Aaahhhh, Reading. That glorious weekend where, for a few sunny [perhaps] days you can forget your worldly woes, throw hygiene to the wind and rock out for the weekend, oblivious to the fact that by Sunday you probably smell like the underside of a pig's trotter.
Shyeaah. Fuck that for a laugh. For the less... uh... aesthetically intrepid, you CAN have a great time at Reading/Leeds and look [and smell] marvellous - well, more marvellous than everyone else around you, at least. That's gotta be worth something. And you don't need to employ a vast amount of effort or be the irritating wench who brings her entire bathroom cabinet with her. If you're taking the time to read this at all, your main concerns are probably personal hygiene, clothes/makeup/hair and those dreaded words, The Toilets. Let's tackle the most frightening one first.
Fact: Reading's festie loos are minging. There's no getting away from this fact. They won't be very nice at the start of the festival, and they'll be damn well horrid by the end. [In fact they may well get blown up on Sunday night by rampaging drunken loons, so steer well clear.] They ARE passable at the start of the festival, but I'd suggest you go for the slightly-out-of-the-way ones, as they'll not have had as much..er..use. If you really can't bring yourself to use them [and I feel your pain, as I will not be venturing near one of the damn things all weekend], there's a very simple solution. Use a pub. The festival's in the middle of a town, they're really not that hard to find. There's one at the bottom on Richfield Avenue, which in previous years has always been found to be clean and well stocked with loo paper. But for courtesy's sake, buy a pint and a bag of crisps before you make use of their loos, as the owners are very sweet people and it would be nice. Take precautions though, and bring a healthy supply of loo paper.
Bring: loo paper!!
Going without washing for a few days is an alarming prospect. It's also an unnecessary one. We don't suggest that you bring your sponge, shower gel, exfoliating scrub, shower cap et al with you, but there are showers on site, so it'd be worth bringing some soap and a flannel. If you don't fancy the showers and the long queues that accompany them, I cannot heap enough praise on the wondrous invention that are baby wipes. Buy a pack and use them liberally; they're great for your face or body, and won't leave your skin too dry [so don't bother bringing a moisturiser]. And bring a decent deodorant.
Bring: deodorant, soap & flannel and/or baby wipes.
Don't bring: shower gel, anything fancy that requires more than a couple of minutes to use in the shower.
Now we reach that most girly of dilemmas. How do you maintain some visual dignity without being the mockery of your stout and grubby companions for the duration of the weekend? It's all about practicality and discretion.
You do not need to bring every item you own. Nor should you rely on one t-shirt and a trusty pair of jeans - if you do this, Sod's Law WILL kick in and you'll get soaked and covered with mud in a freak hurricane and spend the rest of the festival feeling yucky and miserable. I'd recommend two pairs of jeans/trousers so that you have a change of clothes if you need it, and two or three t-shirts/vest-tops. Note: don't go for excessively baggy trousers, because when they inevitably drag on the ground and get wet, the water will soak all the way up to your knees and you will cry. It's also worth bringing a knee-length skirt or a summery dress, as it'll be more comfortable than trousers if the weather is scorching, and a warm jacket/fleece for when it gets colder at night - you can get extra use out of it by wrapping it round a small inflatable cushion for that smug "I've got a pillow and you haven't" feeling.
If you want to keep your load as small as possible, there are plenty of on-site stalls selling reasonably priced clothes [expect lots of MAP vests and slogan t-shirts] so if you've got the cash to spare, bring as little as possible and buy what you need there. It may be worth bringing/buying a separate change of clothes for the journey home, so as to re-enter the world of civilisation looking human. Do not - and I can't stress this enough - DO NOT bring shoes with heels to the festival, or you will be this year's incarnation of that perennial festival stereotype - the girl who has worn completely impractical clothes and is tottering around in the mud looking unhappy. If it can happen to Denise Van Outen, it can happen to you. Check the weather forecase in advance, and depending on the outlook, bring trainers [fairly sturdy ones, you don't want to wander around with squelchy feet if it rains], boots or wellies.
Bring: jeans, a skirt, a few light tops, a warm jacket and sturdy footwear - and sun lotion!
Don't bring: anything remotely silly or impractical - high heels, flimsy skirts, massive trousers.
It's a brave girl who can get through the entire festival without makeup, and I salute her. I however, wouldn't be caught dead. If you are of the same mindset, I suggest bringing as many 2-in-1 products as possible. Vaseline is fantastic as lipsalve/gloss, eyegloss, hand cream, and in an extreme emergency, a hair gel/slick, though it'll make your hair very greasy so avoid that if possible. A compact mirror, a small stick of concealer, some mascara, an eyebrow pencil [a dark colour doubles as a light kohl pencil] and if you're a true makeup junkie, a SMALL palette of eyeshadow should otherwise be all you need. Don't bring posh foundation, it'll just melt off your face in the sun and probably empty itself throughout your bag.
Bring: vaseline, a mirror, eyebrow pencil, concealer.
Don't bring: foundation, powder, posh stuff [it'll get ruined or nicked], moisturiser.
Unless you've got very dry hair, your hair will probably be quite yucky by the time the festival finishes. There are two ways to deal with this. The first, and most startlingly obvious method, is to wash it. If you don't fancy queuing for showers there are cold-water taps at various points across the campsite - however the ground around them will be very wet and boggy so be warned. If you don't fancy such kerfuffle, the alternative is to bring a small array of hairbands, and stick your hair in plaits/corn-rows/pigtails for the weekend, or if you've got short hair, a good quality styling product that'll render your hair immune to any sartorial disaster. If you can be bothered, you could bring a dry shampoo, which soaks up grease, but it's not really worth the effort, for £5 the effect doesn't last that long.
Bring: hairbands, a comb, shampoo if you can be bothered.
Don't bring: anything that requires much time or effort.
Chances are, you'll be at the festival to have fun, see some bands, get a bit pissed and generally rock out for the weekend. There's not much point in spending the whole time worrying about how you look - chances are, if you make any effort whatsoever, the vast majority of the festival population will look far worse than you. Bring what you feel you need but don't overdo it; ultimately makeup slides off, clothes do get muddy and wet, and you'll have a lot more fun if you just kick back for the weekend and relax; I speak from experience when I say that there's no fun to be had tiptoeing around worrying about how your skin looks.