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Need advice for how to dress in Germany

(18 Posts)
ScandiCinnamon Wed 23-Nov-16 08:45:24

Not sure where to post...but was hoping someone on this board would know....

We (dp and dc's) are going to Hamburg, Germany over New Year and will attend a fancy dinner party in someone's house, birthday party with the dress code extravagant confused and also a New Years party in a restaurant......

I have not been to Germany for years and certainly not to any fancy/formal events so have no clue how people dress there when they go out/dress up. I loathe feeling out of place in what I wear so would really appreciate some advice.......

MooMinCow Wed 23-Nov-16 09:41:56

Hi. I visit Bavaria regularly and I find the locals dress very casually (and for comfort) Any parties/restaurants/bars I've been to have been full of people in jeans/boots/jumpers. Women don't tend to wear full on makeup either, it's all quite understated and natural.

As you have been given a dress code for certain events, stick to that (maybe you can get in touch with the hosts and ask them exactly what the dress code is) but for anything else I would just take jeans, smart boots and maybe a nice blouse/shirt. Don't forget thermals, jumpers and cardis as it can snow.

I also find a red lipstick in your handbag is great if you turn up somewhere and feel a bit underdressed - makes you look instantly festive.

I wouldn't worry too much about it. I've always found the Germans very warm, friendly and accepting hosts. Have a great time.

80sWaistcoat Wed 23-Nov-16 09:47:58

You may well find that a lot of people are dressed in traditional bavarian gear - I was quite surprised in Munich by how many men were wearing leiderhosen and women a dirndl. My mate Head Office is in Germany and when he goes across to their summer BBQ leiderhosen is expected and encouraged. He hasn't so far.

You might get some help in the Living Overseas thread.

I'd have thought you'd get away with a little black dress and lots of fake/real sparkly jewellry.

ScandiCinnamon Wed 23-Nov-16 09:58:06

Thank you MooMinCow and 80's Waistcoat and good tip re the Living Overseas thread. I had no idea there was such a thread.

Trying to picture DP in lederhosen..........shock

botemp Wed 23-Nov-16 09:59:27

It really depends, usually I'd say Germans dress quite low key and casual but they take Christmas very seriously and subsequently the holiday period. Also depends on income/social class. Despite it being somewhat more formal than normal money tends to be spent on jewelry (and fur) rather than fashion items or extravagant gowns. I'd say if in doubt contact the hosts, but even if you don't they won't look at you unfavourably if you simply adhere to the dress code as you would back in the UK. As mentioned above a simple dress in a good material with statement jewellery should see you through both events.

CardiCorgi Wed 23-Nov-16 10:13:57

No no no to lederhosen in Hamburg, it's the other end of the country! As everyone else has said Germans tend to be casual, but check with your hosts for the more formal events - our office has one do a year where it's full on red carpet glamour (then back to jeans and sweatshirts).
Also check the weather forecast before you set off as it can get rather cold up there. Enjoy the trip.

pourmeanotherdrink Wed 23-Nov-16 10:35:02

Cardi is right, definitely no Lederhosen in Hamburg (or elsewhere on any tourist ever except for during Oktoberfest). Also, the only people I still see wearing fur are older women and Russian tourists, so no to that as well.

Typical Hamburg style is all about understated elegance, no big logos, no bling, no garish colours, no towering heels. Think clean lines, good fabrics, lots of navy/grey/beige/cream, Scandi brands and pearl earrings.

IamNotDarling Wed 23-Nov-16 10:46:11

Defo smart-casual. German women (Berlin/Munich) I know have good quality classic clothes, think cashmere jumpers, good quality leather boots - knee or ankle but low heels or flat, smart taliored jacket with nice accessories (Contemporary or classic).

Agree on the make up front, natural tones. I have a friend who couldn't believe how big my make up bag is when all she has is a tub of Nivea, a lip balm and some brown mascara but she is bloody gorgeous.

IamNotDarling Wed 23-Nov-16 10:49:19

Do you know any other guests so you can check the dinner party etiquette? I'm sure it's just take a bottle of wine, but always good to check. I have one friend who spends a lot of time choosing wine but I'm not sure if she's just incredibly thoughtful.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 23-Nov-16 11:15:10

A friend who has hosted German women learning English in UK and they came for dinner and out, so I noticed this:-

Understated but styled makeup/hair nothing garish
Clothes, again expensive looking but classic styles, you could look at a trouser suit or velvet dress etc...
If you have time when there look for clothes in German shops can't think of any offhand but my stepdad used to go there a lot on business and bring clothes back for me and my mum, even in markets their clothes I found far better, classic etc.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 23-Nov-16 11:16:15

I'd perhaps visit a bobbi brown or Laura Mercier counter for makeup ideas as they seem very classic and glossy. You want expensive chic not garish red lipstick.

80sWaistcoat Wed 23-Nov-16 14:30:37

Oops - it was me with the leidershosen misdirection - for some reason I'd read Munich rather than Hamburg. Sorry ...

Summertime1 Wed 23-Nov-16 14:47:27

Yes, ladies Lederhosen can look good imo!

Florathefern Wed 23-Nov-16 15:23:59

i was in a similar position a few years ago and decided to veer towards the casual end instead of the glam side. It was the most uncomfortable evening as I felt so I derdressed. Lesson learned though, I will always overdress if unsure again. A nice black dress is always a safe bet with heels? I'd interpret 'extravagant' as going full on with heels, jewellery, hair upstyle etc?

Archfarchnad Wed 23-Nov-16 15:45:24

LOL to the idea of your DP turning up in Lederhosen in Hamburg!

This sums up what you should be aiming for:

"Typical Hamburg style is all about understated elegance, no big logos, no bling, no garish colours, no towering heels. Think clean lines, good fabrics, lots of navy/grey/beige/cream, Scandi brands and pearl earrings."

However, 'extravagant' is really a little unusual as a dress code for Germany, and is a definite warning to go for something comparatively formal - no jeans here! Germans WILL dress up for a 'ball-like' situation, just maybe a bit more subdued than the British/American style. I was at my DD's Abiball (high school graduation ball) in summer and ALL the teenies were wearing suits/ties and floor-length dresses.

So I'd recommend a fairly modest-length LBD (not bodycon) of a high-quality brand - preferably organic cotton hand-woven by a Bolivian Fairtrade women's collective (you get the gist). Germans ARE brand conscious, it's just more subtle and very into virtue-signalling. Definitely 'nude' make up but with a bit of subtly glitzy highlighting on the brows. Heels good, but nothing too blingy or high - you should be screaming 'classy', not tottering. Remember that Hamburg at that time of year will be VERY cold, so a decent long warm coat - definitely NOT real fur, but wool is good - plus stylish winter hat (something you can put on without ruining your hair), scarf and gloves.

DavidPuddy Wed 23-Nov-16 16:01:46

Hamburg is the smarter city in Germany. Hambueg women look more stylish and groomed than Berlin women, is a typical perception.

If you wear anything too short or too revealing they will scorn you as dressing British. They will also think you ridiculous if you look cold, i.e. you don't wear coat, scarf, gloves and hat when travelling to and from venues.

Florathefern Wed 23-Nov-16 16:13:02

I think not wearing a coat and dressing for the weather is a perculiar British thing. Some friends and I regularly played a game of 'Spot the English' when out and out in different European cities. We marvelled rather than scorned though. We shivered just looking at them.

RockNRollNerd Wed 23-Nov-16 16:22:55

Agree with the dressing for the weather - Germans absolutely do not do the 'freezing for the sake of fashion' thing. It's perfectly acceptable to trundle between bars/venues bundled up in hat, scarf, gloves, winter coat etc.

I would definitely ask advice about what they mean by 'extravagent' is it potentially black tie type stuff. If necessary and you know the people well ask them to send you some examples of the type of stuff they're expecting. Ditto for the restaurant on NY, it may well be dressier than standard German going out wear which I agree with others is generally far more casual (but smarter iyswim) than in the UK.

The last time I was at a formal do in Germany was a wedding where my friend asked especially if DH and I could dress as for an English wedding so her friend who had lived and worked in the UK could justify getting dressed up in her hat and summery wedding frock. We were sat at a table in full on '4 weddings' finery with a wide variety of clothes including that peculiar tweedy/applique jacket that German ladies of a certain age are so fond of and another lady in her 30s who was wearing double denim but in a tailored suit style!

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