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What to Pack for Essence Fest

What to Pack for Essence Fest

There is no place in the world that brings the party or the heat quite like New Orleans. Its vibrancy and color have earned the city the moniker of the northernmost point of the Caribbean. And with its rich mix of African, French, Spanish and Native American roots, it also quintessentially American. As the birthplace of jazz and gumbo, it is the ultimate place to fill out on good eats and get down to great tunes. And there is no better time for black folks to descend on the city than during the Essence Festival.

And if you are anything like us, you may be wondering what to bring with you along this journey. But never fret, we've got you covered. Here is everything you’ll need to pack for the Essence Festival.



While you are free to switch from clutch to boho to Birken bag as you and your girls rip and run through the streets in the French Quarter, in Superdome, one thing must be clear—your bag. For your safety and that of all the attendees and performers, the facility has issued a clear bag policy.

According to the festival's website, "any bag, purse, or briefcase that is larger than 12" x 6" x 12" will not be allowed into the facilities. All bags that enter must be clear with the exception of medical bags which may be subject to inspection and small clutch bags. The maximum size for a clutch bag is 4.5" x 6.5."

But if you think that you have to sacrifice cuteness for literal transparency, don't fret. Acrylic, lucite, and pvc bags have been trending for a while now. So, there is no shortage of options if you've got a lot to carry but are committed to remaining cute while doing so.



While it is true that New Orleans's boasts a tropical climate complete with high temperatures and even higher rates of humidity, that doesn't mean that you don't have to moisturize your situation.

For any high porosity natural, these levels of humidity may seem a dream. However, what one hand gives in the Big Easy, the other takes away. While your shiny skin and pillow soft hair may lead you to imagine as a goddess blissfully covered in a moisturizing dew, the searing heat of a July sun in New Orleans does its best to burn it all away.

The best way to keep yourself preserved is to apply a thick, moisturizing lotion or rich balm to freshly cleansed skin. Rich balms are particularly great for hair as well as they create a barrier to keep moisture you want in while keeping excess moisture out. Even in the 100-degree weather, natural butters and oils will leave you feeling silky and moisturized from head to toe. Looks for products that feature 'dry' feeling oils like sweet almond and jojoba and butters like mango or kokum to avod feeling greasy.



For most, a night on the town is the perfect excuse to break out your highest heels, tightest dresses, and longest lashes. However, after a long day running from the hotel to the Superdome, the meet and greet panel, and the main stage to hear Frankie Beverly and Maze, your feet are sure to be more than a little over it.

Lucky for your toes, 90s style low block heels are back in style, which means that you can enjoy the get lifted, height-wise, that is, without feeling the pinch that comes along with stilettos. Check out these pairs here, and here.

And if those aren't quite your style, you can never go wrong with the traveling divas good old fashioned standby—the espadrille. Whether you like them high or low, there is no other shoe with a style that is guaranteed to last you throughout the day to night and night to day. You can check out some styles here.



Now that your feet are covered let's get the rest of your body there too. But first, let's make one thing clear. Summertime in July means one thing and one thing only—natural fibers only. Now while we all love our favorite bodycon dresses, this is not the time to bring them out. At least during the daytime. And unless you can guarantee that air conditioning will be on full blast in the place that you are going, it is best to skip them altogether.

Instead break out your best silks, cottons, and linens. Whether you opt for shorts, miniskirts or maxi dresses, as long as the fibers were grown from the ground and not in a lab room, you should be fine. This jumpsuit from Cushnie may be just what you are looking for.

But also keep in mind, that many places in New Orleans overcompensate for the heat by blasting the air conditioning. Initially, it is always a welcome relief, but after a few minutes, you may find yourself wishing for a little wrap or jacket to stave off the cool. Try a little duster or even a crochet robe. Anything that easily slips on and off or you can tie at the waist will be your best bet from Jackson Square Park to the Superdome.

In all that packing, don't forget to leave a little room in your suitcase for some New Orleans finds. While you are there, be sure to check out some of the city's quirkiest vintage boutiques like Funky Monday and On the Other Hand. Also, be sure to check out the runway and trunk shows at the Fashion House. You may find some looks that you can sport for the rest of the weekend.



We all know what you really came here for—to glam it up and boogie down to your favorite music. But we are sure that you'd love to do so without your eyeshadow running down your cheeks. Well, here are a few steps to ensuring that you remain fully glammed up as Frankie Beverly belts out the original version of "Before I let go." 

The first two come from the beauty maven herself, Auntie Jackie. A few years ago, Jackie had the Youtube beauty world shook as she applied powder before putting on her foundation. This extra layer helped absorb sweat and oil and also gave the foundation something to stick to. This was the second step after adding primer. B.L.A.C. cosmetics offers a great naturally derived primer guaranteed to keep everything in the exact place that you want it.

After applying primer, powder, and foundation (if you choose) add another light dusting of powder before locking it in place with a setting spray. Urban Decay has long been known for their makeup preserving benefits of the All Nighter spray. Just give it a few pumps after all the glam is done and you'll be serving face, well, all night long!

So, that's it! A full list of things to pack to keep you right and ready at the Essence Festival. Be sure to eat gumbo, down a few hurricanes, and lick the powdered sugar off your fingers down at Café Du Monde. And we are confident that after the weekend is done, you'll agree that there is no better city to be in and no better time for black folks to visit than in the heat of July during Essence Fest!  




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