The beginning of September means, that the Freibad is closing soon, I will start getting told off for not wearing a coat by my elderly neighbours, Four seasons in one day, everyday…..and Autumn Volksfest season!
At this time of the year you can’t help but notice the influx of blue and white checks, the leather trousers, the golden pretzels and the milk maid-esque dresses. If you have missed it, maybe open your eyes and get out of the house a little more.
Since I started my German life in Bavaria, I’m probably a little more comfortable with the whole Tracht (German traditional wear) thing than say, those who live in Berlin. Within six months both MrC and I were fully decked out, he in his lederhosen and me in my Dirndl, and whilst that probably makes us sound like insufferable tourists it did actually make us feel more like we fitted in, especially around German friends (who were wearing the same). It’s all part of embracing my new home for me and if you want to get decked out this post will hopefully be useful to you.
Tracht is much more than just lederhosen and Dirndl dresses, but that’s a good place to start. Honestly, whatever your age, figure or style, there is (practically) something for everyone.
A common concern is spending a lot of money on something you only wear once, if you are only in the country for a short time I get it, but just think of the great halloween costume or souvenir of Germany you’ll have in your wardrobe. You can always sell it on Ebay or to the next lot of expats passing through!
Budget options are available, you don’t have to spend a fortune if you don’t want to. A Dirndl can set you back anything from 40 euro upwards, depending on the shop, you might see some for 4 figures! Be aware that with Tracht you generally get what you pay for, if you want an outfit that will see you through a few years of festivals, it is worth paying a little extra once, than having to shell out again once it falls apart.
Second hand shops – Caritas, Oxfam etc Definitely places worth checking, particularly around Oktoberfest time (early September onwards), whilst you are less likely to find lederhosen (because those things are for life!) Dirndl, blouses/shirts, jackets, waistcoats, shoes and accessories are all up for the taking.
Erlangen Dirndl Garage – They mainly stock last years Tracht, hello lovely discounted prices, good news is that the styles are so timeless that no one will even know if you’re wearing last seasons anyway! Really friendly and very knowledgable about the best cut for you. Be sure to check their website for opening times, they are not a year round business.
NKD – Have an Oktoberfest range which has something for the whole family.
Bonprix – Also have an Oktoberfest range which has some interesting options beyond traditional Tracht. Lederhosen style jeans and T-shirt dirndl dresses for a start.
C&A – Some branches stock Tracht year round, so keep your eye out for sales. Males and female styles are usually not separated in C&A, definitely easier if you want to co-ordinate with your partner.
Wirkes – This is a specialist Tracht shop. They only have stores in Bayern, but I would go out of my way to recommend them to anyone, for quality, choice and staff who know what they are doing. The closest to Stuttgart are Würzberg and Augsberg, definitely worth a trip. They are open year round.
Most shops offer a full mens outfit for a fixed price of around 200 euro, which sounds a lot, but a pair of lederhosen are meant to last a lifetime, compare it to the cost of buying a leather jacket. The set includes lederhosen (short or long) in various colours, with braces (usually in two styles to choose from), check shirt (matching your girl is always the way to go), suede traditional style shoes and socks.
Other shops that stock Tracht at this time of the year include Galeria Kaufhof, Karstad, Frankonia, Krüger and S.Oliver. Discount shops like Lidl and Netto also have Tracht as part of their ‘fancy goods’ around this time of year, a cheap goldmine but it can sell out fast. Good old Tchibo also has a Tracht range every year, is there anything they don’t do?
Now is a perfect time to go Tracht shopping, the stuff will be everywhere. As with everything though in the sales you can pick up some absolute bargains, after Oktoberfest as well as spring the following year are the best times to pick some discounted Tracht.
Incidentally this is the perfect time to pick up those oh so tacky and delightful ‘traditional German’ knick knacks, which your friends and family will find
hilarious quaint and thoughtful when they receive them at Christmas.
Have I convinced you to do Tracht at your local Volksfest or Kirchweih?