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*2023*What to wear to Essence festival? 16 real-life looks!

*2023*What to wear to Essence festival? 16 real-life looks!

Wondering what to wear to the Essence Festival for a weekend getaway in New Orleans? I’ve got you covered!

Known as the largest African-American culture and music event in the US, the Essence Festival is not your average music show.

From meet and greets, empowerment, and convention center activities to non-stop live music, there is a hefty number of events for literally e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e.

While there’s no specific dress code, people tend to pay some thought to their looks for this long weekend of great music and arts.

Ahead, I’ve gathered you 16 real-life outfits if you are wondering what to wear to the Essence Festival.

Enjoy my loves!

1. What to wear to the essence festival

As one of the biggest black music festivals, you will be enjoying all kinds of music genres from hip hop, R&B, blues, and more.

For a cute summer fest look, a fun playsuit or jumpsuit just helps you get the right vibes in an instant.

Together with a nice pair of chunky sandals, this look is as comfy as it’s flattering.

2. Wear a jumpsuit to the essence festival

If you are looking for an extra forgiving jumpsuit that fakes an hourglass shape and gives your butt a little boost, check out this bombshell I’ve found on Amazon.

jumpsuit essence festival outfit ideas
Get this jumpsuit on Amazon

Whether you wear this for music festivals or parties, I’m sure this suit will be a HIT.

Be mentally prepared when someone screams at you “What did you do? You lost 10 pounds I guess?”

Check out the Amazon reviews for the real-life try-on photos!

3. Casual chic essence festival outfit

For an effortlessly chic look at the Essence festival, throw on some animal prints that can never go wrong.

If you want to balance out the boldness, feel free to dress the leopard print down with a front knot top and sneakers.

Such a refreshing combo.


If you are petite like me, try pairing the top and shoes with similar hues. That way, your figure can look elongated and appear to be taller!

TRY THAT OUT. The difference is real!

4. When in doubt, animal prints

For the girls who want to put off a slimming look with sneakers, an asymmetrical skirt is your safe bet.

I am loving this leopard print dress on Amazon.

animal prints essence festival outfit
High low High split dress on Amazon

Featuring the asymmetrical hemline, it draws eyes vertically and makes your leg looks longer.

Check this out!

5. Fun neon shade for essence festival

To fully enjoy the long weekend at essence festival, make every outfit count.

Think no more because now it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and try that mesh neon dress that screams “I’ve got a style and I rock it”.

Be unapologetically chic gal.

Trust me, trying something you thought you could never wear feels so good.

6. Mesh top as a statement piece

If neon is not your thing, what about getting experimental with a forgiving black mesh top?

It just subtly tells others you’ve given a thought to your get-up without trying too hard.

As we all know, New Orleans is baking hot in July. That’s why you’ll see many girls wear a mesh shirt and tube top.

When in doubt, think of lightweight and breathable clothes.

7. What to wear to essence festival plus size

For my plus-size queens, a striped peplum top like this just work wonders for a music festival.

what to wear to  essence festival
Get this peplum top on Amazon

Featuring the peplum details, the flared stripe of fabric just hides your belly completely.

Whether you team it with jean shorts or a pencil skirt, it just accentuates your curves in the best way and makes you look put together.

Such a mood booster!

8. Crochet bra + bootcut jeans

When in doubt, show a stripe of skin.

Whether that’s indoor or outdoor, make sure your outfit screams 10/10 music fest vibes.

This girl is rocking a crochet bra top with vintage bootcut jeans together with a pair of statement sunglasses.


9. Artsy top for flower child vibes

If you want something whimsy, check out this colorful crochet crop top because it’s truly one-of-a-kind.

what top to wear to essence festival
Get this crochet top on Amazon

Feel free to complete the look with distressed pants for the flower child vibes.

Or else, patchwork pants are another hot trends these days!

10. Resort chic for Essence festival

A fun poncho dress with white shorts? Hell YES.

I am still not over this carefree resort chic look. To add a dash of hip-hop flare, accessories yourself with the chunky gold necklace for lowkey hip-hop flare.


11. Boho girl look for Essence festival

For a boho girl kind of look, throw on a flowy cover-up on top of a lace bralette just look irresistibly spicy.

We all know the rule: “Leave something to the imagination”. And this crochet cover-up just nails that to the T.

what to wear to essence festival boho
Get this cover-up on Amazon

For footwear, I’d say flat sandals and ankle boots work the best ♥

12. Add an extra pop of color

A white tank top and jean shorts for the essence festival may look too -shall I say – predictable?

No worries, throw on this funky mesh yellow shirt and you’ll never feel anything missing from your outfit.

Told you, mesh outfits are all the rage these days!

13. Pack different variations of clothes for a music festival

Essence Festival is way more than a music show so it’s important to pack different kinds of clothes for those 4 days.

If you want to spend some after-hours on Bourbon street or go to a lovely restaurant for a date night, make sure you pack those outfits as well!

14. What shoes to wear to the Essence festival?

I get it, for a summer music fest weekend getaway, you want to dress to the T for some instagrammable shots with your girl pals.

What shoes to wear to the Essence festival
Source: 1,2

If you are planning to dig out your sexy stiletto heels, hold on sis.

There’s lots of standing and walking for a music show, meet and greet, and more.

If you want to enjoy the weekend to the max, definitely go for functional shoes.

Think flat sandals and sneakers to feel the best.

15. Black girl magic shirt

Despite the wonderful music, the Essence festival is all about empowerment.

These “Black girl magic” shirts just warm my heart ♥ 

16. Black girl magic minimalist tee

I tried to find a similar piece on Amazon and here’s what I found!

If you love minimalist design, this black girl magic tee is perfect for you.

16. Black girl magic minimalist tee music festival
Get this “Black girl magic” tee on Amazon

Complete the look with a cool belt bag and biker shorts to look like a fashion A-lister!


So there you go – the 16 outfit ideas if you wonder what to wear to the Essence Festival!

While there are a ton of music fests out there, the Essence festival is unique in the way that it glorifies soulful black music and is dubbed the “Party with a purpose”.

Well, I guess now you have even more reasons to join this party!

If you find this article useful, please kindly pin this so more people can learn more about black music and realize that art festivals are way more than Coachella! ♥

For related music festival styling tips, feel free to check out my other popular reads below! See you there loves!

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  1. Rosie says:

    Black girl magic ʕ•́ᴥ•̀ʔ