute, but functional, rain gear.
Go to your favorite box store or online outlet and get yourself a lightweight raincoat that can be stuffed into a small pouch and a pair of rainboots you won’t hate wearing all day right now. Because obviously, the more of us that do this, the less likely it is to actually rain. If it is raining during SXSW, being wet all day is misery, and umbrellas are for amateurs. They don’t keep you dry in any meaningful way, there’s no way to navigate a crowd with one without being a jerk, and you don’t want one more thing to carry around all day.
3. Dress in layers.
Yes, it’s a sunny 70 degrees as you leave your house/hotel room, but what happens when it drops to 50 at night? Or when you walk into the convention center and realize they have the A/C set to Duluth? A lightweight jacket or sweater that you can roll up and stick in your purse is a lifesaver. We’re also big fans of the pashmina. Use it as a pop of color during the day and a scarf or shawl at night.
Merilou Salazar of Los Angeles poses for a portrait during SXSW on Thursday, March 16, 2017.Erika Rich for American-Statesman
4. Sunglasses are your friend, as is sunscreen.
Oh, sunglasses, how we love you, let us count the ways: You shield our eyes from the sun’s harsh rays, you disguise the fact we haven’t slept for days, you make eye makeup optional when we’re running late. Corny, yes, but seriously, sunglasses are your most important day party accessory. Fortunately, if you lose or forget your sunglasses, there’s likely a booze company/startup/new TV show waiting to outfit you with a fresh (but probably less cute) pair.
Let’s talk sunscreen. Sure, the sun isn’t skin-scorchingly hot like it is during the Austin City Limits Music Festival, but it is still trying to take you out. Do not underestimate the Texas sun. Resist redness and slather regularly.
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5. Pack light.
There isn’t a uniform bag size restriction at SXSW music venues this year, but remember that you are likely to encounter bag searches at some of the larger clubs, and everyone hates the person who makes the line move slower. Don’t be that person. Minimize your makeup bag and pare your purse down to the essentials (she says, removing six of seven shades of magenta lipstick). Pro-tip: Iif you want to travel super light, you can slip your ID and credit card into your badge and go completely purse-less.
Lizzy Plapinger, lead vocalist of indie pop duo MS MR and co-founder of Neon Gold Records from New York City, poses for a portrait during SXSW on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.Erika Rich for American-Statesman
6. Be bold (but practical).
Pull out the wild patterns, statement jewelry, ridiculous pink lipstick, colorful scarves. No, that red jumpsuit does not look over the top, it’s SXSW! But comfort is key. Make sure everything fits well, is easy to move in and makes you feel fabulous and not self-conscious, and you’ll be ready to get out there and rock the fest.