The evolution of rave fashion

Rave parties have been around for quite a while. And as the decades went on, fashion changed for each generation. Here, we will take a closer look at the rave culture, fashion, and the idea behind each important period for the rave culture.

You don’t go to a rave party in your usual party clothes

When people think of rave parties, they believe it’s something new that has to do with DJs, electronic music, and bright colors. But, the truth is a bit different. It turns out that raves originated in the fifties. It was a term used to describe wild bohemian parties happening in the beatnik set in Soho, London. 

The first King of Rave was a jazz musician by the name of Mick Mulligan, and the tradition continued in the following decades. During the ‘60s, “rave” started to mean a party in general. Rave went on to refer to psychedelic bands like The Yardbirds and later to Paul McCartney. 

Even though music changed a lot at the rave parties, there are several things that remained the same. One of them is clothing. It is a common rule that you don’t go to a rave party wearing your usual party clothes. 

Rave fashion became quite important in the ‘80s, and each decade had something new and different to offer. For some elements, fashion trends became a worldwide “rule,” while others changed from region to region.

Late ‘80s/early ‘90s

The late ‘80s were rather important for rave culture and changes that happened for the festival fashion. It was also the time when electronic dance music became popular all across the globe. One of the most apparent changes was that festival-goers went from designer clothes to something a bit more industrial. 

These included boiler suits, phat pants, overalls, and others. The primary idea was functionality, and the clothes were often oversized. People wanted to visit a rave, feel comfortable even if the festival was in the warehouse, and not worry about losing their wallets or keys during the show. 

All things considered, the fashion choices were quite different than what we have today, except for a few bright-colored accents. These were often whistles, beads, and anything that could spice up the entire outfit. One of the most important parts of clothing from this era was the famous smiley face T-shirt.  

Mid/Late ‘90s

As the internet started becoming popular in the ‘90, the rave-style started to push towards cyber clothing. This involved vibrant colors, as well as Mickey Mouse plushies. The entire style focused on exaggerating the whole ‘90s culture, and there is a significant presence of mainstream brands in the late nineties. 

We can also notice spiked dyed hairstyles, sportswear, and finding ways to channel childhood. At the same time, raves became illegal in the U.K., which meant that they had to go back to clubs that had specific dress codes. 

The nineties were also the time when EDM started to gain traction, as well as bands like the Prodigy and Fatboy Slim. If you wanted to be a part of the rave in those days, the safest option would be to put on the gel in your hair, wear a visor, glow sticks, and shell-toe Adidas sneakers. 

Millennium years

As the popularity of raves increased, there were a lot of changes happening in fashion. The festivals became commercial, and more and more people desired to be a part of them. The era was marked by Kandi kids, and they wore customized facemasks, bracelets, armbands, and anything with bright neon colors. 

It was also an important time for self-expression, and people started adding their own things to the mix, whether it was through messages, symbols, or anything else that would help people find like-minded festival-goers. 

As for the music, Satisfaction by Benny Bennasi went through the roof. Songs were mostly electronic, and the shift changed towards EDM and hip hop. It wasn’t long before Skrillex appeared on the scene and became one of the most important parts of rave culture.


Today, we can find different types of clothing based on sub-genres of the rave culture. There is no doubt that rave fashion has evolved, but there are still elements of the previous decades. 

People look for a way to express themselves, and the easiest way to do so is through their clothing. We can find darker colors on dubstep lovers, and at the same time, fluffy or LED tops on others. 

Since raves have become quite popular, you can find nearly anything if you visit a festival, and there is no reason to worry about what others will wear. The primary idea is to have fun and feel great, so try to find something that will make you feel comfortable and help you enjoy the show.