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What is “cool” these days? The TikTok-ification of edgy aesthetics makes it hard to know what people in the underground scene are actually wearing, so the crowd is rebelling by pushing the limits further and further away from the mainstream.

Take a rave, for example. After ending up at an abandoned cinema last weekend and not knowing exactly what I was signing up for, I found myself sticking out like a sore thumb. However, my inner ethnographer came out to play, picking up on what the ravers were wearing alongside their slicked back hair, belly button piercings and bleached brows.

Thankfully, a lot of the goods can be thrifted or found in the wardrobes of a daggy older relative, but also outsourced from under-the-radar brands and their more popular counterparts. Whether you find yourself at a warehouse, a doof or an underground bunker, here’s how to dip your toe into rave subculture.

Indoor sunglasses

Thanks to Balenciaga, the new-age speed dealer vibe has returned. You won’t be able to see, but you’ll sure as hell look neat, meaning that you can just focus on the hypertrance tracks surrounding you. These shades by Poppy Lissiman, Oakley or Rowland Vision will similarly block out strobe light — and your inner demons.

Hair ribbons

This rave trend is a nod to your primary school inner child, with hair ribbons weaved into your braids. The simple accessorising will add a pop of colour and depth to your ‘fit, but if you want to stick to a monochromatic look, an upcycled black or grey ribbon will do the job. Any craft store or newsagent will support your hair ribbon journey; otherwise collecting them on Christmas day will save you a few quid.

Thong straps

There’s an effortlessness to a low-rise moment with visible underwear straps, also known as ‘whale tails’. If chains are a smidge too Joan of Arc for your liking, a neon moment like this one from Dora Larsen will achieve the same contrast effect with a sheer satin slip or midi skirt.

New jerseys

It’s time to enter your sports-adjacent era. While the World Cup has put the spotlight on high fashion footie edits, a cyclist or motocross jersey offers a tighter fit, while a patriotic cop from a sportswear store will do double duty for pub on game night too. This Martine Rose top provides a more neutral option if you can’t pick a side.


Unfairly, jorts (jean shorts) have a bad rap in the collective consciousness. But where you gain length in hem, you can show more skin elsewhere. Pair a pair like these from Sir with an unbuttoned shirt, or layer an oversized top with longer sleeves underneath for a pop punk moment.

Gorp Water Shoes

Over the last two years, Salomon trainers have ruled the market in edgier circles, but they’ve been superseded by a cooler version of Crocs. The Merrell Hydro Moc is a proudly ugly contender that is pushing the water shoe agenda forward.

Shrug bolero

Subversive basics continue to have a chokehold and bolero shrugs strike a chord between mainstream and underground when styled correctly. Essentially, you’re working with a jumper with no chest, giving you free rein with what you pair with it.

Take it from someone who’s tried — DIY’ing a bolero by cutting an old shirt is harder than it looks. So if you’re not up for crocheting your own, this shrug bolero from ASOS will have you sorted.


Bandanas have returned to their roots — literally. The scarf top is behind us, long live the bandana being worn atop of our heads again. Whether you opt for an OG cotton paisley number, or something a bit more experimental like this scarf from This Belongs To, let your hair take a day off as you sway to the DJ.

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