We live in a sad day where there exists only one appropriate place and time to don our trachten—traditional garments from German-speaking countries—to casually stroll and stumble from A to B. This place and time, of course, is Oktoberfest.
While the notion that one can’t wear leather short shorts with overalls every day is absolutely absurd, there is something to be said for the sacred exclusivity of the privilege. Moses Wolff, author of Meet Me in Munich: A Beer Lover’s Guide to Oktoberfest, reassures us that traditional Bavarian garb is encouraged for locals and guests alike. “Unfortunately,” he writes, “many visitors believe that Oktoberfest is similar to Fasching or Karnival, and show up in bunny costumes, togas, or as Spiderman. You should avoid this if at all possible, because it simply doesn’t belong in a beer tent.”
Alright, so no bunny suits or Spiderman.
Trachten are comparable to kilts in Scotland; their intricacies are indicative of particular families, regions or cultures. For the sake of our Millennial-level attention span, we’ll break it down to the most general of garb.
Fun to say; more fun to wear. Originally purposed for peasant workers, riders and hunters, lederhosen are defined by their sturdy leather stitch work and embroidery. There are two primary types of lederhosen: bundlederne (longer) and kurze (shorter). When deciding between the two, just ask yourself: Are my knees sexy? If the answer is yes, kurze is for you.
Perhaps the best identifier of lederhosen is the front flap. That’s fairly self-explanatory, but it’s worth mentioning just how much cooler a flap is than a zipper.
A solid, genuine pair of lederhosen can cost up to $1,000, so proper care is key. On this, Wolff writes, “If you don’t have time or are not good at laundry, you can also get yourself a goat… It will lick the lederhosen clean because it thinks there is high-quality, mineral-rich salt in them. Sometimes the animal is right, but sometimes not.”
Maybe a bunny outfit wouldn’t be so bad after all…
While lederhosen are becoming more commonplace for both genders at Oktoberfest, the dirndls are almost exclusively rocked by the ladies. What began as traditional wear for servants soon found its way into the upper classes, with all the frills and colors added for flare. The Oktoberfester may find their sweet spot somewhere in-between; a blouse, bodice, full skirt and an apron are the ingredients for proper dirndl wear.
Wolff’s advice about length: “If your skirt must be short, it should at least cover your knees. Only shepherdesses who don’t want to trip while climbing mountains have a good excuse to wear their skirts any shorter.” In essence, the outfit is less about flaunting a figure and more about complementing it with “the lovely décolletage”.
BONUS: The “Bow Code”
“You can read a marital status of a lady in the bow of her dirndl apron,” Wolff writes. A bow in the back identifies a widow. Worn in the front, the wearer is single. To the right: taken. *The More You Know*
Dress the Part
Oktoberfest is a time to be cheerful; your clothing should reflect such. This is a celebration of beer, culture, beer, history and beer. Find a good hat with a good feather, solid haferl shoes for dancing to the sweet, sweet sounds of the tuba, and let your pride shine. You’re at the world’s best party, where everyone is welcome.
Everyone not in a toga, that is.
Get your lederhosen ready–we’re going to Oktoberfest! Join us before space runs out!