InStyle Beauty Director Kahlana Barfield just got back from the 20th annual Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and gave us a serious case of travel envy! After dishing on all the unforgettable performances by artists such as Prince and Lionel Richie—and her hang out session with Solange Knowles (above)—the beauty expert got down to the serious business of filling us in on the key items she stowed in her suitcase to keep her looking her best throughout the Independence Day weekend event. Her fashion and beauty essentials ranged from a cool, distressed denim skirt, a bold red lip gloss, and, of course, practical yet stylish footwear.

Here is her four-step guide to looking cool in the Big Easy.

Step 1. Lay out some fun festival attire to kick off the landmark event:

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Step 2. Go shopping (of course!) at Solange’s boutique, Exodus Goods. “The store has such a mix of cool eclectic clothing and accessories!” Barfield says:

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Step 3. Stroll in your comfy flats until you find some coordinating scenery. “It ain’t easy being green,” she captioned this Instagram shot:

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Step 4. Ditch the practical heels at least once. Check out the embellished Alaïa sandals she wore to the CoverGirl #GirlsCan event, where Janelle Monáe spoke:

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Click through the gallery to see more of Barfield’s festival fashion and beauty must-haves.