*Header photo by Israel Chukwu @jrchuks
I’m ashamed to say I’ve only been to Carnival once…and that was all the way back in 2012. I think we can all agree that the annual event is the highlight of every Londoner’s summer, commencing the official end of the season of hangovers and tan-lines. For all of y’all who’ve been living under a rock, Notting Hill Carnival aka Carnival aka Carni, is essentially a day festival with parades and events spread over the August bank holiday celebrating black culture, and a reminder of your West Indian and Pan-African roots. With a variety of sound systems including: DnB, Jungle, Soca, Grime, Afro Beats, Ska, Rock-Steady and Reggae and various food vendors, in the heart of West London people of all ages and ethnicities can come together.
Originally, Carnival was a political event against the racial riots in the 50s bringing the black community together to fought against the rampant racism that existed at the time due to the mass Commonwealth immigration. As you may know over the past few years, Carnival has surpassed it’s true meaning, and become more about how you look and who you’re seen with. Sadly as superficial as it sounds, people do use it as an opportunity to ‘pop style’. Other than the breath-taking costumes and hyped floats, I can promise you will see a plethora of bloggers, models and up-and-coming influencers posing endlessly in lavish gear and doing the most for the clout, not for carnival itself. Plus a majority of them probably don’t even know the history of it either. And okay I get it, you want to look good, who doesn’t? But just don’t allow that to become the centre of your carnival experience. Anyhow, here I have put together a few affordable outfits for both ladies and gents. You’re a student, broke as hell, rent in London is abominable, but you still wanna look fitting- I get it, don’t worry I got ya back.
I just want to remind you that although some of these price tags may seem like nothing to you, doesn’t mean it does to others. These outfit ideas are affordable not cheap– it has an open range. So just keep that in mind. Also, these outfits aren’t going to be for everyone which is OKAY! This isn’t intended to tell you you have to dress like this to Carnival at all, just some ideas. Always keep a sense of individuality and wear what ever makes you feel comfortable.
Going for a more streetwear style, I decided to couple this DONE London graphic tee with camo combat/cargo (whatever you call them) trousers. The loose fit of these will leave an airy feeling, ideal for the blazing sun Carnival usually brings. Sticking with the Caribbean theme, I decided to add some subtle tropical print with the bumbag and slides. I kept accessories to the min, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking so don’t want anything too heavy, and the ASOS bandana gives it that 90s edge.
- Alpha Industries AGENT Cargo trousers, £42.49, Zalando
- SOUTH® Drippy Wizard T-Shirt, £25, DONE London
- Eastpak Springer Brize Leaf, £22, Shopimex
- Nike Benassi JDI Slide Sandal (Black/White), £19.99, Footasylum
- ASOS Bandana In Black Paisley, £6
- [Skull Ring] 3S-RA3704, £5.27, Crazy Factory
- [Claw Ring] 3S-RN3862, £5.80, Crazy Factory
- Double Layer Geometric Necklace, £2.80, Boohoo Man
- REEBOK CREW SOCK, £6.95
Funking it up a little bit, I opted in for an ‘in-your-face’ printed shirt paired with tapered ripped jeans and air max 97s for a modern 90s Californian Hipster look. Whilst the simplicity of the belt and necklace gives it an effortlessly stylish finish, the boldness of the sunnies and lion ring adds a fun and daring touch to it. The jeans could easily be interchanged with a pair of denim short and the shoes with your favourite sneakers.
- Nike Air Max 97 Trainer (Cool Grey/Black/White), £144.99, FootAsylum
- Reclaimed Vintage Inspired Short Sleeve Neon Leaf Print Shirt, £40, ASOS
- Light Wash Camouflage Patch Tapered Jeans, £18, TOPMAN
- Mirrored sunglasses, £9.99, Bershka
- Padlock Charm Necklace, £12.06, JewelryByRogue on Etsy
- Originals Crew Socks, £12.95
- Spikes Stainless Steel Lion Head Biker Ring, £14.95, BodyCandy Jewelry
- Drawstring Bag (Navy/Fluro Lime), £10.49, Superdry
- Nocona Men’s Pecos USA Black Belt, from £15.68, Amazon
Going for a more edgy vibe, I’ve gone for a clash of textures with the holographic and the fishnet. The iridescence of the silvers adds an eccentric element to the outfit, whilst the neutrality of the black keeps it looking classy and put-together. For accessories I’ve kept them minimal but still fitting in with the outlandish theme and added a pair of 90s reproduction sunnies. The bikini can easily be replaced with shorts and a boob tube if you want to feel more comfortable.
- DR Martens Silver Pascal Rs 8 Eye Metallic Boots, £74.99, Schuh
- Black Fishnet Mesh Long Sleeved Bodycon Dresss, £12, Pretty Little Thing
- Silver Holographic Bumbag, £9.74, Hype.
- Contrast Mesh Bikini Set, £10.99, Shein
- Narrow Colourful Alien Thin Vintage Sci-Fi Sunglasses, £9.43, itGirl Clothing
- Hand & Elephant 10 Ring Pack, £8, Boohoo
- Maleficent Chunky Choker, £9.99, Shop Moon Child
Staying true to the cultural theme, I’ve paired a Rasta halter neck with cropped flares and Sketchers, giving this outfit authentic 90s vibes. The richness of the scrunchie adds to the boldness of the outfit whilst the muteness of socks and silver jewellery tones it down and makes it wearable. The jeans can be swapped for your everyday black skinnies.
- Sketchers Navy & Black D’Lites Trainers, £64, Schuh
- Club Tropicana Rasta Crochet Bralet, £16, The Moon Child
- Key Chain, £4.85, Amazon
- Dragon Pewter Dread Bead, $3.97, DreadHeadHQ
- High Waist Kick Flare Jeans, £25.99, Bershka
- @bobblelady Bottle Green Velvet Scrunchie, £1.80, Depop
- @fashionapple BN 925 Silver Plated Star Dangle Earrings, Depop
I’m gonna keep it 100 with you, Carni is not for the light-hearted. Sunday intentionally meant to be the ‘Kids day‘ is really just a slightly softer version of how hardcore Monday’s parade gets. To be honest, ‘Kids Day‘ really isn’t Kids Day. You will see humping, pounding and gyrating- it’s just the way it is. It can get kinda crazy at times… If you’re a girl, there’s a 98% chance you will be grabbed and daggered. If you’re a guy you will for sure catch a whine whether you want to or not. I mean, it’s not always like this of course, but it’s a very likely possibility. Another thing to note is there really isn’t anywhere for you to go to the toilet, soooo if you have/can get a base, I highly recommend you do. Then some no brainers like bring cash, use suncream, go in packs of at least 3/4, if someone’s persistently harassing you or something’s gonna kick off, there’s police around so doesn’t matter if you’re “that snitch”, go and tell someone. That said, Carnival‘s basically about having fun, staying safe and embracing the culture London tends to forget.
Notting Hill Carnival takes place on Sunday 26th August and Monday 27th August. Times will be released nearer the date. Don’t forget to tag us in your outfits if you take inspo from these!
Words by My Superiority Complex