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In part 1 of the Oktoberfest survival guide I talked you through the preparations before the festival. If you followed all suggestions you should be all set for your trip to Munich in September. This part will focus on the traditional outfits most people (including tourists) wear to the festival, Dirndls for the girls and Lederhosen for the boys.
There are many rules to be followed and I will focus mainly on Girls, although I have a few tips for the boys at the end:
- Just to clarify, 99% of Dirndls you will see at Oktoberfest have about as much in common with the real traditional dresses as a pint of Guinness has with a real Bavarian Mass. They are modern takes on the real deal but are still very pretty and wearing one of them will double your fun, promise!
- If you want to wear traditional outfits then buy them in one of the dozens of second hand or budget Trachten shops that pop up all over Munich in the months and weeks leading up to Oktoberfest. Do not buy them online as they really need to fit and you have to try them on yourself. You can pick up a whole set of dress, blouse and apron for €50 – €100.
- You have probably never worn a real Dirndl before so get advice from the staff. There are long and short dresses out there, both are fine but it shouldn’t be much shorter than just above the knee, it just looks wrong. Also make sure the dress isn’t too tight as you will want to fit a few litres of beer and some sausages in there.
- The main focus will be on your cleavage so make sure the dress fits properly. There is no shame in wearing the biggest, baddest push-up bra you can find to enhance the view, there are even special Dirndl bras that lift and squeeze everything into the spotlight.
- You can pick from all the colours of the rainbow but I would avoid any too flashy modern trends like animal print dresses and aprons, it just looks tacky. In recent years a new trend has sprung up of wearing coloured or black blouses. This is a personal choice but I would always recommend a nice white blouse, it’s just more traditional.
- Every Dirndl comes with an apron, but don’t just wrap it around and tie it any old way. The position of the bow lets people know about your relationship status! Tied on the right means in a relationship or married and tied on the left means you’re single!
- One word of advice for the girls: Under no circumstances, never ever wear the Dirndl dress without the Dirndl blouse! It’s a complete no-no and you will get sneered at.
- Now let’s talk about accessories. There is always much debate as to what type of shoes to wear with your Dirndl. Personally I prefer to wear big chunky leather boots like Timberlands as they look nice and protect your feet from drunk, staggering people, broken glass and puke. Many girls wear high heels which can look nice too but I just can’t be bothered and would rather be comfortable. Trainers are generally not a good idea, although Converse can work if the colour matches. Ballerinas are also very cute, just look out where you’re walking and make sure nobody steps on your feet. Flip flops are definitely a no-no as are Ugg boots and crocs (crocs are always a no-no).
- You will also want some jewellery. The most important is a nice necklace which matches your dress and draws (even more) attention to your cleavage. You can buy cheap and cheerful ones in the Dirndl shops or just make a matching one yourself.
- Bags are also very important. Some girls manage to fit everything into a teeny tiny clutch bag but personally I like to bring a cross body bag which is easier to look after. Make sure you can close it properly so no pick pockets can get into it. My friends usually laugh at me because I am über prepared; I bring pain killers and plasters, tissues, water, lip gloss and a mirror and am well-known for bringing my tooth brush and tooth paste (you spend the whole day there and it’s nice to freshen up, right?)
- You can bring a cardigan or jacket (or a traditional Janker) as it can get cool at night, but honestly, after a few Mass (steins) your beer jacket will keep you nice and cosy anyway.
- As for styling, be natural. Up-dos are quite popular as are pig tails. Just don’t tart yourself up too much. Sometimes less is more, especially when your layers of make-up are running down your face in a sweaty beer tent.
Now to the boys:
- There is just as much choice out there as for the girls. Unfortunately, Lederhosen are really quite expensive and you probably won’t want to spend your whole beer budget on a pair of leather trousers you’ll most likely never wear again. I suggest buying second hand or finding one of the numerous deals the shops offer. You get the trousers, a shirt (usually checked), a pair of Haferlschuh (the matching shoes) and a neckerchief for around €200.
- Alternatively, you can rent a pair of Lederhosen from companies like Bavarian Outfitters or Lederhosenverleih for a few days for quite affordable prices.
- There are three different lengths of Lederhosen out there: long trousers, shorts and Kniebundhosen (these are tied just under the knee). The latter are the most flattering as they nicely show off your strong Bavarian calves. But don’t worry if your calves look more like twigs then you can always pad your knee socks which should be worn with the trousers.
- Traditionally you wear matching braces and a checked shirt with your Lederhosen. You can also accessorize with a neckerchief but be careful how and where you tie it as this can say something about your (homo)sexual preferences
- Wear leather boots like Timberlands or your hiking boots with your Lederhosen or in an emergency you can also wear your Converse. But please don’t pair your beautiful new Lederhosen with sports trainers, sandals or even flip flops!
The most important rule for girls and boys, however, is: please do not wear any fancy dress versions of Dirndls and Lederhosen. It’s just tacky and you will out yourself as a tourist immediately. No local will take you seriously, better just come in your normal clothes if you don’t want to spend the money on an outfit.
I hope this guide will help you rock your Bavarian outfits! For lots of tips on how to survive a whole day drinking stay tuned for part 3 in the series.
Would you wear a Dirndl or Lederhosen at Oktoberfest? Please leave your comments below!
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