For the yet to be christened burner, and even those with some experience, choosing outfits can be time consuming and perhaps a bit stressful. Choosing a wardrobe is hard enough, before you even consider that there are lots of events like the Billion Bunny March, White Wednesday, and Tutu Tuesday that you only hear about once on playa. Of course you could probably borrow a set of bunny ears or a spare tutu, but if you're anything like me, you prefer to be prepared. It's all about self-reliance right?
Every year the org that puts on the burn releases a new theme that is meant to shape the art and inspiration for the festival. One of the most accessible ways to participate in the theme is to create outfits based on that year's topic.
Metamorphoses offers a variety of color options from beautiful butterflies to a phoenix rising from the ashes. Below are some ideas based on this year's theme:
Make Your Own Wings
Don’t wait for someone else to come along and make you change. Take yourself to the highest of heights, put on your wings, and soar. Have fun with this transformational rainbow butterfly outfit:
You First Must Burn
In order for a phoenix to be reborn, it first must burn. All transformations come with their pain, but rising from the ashes, triumphant, is something we can all understand.
Always Be Yourself
Unless you can be a unicorn, then you should be a unicorn. Transform yourself into one of the most fun mythical creatures with this holographic unicorn ensemble.
You’re An Animal
Perhaps your next transformation should be an homage to your spirit animal! Channel your inner shaman and the energy of your spirit guides with an animal inspired outfit. Since my spirit animal is the dragonfly, you can see what I’ll be wearing below.
Don’t know what your spirit animal is? Take this fun quiz and find out.
Put The "Y" in Cyborg
You were once human, but now you've been assimilated. Use your superior hive mind to solve the most important question, "where's the good music?"
When I first saw what the 2019 burn theme was Metamorphoses, I immediately thought of my sophomore year english class and the famous line from Kafka’s Metamorphosis:
Of course, when I think about transformation I tend to imagine a beautiful butterfly rather than a cockroach. But even that metamorphosis isn’t as easy as it seems.
Before a caterpillar becomes a butterfly it spins cocoon and from there, it doesn’t just grow wings, it instead loses all form and dissolves into a cell soup. Once it has lost all of its former shape it reforms from the goop into a butterfly.
After having been to the burn seven times, I can honestly say this is my favorite theme. The playa is our cocoon. We arrive as little caterpillars, even if we’ve been before, and we dissolve for a week and forget everything we know, and remember things about ourselves long forgotten. Then sometime shortly after the burn we spread our new wings and fly.
According to the org the theme this year celebrates change and uncertainty. It will be interesting to see how artists and participants represent the future with both art and fashion.
Looking for ways to incorporate this year’s theme? Check out these outfits for women.
Whether you opt to be nude, or you get styled to the neck, the citizens of black rock desert love to express themselves through their fashion. While the styles have changed over the years, and some things like tutus are a playa staple that you can not leave at home, other looks come and go. If you want to have the latest looks when you arrive at the burn, here are the top ten fashion trends for the burn in 2018.
The Do's and Don'ts of Playa Fashion
To some The Burns feels like a no restrictions, no holds barred, adult playground where the rules don't apply. But even in the chaos and magic of the playa there are some guidelines you should follow. Some of these are based on following certain principles and some are based on the harsh conditions that you find in the Black Rock Desert. So here are the fashion do's and don'ts:
DO Express Yourself
This festival is not about looking like everyone else. It is about freedom of expression. I know there are lots of fashion ideas here on this site that look like "traditional burner": fishnets, holsters, scarves, etc. but that doesn't mean you should dress like everyone else. Find the look that makes you feel fully expressed.
DON'T Wear Glitter of Gems
Items that fall of your body or outfit are a no-go at the burn, starting with glitter and gems. You might be thinking, "well I'll just use biodegradable glitter," but this is a leave no trace festival, which means you don't leave anything, including things that biodegrade. Just imagine that someone, weeks after you are gone, is pulling your super cute glitter or gems off the playa with tweezers. NO JOKE. If your outfit has gems or glitter that seem to come off easily, leave it at home. And PLEASE know that anything hot glued to your outfit will likely come off in the heat, so only use epoxies that can withstand the climate like E6000. A good alternative to these items are flash tats and funky makeup alternatives. I've included a few below:
Check out the makeup section for more fun ideas.
DO Be Comfortable
You will find all ages, sizes, genders, etc. at the burn, as well as all forms of self-expression. The best way to be comfortable in the mix is to wear exactly what feels good to you. You can be entirely dressed up and glamorous, dressed down and hippie, or not dressed at all. The thing you want to avoid is dressing the way you think you should be dressing.
DON'T Wear Feathers
I repeat, DO NOT WEAR FEATHERS. These little bits of fluff are a hazard to the playa, and nearly impossible to keep contained. Years ago people wore cheap feathers boa and left trails of M.O.O.P. behind them. In 2012 the festival banned feathers, but then eased the ban for items that had strongly secured feathers. There are hundreds of amazing ways to accessorize, so leave the feathers at home.
DO Explore The Theme
Every year the festival has a new theme that is meant to inspire art, fashion, and conversation. Every year I create or buy one new outfit that is inspired by the theme, and this year Metamorphoses is no different. You can check out complete outfit ideas for men and women, or just a collection of ideas for women.
Looking for more ideas?
Officially, Wednesday is just another day on the playa, but for lots of burners Wednesdays are for wearing white. Participation ranges from the subtle to the outrageous. So grab some white wings, a white tank top, some white boots, and show just how angelic you can be.
*One caveat. The items below are meant to be for inspiration. Of course you can shop online, but I truly hope you will also search your local Goodwill and attend some clothing swaps as well.
There are so many ways you can interpret this year's Burning Man theme: I, Robot. If you want to see some complete outfits check out my blog with a variety of interpretations for I,Robot.
Below I've pulled together some ideas and base pieces for building a variety of different robot themed outfits.
Black Rock Desert is known for its whiteout dust storms that bring the city to a halt at any time, day or night. Winds can reach up 80 mph (130km/h) creating dangerous whiteout conditions that will have you choking on the playa dust if you aren’t prepared. As a veteran burner I can vouch that breathing in too much playa dust can wreak havoc on your lungs and vocal chords.
Generally speaking the most intense dust storms are rare, and only happen a few times at any burn. But just biking around the playa can result in breathing in enough playa dust to irritate your lungs.
My approach to avoid injuring my lungs is to always have three kinds of dust masks available. The first item that I keep with me day and night is my favorite scarf.
I recommend everyone have a scarf like the one here because it is the most versatile thing you can carry. I have used mine to cover my head, protect my shoulders, cool me by wetting it down, provide ground or seat cover, and yes, become a makeshift dust mask in a pinch.
Aside from the scarf, I carry a technical dust mask with me at all times. These masks have professional filtering and are meant to keep dust and pollutants from reaching your lungs. And just because they keep dust particles out doesn't mean they are boring. You can see some suggestions below:
Now my scarf is a great impromptu mask, but isn't as convenient as a simple, less technical mask. When the need arises I also have a small cloth mask that isn't as good at filtering dust as the masks above, but it will give some protection and they are generally more comfortable. These masks are colorful, and some of them even light up!
Check out my suggestions below:
Feeling crafty and want to make your own dust mask? Check out my blog on how to sew your own custom dust mask.
Every year Burning Man releases a new theme that is meant to inspire the art and inspiration for the burn that year. One of the most fun ways to participate in the theme is to create outfits based on that year's theme.
While I, Robot might inspire images of tin man and C3PO, and who doesn't love a shiny outfit, the organizers have asked people to be inspired by current and future technologies (including robots).
Burning Man is legendary for its dust storms that sweep across the Black Rock Desert, sometimes without warning. Winds can range up 80 mph (130km/h) creating total whiteout conditions, especially if you are be outside the city. Exposure to the elements at Burning Man can be serious, and that's why the right pair of goggles is something that can't be left at home as you prepare for that thing in the desert.
The good news is, most burns only experience a handful of serious whiteouts, and goggles aren't often needed as anything other than an accessory.
When dust storms do hit, they can happen during the day or the night, so most of my friends and I have a three pack that includes goggles that are tinted or clear for night and day.
This three pack even include a yellow pair for low lights conditions, which can make a difference when the lighting changes in the middle of the day.
Dust storms are no joke, and while they aren't a constant, you should have your goggles with you AT ALL TIMES. Preparedness is literally the different between a great burn, and one that lands you in a medic tent.
Of course this three pack of motorcycle goggles are very utilitarian, so if you want something more fashionable you can consider trying a pair of ski goggles or other funky motorcycle goggles
I personally find goggles to be less than comfortable in the heat and spend most of my days in sunglasses. I typically recommend that burners bring two or three pairs of cheap sunglasses and one pair of nice goggles that can be taken out when things get dusty.
Here are a few of my favorite sunglasses:
Of course, if you want to personalize your goggles check out my blog on how to add gems to them.
Heeeeey virgin! You, yeah you! If you haven't been to Burning Man you are still an uninitiated virgin. And unlike high school where that word would garner you all kinds of attention, at the burn, we love our virgins. Yell it loud and proud that it's your first time, and keep these ten things in mind:
Be teachable. Remember the first time you had sex? No matter how good it felt, you still had no idea what you were doing. So listen to the veterans, they are to help and occasionally fuck with you. There are ten principles for a reason, and Burning Man only works when they are heeded.
Give yourself enough time! Don't skimp on the number of days you spend at the burn. Soak it up! Show up on Sunday and watch the city grow into a frenetic party by Saturday. And don't skip the temple burn, it is one the most sacred burns you will ever watch.
Take time to prepare. There are tons of blogs and packing lists online that share different tips and tricks on how to burn, and while we do our best here at Dusty Depot to provide all that information, we still recommend you take the time to research and prepare to have the best burn possible.
Participate! Wear artistic outfits, help with art, go to lectures, burn something in the temple, dance when you feel like it. There is no point watching everyone else play while you wait for an invitation.
Self Care! Don't skimp on sleep. The burn is a marathon, not a sprint so plan to have a great time, but also bring ear plugs, and a good eye mask. Eat right. Everyone does the burn a little differently when it comes to food, but whatever you do, don't skip meals too frequently. The burn is hard on your body, and not nourishing it can have serious consequences.
Hydrate! Just like food, you will need to drink lots of water and electrolytes.
Make plans for your accommodations. During your week on the playa you will need a place to change your costumes, get some sleep, and you might even want a place to retreat for a few hours to recharge. Do yourself a favor and create a dust free environment to stay in, whatever that looks like.
Learn the language. There is a culture to the burn, from the principles we stand for, to the language we speak. The burn isn't a festival, it's a community, and you are about to become its newest member. You should know what moop is, why you shouldn't be a darktard, and what a shirt cocker is.
Be prepared to miss something. The burn is massive! With hundreds of pieces of art, music, and festivities. Just remember that where ever you find yourself on the playa, you are in the right place.
Take risks. Watch the sunrise, fall in love, cry, release something, become a better you. The burn is a place to evolve, so come in with an open heart to what is possible.
It is true what they say, you get what you pay for, and in the case of tents, nothing is more true. You can get $80 tents at your local discount store or spend thousands on a new Lotus Belle or ShiftPod tent.
While that cheap tent might do just fine on your annual camping trip, it won't hold up in 80 mph (130km/h) winds, and it won't withstand the dust storms either. I've been to the burn and watched tents get shredded, poles break, and entire setups blow away in the wrong conditions.
Of course I know people who get by in little tents, but I don't recommend it. Instead, I suggest you invest in a strong canvas tent or something similar that will withstand the elements and provide you with some comfort for your week on the playa.
One of the tents that recently hit the market and has been extremely popular at The Burn and festivals alike is the Shift Pod tent. The general consensus from a variety of users is that these tents are superior when combined with an A/C unit because they actually can hold in the cooled air and provide a dark place for napping in the middle of the day. They are also easy to clean and are very effective at keeping the dust out. The tents are large, measuring 12'x12' and over six feet of clearance when standing up. These tents also come with a lifetime warranty.
The downside? They are too large to easily bring in a car, they cost over $1,000 and ShiftPods still need shade structures. If you are thinking of getting a ShiftPod I recommend placing your order early in the year since the company runs out of inventory before every burn.
Read our entire review of ShiftPods here.
Looking for an alternative to ShiftPod?
I personally recommend the Kodiak Tent for The Burn. For one, these tents costs between $450 and $650 depending on the size you want and are just as effective at keeping dust out as the other tents with thick canvas and sturdy zippers. Kodiak Tents range between 10'x10' to 10'x14', have a head clearance of 6'6", and include a small porch covering. These tents easily hold up year-after-year and can easily fit a queen size bed like the other two. These tents also come with a lifetime warranty.
The downside? Unlike the ShiftPod Tents, Kodiaks are made from tan canvas and don't provide the dark conditions that are ideal for daytime napping. They also don't work well with an A/C unit so the best you can hope for is some good fans.
Before ShiftPods there were Lotus Bell Tents, a high end canvas yurt that went up with one center pole and supporting guy lines. Since then the bell tent style has been copied by several companies and the price has gone from $3,000 to a mere $500. Bell Tents are between 10 and 16 feet and is also easy to keep dust free with thick canvas fabric and zippers. The original Belle Tents and the knockoffs only have one year warranties.
The downside? Much like the Kodiak this tent also doesn't keep things dark during the day, and won't utilize an A/C unit. It also has guy lines that create a dangerous tripping hazard.
Want to know how to make the most of your tent? Read my blog and discover the best way to stay comfy in a tent .
Before my first burn I was told that it was impossible to have fresh fruit or vegetables because they would go bad. So I spent an unhappy week eating canned food and dried fruit. Fast forward to the next year when my friend, who is a vegan chef, showed up with four coolers to feed three people and force fed me kale for an entire all week.