“Of course you’re going to need to get a dirndl”. “A what sorry?” “A dirndl, you know the kind of dress that you see everyone wearing at the Oktoberfest?”. “Just to wear to Oktoberfest? What if I don’t go to Oktoberfest?” “Nooooo Emma, you will be wearing a dirndl lots of times. In your village, at your children’s school, at many other festivals….”
The above is a small snippet of conversation that I had with our Relocation Agent shortly after we moved here. I thought she was joking. It turns out she wasn’t. People really do wear traditional dress here (or Tracht as it’s more commonly known in these parts) – not on an everyday basis (although you often see older ladies and waitresses wearing them every day, and it’s quite common to spot men wearing lederhosen as well), but it’s worn to many many different occasions, not just the bier fests, and you will stick out if you aren’t wearing it!
I have yet to buy one for myself, (which I will of course report back on when I do), but today was the turn of The Six Year Old, who needs one for a History Day at school next week.
Stepping into our first Trachten (traditional wear) Shop I was quite taken aback by the rows and rows of gorgeous designs on display. Forget any kind of cheap Benny Hill image you have in your head of this outfit, these beautiful handmade dresses and intricate blouses will set you back a pretty penny! As well as a myriad of colours, they come in different lengths too – long for the older lady or the more conservative, just above or below the knee for the younger lady, and a shorter length for teenagers with sickeningly perfect figures (or for tourists to take back home for fancy dress)!
A word of warning… never ever tie a dirndl bow at the back. No sooner had I managed to blackmail The 6 Year Old into her very cute little dirndl and stood back to admire my beautiful little Heidi, than the shopkeeper came rushing over to undo the bow and rapidly re-tie it at the front. Tying it at the back means you are widowed apparently, which for a 6 year old is quite impressive if not a little sad. To the left implies you are single, to the right means you are spoken for!
Heels are not usually worn with them either (not that The 6 Year Old need worry about that)… I was quite puzzled by this until a friend pointed out that you need something flat and comfortable to wear as you will be spending a lot of the time stamping about and dancing on a wooden bench!!
Much to my husband’s relief (but my disappointment) he can get away without a full lederhosen set. Apparently most men of his age just wear a checked shirt with jeans, but little does The 4 Year Old realise that he does need a set! I will take him shopping for them soon enough, and I can’t wait!!
Not the best picture, but we ended up with the one on the right (obviously, because the others would have been far too big!)…
(edited to add that apparently if your bow is tied at the front, you are announcing to the world that you are indeed a virgin ;) ! )