Being prepared for your first time trip to Burning Man may seem like trying to put your shoes on the wrong feet at times. And no wonder. After all, you’re preparing to spend a week out in the blazing desert heat and aren’t quite sure what to expect. This is totally normal, I’ll assure you. And the truth is, part of the fun is not quite knowing what to expect. So without any further delay, let’s get down to business and find out the appropriate attire for Burning Man.
What IS Burning Man?
Before we can find out how to dress for Burning Man, we probably should learn a little more about what we’re walking into, wouldn’t you say?
Think of Burning Man as a big exercise in self-reliance, courage and freedom to be yourself. It is for sure all of these things. The Black Rock Desert isn’t a very people-friendly place. It’s hot, dry and features lots and lots and (lots and lots and lots) of sand and heat and is pretty much void of all water. Now, picture yourself in the middle of this place with friends and yeah, it can be tons of fun, but you have to learn to pack and dress for the weather and ALWAYS bring back-up pairs of clothes just in case.
Burning Man is a yearly event that is, as we said before, hosted in the middle of nowhere in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. In the same spot each year, a temporary city will be constructed and a community of like-minded people will gather together to enjoy life, sport, game and recreation on what is called “The Playa” which is the area in which the Community of Burning Man is stationed. Over the course of the week spent at Black Rock, the community of friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers will embrace all kinds of different forms of very artistic and creative self-expression. This can be done in many ways, but the most common will include singing, dancing, costumes and more. Without the community, Burning Man would be no more. It is the selflessness of the people in attendance who give up their own talents, work and time to bring greater enjoyment to the community that make Burning Man such a rapid success each year.
Dressing For The Weather
Wearing costumes is always loads of fun. And of course, most people are going to find themselves wanting a costume for at least one of the days they’re out in the Black Rock Desert enjoying Burning Man. But when it comes to costumes, you’re probably well aware that they can get pretty hot. And in Nevada, it’s not uncommon for temps to be upwards to 100 degrees during the day. That’s where a good mask liner can really save the day and keep you from sweating too bad. The temp does drop at night, so if you want to try out that faux fur coat that you’ve been stockpiling for just such a time as this, your opportunity has arrived. It can get to nearly 40 degrees at night, so pack warmly for the evenings and bring lots of extra socks!
It may sound surprising, but out on the Playa, it’s not uncommon for there to be white-out conditions and crazy sandstorms. DON’T GET CAUGHT without the necessary accessories that will help you have a great time even when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. The best thing for this is skiing goggles or a similar face mask that will keep the sand out of your eyes. It’s also a good idea to pack a light summer scarf to wrap around your face so you can avoid getting sand in your mouth, nose, ears, etc.
Shade is ALWAYS a good thing, but for the times you’re out wandering around the Playa with your fellow camping buddies, you’ll want a sturdy sun hat to protect your face. The hats that clasp under your chin can be extremely helpful, while also very fashionable. Women can also carry parasols for shade when not in a tent or under a sun-guard.
When it comes to footwear, we’d recommend closed-toed shoes with socks. Sounds backward when it’s hot, but trust me. The sand and heat against your exposed feet will lead to painful cracking and terribly dry skin, and you don’t want that. It’s also a good idea to pack some lotion for the rest of your body as your skin will dry out very quickly.
Best Costume Elements for Burning Man
You can easily get into the Burning Man Mood by going crazy and embracing your individuality with face and body paint, makeup and cool and lightweight costume elements. Trust me: nothing is out of place when it comes to Burning Man. Lightweight cotton skirts and pants are great in the heat and can be found in a variety of colors and designs that fit any look. You can find crazy scarfs to wrap around your body, too. If you’re looking into wearing shoulder armor without anything underneath, (or if you’re going for a body-paint look) we recommend you don’t use any type of metal material, as it will grow hot in the sun and burn you.
Corsets and wide cotton sleeves are always a cool look for women no matter the event and look perfectly superb when paired with the right face mask. Just remember: there are no rules when it comes to Burning Man. Zero. Your imagination is your only limit. Headdresses, chains, tankinis, bikinis and more- it’s all up to you. Nothing is out of reach because this event is all about self-expression and being uniquely you and being accepted no matter who you are by everyone else in attendance who is there to do the same thing. However, at Burning Man, leaving no trace is of the utmost importance, so that does rule a few things out, sadly…
What Not To Wear To Burning Man (Leaving No Trace)
At Burning Man, the goal is to be environmentally friendly and leave no tracks or traces that people were partying and living it up for a week on the Playa. This means that a costume that involves something that can shred easily and go flying across the desert isn’t allowed. Think: Feather scarfs or boas. If you keep this in mind, it’ll help you make sure you’re putting together an outfit that’s Burning Man friendly.
Burning Man isn’t just another event, it’s a community of people who love and support each other, no matter how different they are. Experiencing something like Burning Man can change your life for the better. Just don’t get caught on the desert without basic necessities that will help you survive in the Nevada Desert. Good luck and have fun!