This may seem an usual topic for a What to Wear. It should be a given that to Oktoberfest you wear Lederhosen or a Dirndl. However, last week I still found myself asking people ‘what the hell do I wear to Oktoberfest?’ I put off ordering my Dirndl till I could be chaperoned by my German friend, so that I didn’t accidentally purchase a Hansel and Gretel monstrosity. Not everyone has the benefit of such German guidance, so I’ve gathered together a little advice on the clothing issue to help you avoid those awkward cultural faux pas’.
Never had it occurred to me to refer to a dirndl as elegant until I encountered the Oktoberfest Committee, they were insistent on this adjective. With that criteria, please don’t let those hemlines creep above you’re knee. I’ve been reliably informed that a truly traditional dirndl, features a button bodice rather than a lace up, yet unless you are 100% certain of the sizing, I’ll advise playing it safe with ribbon. On the plus size you’ll be future proofing you’re dirndl from that giant piece of chocolate cake you eat before next years Oktoberfest. One of the most important aspects of your outfit is you apron, be sure to get the knot in the right place to avoid any forward advances from a charming German man: knot on the left if you’re single and right if you’re taken.
For Oktoberfest the boys have two options: Lederhosen or Knickerbockers. For the knee conscious, invest in the Knickerbocker, the dress more acquainted with a rural lumberjack, hitting below your knee. However, for those keen to show of there long and elegant legs, the Lederhosen is your new best friend. A traditional pair will be leather, and under no circumstances are you to wash them. The more mud, dirt, grime the better. This leads me into the next point, whatever you do, do not buy a second hand pair of Lederhosen on Ebay, it was explained to me as ‘equivalent to wearing someone else skin’, not a pretty picture. Top the outfit of with knitted knee high socks, lacking the traditional ones, a pair of hunting socks or rugby socks will make do. Keep the tone of your shirt muted, a blue and white check works well, this isn’t the best occasion for the traditional St. Andrews crisp white shirt. Finally, keep yourself toasty in Kinkell with a tweed or linen jacket, beige or green are the colour routes I’d advise, but if you feel like getting more creative this is the area to indulge it.
Last Minute Panic:
If you’ve left it too late to order you’re dirndl, have no fear DIYing an outfit is perfectly acceptable, and possibly a better alternative to a cheap amazon variety. With a white blouse, a vest top, midi skirt and an apron; or a nice dress and apron, you may give a true german a heart-attack, but at the cultural melting pot that is the St. Andrews Oktoberfest no-one will blink an eye-lid. Just please stick to muted tones, this isn’t the place for denim or fluorescent pink. For the boys, get charity shop rummaging, a pair of brown trousers or cords, hemmed at the knee, will deceive any beer bleary eye.
Footwear has been my final panic for this event, and I have come to the conclusion that anything goes. For the girls, while pumps are preferable in keeping with the feminine vibe of the dress, a pair of trainers will allow for more enthusiastic dancing. My only plea is to leave the heels at home, this is not the time. For the guys, suede loafers are the traditional footwear, however beyond impractical for Kinkell. A pair of battered loafers, moccasins, or anything in brown leather are a safe bet.
Hopefully I have helped clear away some of the cobwebs and myths surrounding what to wear to Oktoberfest. All that is left to do is grab a stein and start the merriment.