How To Rock A Pride Outfit
It’s freezing cold outside, and from under the duvet Pride feels months away. But our Pride calendar will tell you that things started at the Midsummer Festival in Melbourne on Jan 21st and go on till Buenos Aires in November. And then there’s Pansexual Pride on December 8th. It’s pretty much always Pride somewhere these days.
Whether you’re just pitching up at your local town event this year or going international to visit as many Pride weekends as you can, time, as every twink knows, is nobody’s friend, and that rainbow weekend will be here before you can click your heels and say 'Netflix Box Set' three times. And a couple of days beforehand a question will pop into your head that causes utter chaos: What will I wear?
As a former drag queen I sported a bewildering array of looks over the years. From angel to devil, and sexy sheep (don’t ask) to psychotic Alice. But although the looks were vastly different, the week before Pride was always the same: A frenzied, stressful and sleepless few days and nights attempting to manufacture something appropriately bizarre and unique.
So if history has taught me anything, and I hope it has, it’s that preparation reaps rewards. So instead of panic buying, or worse, manic glueing, a few days before the big event, make this year smooth and joyful by planning your look in advance so you look awesome instead of awful.
With that in mind we at The Rainbow Stores thought we’d be extra helpful. After all, we’re all about making you look awesome. So we decided we’d put together a little guide to help you achieve the look you’re after. And how to avoid the worst dressed lists.
The first thing to do is understand what your Pride Tribe is. See which fo these sounds like you...
The 'Rainbows Till I Die' Tribe
The classic Pride outfit. After all, it’s the one day you can cover yourself in as many rainbows as possible and no one will think you’ve been possessed. Not only is it not frowned upon. It’s almost compulsory. Drape yourself in your colours and let the world bask in your wonderfulness.
Yes, Pride gives you permission to be yourself. But hang fire there, before you opt to throw everything on and who cares if they clash. No-one’s eyes are going to thank you for looking like you got dressed in the dark, and it won’t impress the potential love of your life when you meet them on the day.
So let’s attempt to create a more sartorial look.
The most important mantra to repeat over and over is “match don’t clash”. Rainbow is a very strong pattern. Ideally you want the same pattern on all the items, and the same tone of the colours too. If you have rainbow stripes on your jacket get exactly the same colour and size of stripe on anything else you wear.
The second is don’t overdo it. If you’re rocking a rainbow jacket and trousers then stick with a plain white or dark t-shirt.
Finally, try to stick to two or three pieces. Either focus on the top half and go top and hat or go full length with rainbow top and bottoms. Or, mix it up and do top and a flag.
The Flag Bearer
If you don’t want to work too hard on an outfit it’s difficult to beat simply wearing a flag over the shoulders. It is a tad lazy but hey, it’s the most basic form of identity patriotism. And it says this is who I am.
This is the look we encountered more than any other at Pride in London last year. Mostly sported by the herds of joyful teens, out for the first time and proudly introducing their parents to their community.
But it’s also a useful way to be able to go incognito for the journey to and from the event if you’re worried about how you’ll be treated on public transport.
Flags were in short supply at Pride in London last year so find yourself one in advance. The 5ft x 3ft or 150cm x 100cm is the best to go for. We will have some in stock on our stall on the day but to avoid disappointment in case we’re sold out, get one early.
In terms of how to wear it, over the shoulders may be the trad style, but believe me it’s overdone. So try wearing it as a sarong rather than draped casually over you. Mix it up with a cool white Pride tee and some chunky necklaces and you're ready to rock.
Alternatively you could dive in to a full on all over print t-shirt with your flag on. It’s a great way to wear the colours without having to carry your flag around all day.
The Classic Pride Shirt Wearer
These days most will opt for casual in their Pride style. It keeps you cool on a hot day and looks great if you put the rest of the look together. The classic tee also gives you options. The front can be printed with flags, pop art, humour, cuteness, statements or protest.
Our most popular tees are the arty shirts that include the flag in the artwork. So Rainbow Hearts, Lips, Lightning, Ice Lolly or Love let everyone know your tribe, that you’re part of the celebrations and give you that twist of individuality.
Or you could opt for something that makes a bolder statement about who you are with something like Trans Rights Are Human Rights or Pride is a Protest tees. Pair your tee with jeans or denim shorts and you’re ready to go. But it’s also fun to accessorise a little.
The Mix and Matcher
If you’re looking for something a little more unusual there’s a world of options open to you. If you’re going this route remember to colour co-ord your other clothing. Rainbow paint drip shorts will look awesome with a white shirt or rainbow leggings with a plain dark grey or white tee. Avoid being too busy and let the item do the talking.
Our fav option for something different would be some rainbow leggings, but that does slightly depend on how prepared you are to show your legs off. You can go full hoop flags and hope everyone around you remembers their dark glasses, or side stripe or dynamic stripe for a cooler look.
Alternatively, if you need to be super subtle try the ones with a small flag tab on the outer of each leg. Stylish and yet still on brand, and these will work amazingly at the gym or even on a night out long after Pride is over. You can even wear these with a statement white tee.
Shorts are a good option when the weather is warm and we have some with rainbow paint drips which look understated but lovely. Or go full on and grab a pair that have the all over print flag on. Pair with a button shirt, or plain tee (or both) to create a stylish look.
The other direction is hotpants/cycle shorts. This is a great choice, goes wonderfully with a crop top, sportsbra or tee and can look absolutely stunning.
Yes it’s a thing, but it can also get pretty warm unless you have something loose fitting. Go for a t-shirt dress ideally unless you have a figure you’re desperate to show off or you’re going to the club straight afterwards. There are a few dresses in the store that fit the bill, from more subtle leopard prints to the Rainbow Pride Love dress.
Yep. Shoes. If you either want to keep the Pride references at floor level or you need to have them at every level there are shoes for that.
Full on rainbow shoes are tricky to wear away from the Pride weekend and shoes aren’t cheap, so choose something with a more subtle reference that you can wear anywhere after the event.
We have a range of high-tops in all sorts of colours and patterns that have a Pride flag on the tongue like the ones you see here. Or we also have a collection ofslip ons in a range of patterns with a flag up the back.
You're bound to find something that fits the bill.
The Carnival Queen
You’re usually the one dancing on a podium at the club. Everyone thinks you’re a bit mad and come Pride you’ll probably be found on a float throwing some shapes.
It probably doesn’t matter what we say, you’ve thrown yourself into a rainbow snowstorm and you’re wearing whatever sticks. Feather headdress, rainbow fishnet dress or vest over rainbow hot pants and full on with accessories, purple wig, lashes, nails, glasses, beads, hat and fishnet gloves.
Topping it all off with belt that holds all your spare glow sticks, flags and a rainbow fan to keep cool. A liberal spraying of glitter finishes the outfit. You go girl!
One of our favourite looks at the moment is the gender neutral, androgynous style that allows you to take things traditionally seen as masc or femme and combine them into something extraordinary. This is a wonderful fusion in which there are no rules, just your own sense of style.
It’s hard to recommend anything as your choices are as much about you personally as they are about your gender identity. Although we’d recommend you go with things that compliment your age and body shape. If you feel good go with it, but missteps can draw more of the wrong attention. You can easily look like you’re wearing your mom’s curtains! Check out style icons Billy Porter, Jamie Windust, Harry Styles, Jonathan Van Ness, Olly Alexander or Alok V Menon for inspo.
The Understated Stylist
You want to join the party but feel that going full rainbow is a step beyond your style guide. But wait, there’s still a way you can show your colours without showing your knickers. We have loads of things with a more subtle pride flag reference that let you feel part of the community without shouting it. Dresses with flag collar tabs, leggings with flag hem tabs or tees with a subtle embroidered rainbow lightning flash on the chest.
The Fancy Dresser
A popular option and it can be quite fun. But do please try to avoid grabbing an emergency Smiffy’s the night before. Mostly because it’s awful but also there’s nothing worse than bumping into someone else dressed in the same ill fitting and highly-flammable nurses outfit.
Fancy dress should be planned to make it really original. Your future self will thank you when your iPhone 68 regurgitates pics of the day back to you in 20 years. And also making an outfit with friends if you’re all in it together is really fun and satisfying.
You don’t even need to spend that much, and often less is more. For example a white shirt and shorts can be transformed with a simple sailors cap. One thing to absolutely avoid is the feather boa. It may seem like a good idea, but don’t do it. For a start they shed everywhere and it’ll look like a rat’s tail by 4pm and secondly you’ll look like straight boy trying to do drag queen. If you see one, leave it in the shop.
All you cosplayers who are committed to your art we salute you. But a sliver of advice: If you’re coming in your fav cosplay outfit then try to give it a Pride slant.
Last year at our Pride in London stall we met the ultimate Pride Cosplayer in the guy who came as Captain Kirk with a rainbow Tribble. Now that’s awesome.
But do read the room. It might get a little warm in June or July dressed as Darth Vader with a rainbow cape.
The Leather/Harness Boy
Absolutely the de rigueur look in the 1970s, the Tom Of Finland/Biker/Leather Boy look isn’t as popular as it was but certainly has its dedicated followers.
These days it’s the harness that’s in the ascendency and those have even reached the mainstream. We saw one in Selfridges not so long ago.
If that’s your thing then you probably have one already, there are lots of shops that do them, but to give your look a bit of Pride glory maybe try a rainbow harness. We saw this amazing one on the Don Huon website.
Once upon a time you didn't come across any puppy players at Pride, but I’ve seen more recently so if puppy play is your bag then break out your hood and paws. But once again, try to give it a pride touch, maybe with a rainbow collar. Good boy, good boy!
Pride Clothing In The Rain
It’s the thing we all fear. The steady drizzle all day. Or worse, the heavy downpour that has everyone rushing for cover. I got caught in a thunderstorm at Pride in 2001 wearing six inch heels, a fluffy micro mini skirt and huge wings. I looked like a soggy pigeon by the time I reached shelter. But as we know, God loves the gays, so we trust in her to provide sunny weather.
If however, the worst happens you should be prepared. If you want to make sure you still look fabulous you have three options that need to be sorted in advance. The first is to get a fully transparent plastic mac. They’re not expensive and your awesomeness will be seen underneath. Here’s one we found on Amazon.
The second is a lovely Rainbow Pride umbrella and the third is a waterproof jacket in pride colours, oh look, we happen to have several. But depending on where you are delivery may be up to 30 days so don’t wait till it’s too late to order.
Other Pride Outfit Ideas
There are loads of interesting things you can accessorise your Pride outfit with to make it even more spectacular. But it really depends on what else you’re wearing. Don’t overdo it. You’re not competing with the drag queens. Accessories can make or break an outfit. And while less is usually more, this is Pride so excess can also be awesome.
Our feeling is unless you’re wearing Hawaiian shirt or you’re in a group who are all wearing the same garlands it’s probably a no.
So popular at one time (shuffles feet uncomfortably) and can be fun, but cheap wings can look, well, cheap. Find some nice ones and build a proper outfit around it. This is Pride, not a zany hen do, dammit. Be prepared to spend the whole day apologising to people you’ve poked in the eye!
Great for waving as the floats go by. Pain in the ass to carry around the rest of the day. If you bring them either expect to throw them away or bring a bag to stash them in.
Depends on the badges. There are some awesome ones. Check our site as we'll be adding badges very soon.
Very useful to carry your valuables and all the flotsam and jetsam you collect along the way. If you can get something that has a pride flag on it then doubly thumbs up as long as it fits the rest of your look. Avoid clashing. Bum bags, smaller backpacks or totes are the thing to bring.
You’ll thank me for suggesting you bring these if you’re in heels all day. We sold a tonne of them to people with sore feet from mid-afternoon last year.
It’s Pride. It’s fun. Go on then. The little slide out sticks with the colours already in them are the ones to go for.
Oh god! I thought we talked about this. The answer is yes if you do it properly. If not then no. You can do a decent job if you give yourself some time and buy all the feathers, glue and other things separately. Or spend money on something someone else with time and skill has put together.
Were you a bank manager in the 1950s? If the answer is no then it's a no to the braces as well.
If it’s hot it’ll feel like a fur hat you can’t take off. Also, it probably won’t survive the day unless you look after it. If you're going to do it be bold with colour, but for goodness sake stay away from green!
Rainbow fishnet gloves will probably appear somewhere. If they go with the rest of you without clashing then yes. If not then leave them at home.
Where To Buy Pride Outfits
Obviously we’d love you to buy from us, but we know that you may want something we haven’t got so look around for your local store. But please try to support queer businesses. It may be tempting to buy Rainbow Converse, Boohoo, Shein or Adidas stuff but they don’t really care about our community. Buy from shops that are owned and run by LGBTQ+ people. We generally put a percentage of profits back into the community and also employ queer or gender diverse staff, which allows them to be authentic at work.
Pride is a time for us to enjoy and to be ourselves. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure you’re comfortable, take a phone charger, have an agreed place to meet if you get separated from friends, and take plenty of water and sunscreen.
But also, remember that Pride started as a protest to win the rights we have now. And our rights are being challenged everywhere. Rights that were hard won by those whose shoulders we stand on. So do spare a thought for those people and say a little private thank you to them on the day. They may be at the event. And don’t take our freedoms for granted.