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Obviously, there are always pluses and minuses with any national dress (by the way, do the English even *have* a national dress? And no, morris dancing costume is not what I mean.) The Welsh national dress - for women at least - was worn in day-to-day life until at least the latter half of the nineteenth century.
So, what is this dress? If you've seen a Welsh rugby match, you've probably seen it in the crowd. It's comprised of a warm black, red, or check skirt (to be honest, you can get away with pretty much any skirt,) a half-apron (of the kind worn by a stereotypical French maid,) a shawl (modern shawls are cotton but original shawls were usually wool, in a paisley-like (not quite paisley but that's the closest to it,) or check pattern.
And then there's the hat. The Welsh women's hat is a wonderful thing. It makes the costume. It's also literally repelled an army in the past. No, honestly - 'mam' stopped a French invasion with her hat some two hundred years ago (in Fishguard in 1797, with one lady personally capturing 12 of Napoleon's troops.) The traditional hat is puritanical in shape (think the Mayflower and American thanksgiving, only without the buckle,) black, and trimmed with lace and/or ribbon. It can also be easily mistaken (from a distance) for an old-fashioned soldier's hat - strange that. More recently, the half-bonnet (more of a Victorian style) has become intermittently popular when wearing national costume, but you could never get rid of an army with one of those - far too short.
As for the fellas, they have a sort of pseudo-costume - essentially, when St David's day comes around, all little boys are stuck into part-checked waistcoats and a Dai cap (a flat-cap, as worn by the miners and the farmers,) or stuffed unceremoniously into a Welsh rugby shirt while their parents help the girls with their aprons.
Halloween Costume Ideas
The explosion of amateur art is rife at Halloween, due to this I've concluded that a telepathic spectre from a 'Rocky Horror Show' production team from yester-year during the autumn months casts spells of ghastly costume designs to those who're prone to dressing up and deluded to think they're the 'Rembrandts of Revlon'. The occasion of horror is perfect for these types whose amateur visual displays are embraced wholeheartedly with ghastly, gory and grotesque in mind - hence, why this occasion is the world platform for the amateur to show their dire creations, thankfully talent isn't part of the parcel, the worse the visual display is, the better - plaudits even award it; well there is no limits to horror. Depicting grotesque, vile things is vital; the amateur is a master at creating horrors - horrific costumes, horrid visual make-up, a real catalogue of horrors. 'Two wrongs don't usually make a right', however at Halloween it does that's the point, and what a sight, especially at the end of the night, you get a fright when a much needed toilet visit is a vision of smudged black and reds. Yea, costumes don't exactly cater for the most common bodily requirement of urinating - Mummies don't urinate, or do large bean pods, pumpkins, any vegetation, witches, or broomsticks. The amateur designer generally forgets the most basic of human functions, of excreting fluids, while gathering up the materials, kick starting the 'Singer', drawing out the costume prototype and dealing with those intricate measurements. Done with a Shatterproof Ruler, so as it bends, you quickly learn the ruler isn't "shatterproof" - At this point the amateur pays attention to the fact that their body contours are a long way off from being angular, unlike the first blocked 1953 'Gumby' animation. After realizing your dream of morphing yourself into a cat suit is all well and good, until that is.. it dawns on cat-women whilst sucking up a 'Sauvignon Blanc' via two straws, in an attempt to avoid the whiskers created by disabling the purpose of a 'Daler Rowney' paintbrush - peeing is necessary. Odd considering a consumption of food and beverages often takes place at such occasions and therefore liquids will pass through within a certain time-frame; food and liquid frequency pending.
Our fascination with the grotesque and peculiar isn't just for October 31st either, you don't have to go out of your way to look for inspiration - the grotesque and peculiar are evident in every city centre on a pavement or a box, standing motionless; the profoundness derives when crowds stand and watch the stillness - the activity is like watching gold paint dry, literary; alas, their long-winded observation is to get ideas for costumes - the staring ritual ends abruptly as they move to take a quick picture on their handheld devices. Other amusements obstructs my walking pleasure such as a waving Alice in wonderland rabbit riding an exercise bike that blows bubbles, a moon walking Michael Jackson who looks as if he's walked out of a crypt, he operates in a cordoned off pavement area of six foot by six foot; a frosty looking 1980's 'Ghetto Blaster' plays 'Billie Jean' - his mechanical moves smooth and not rusty the only giveaway he'd not really been in a crypt for four years. Street performers invade pavements but are harmless, and a good source of inspiration for the gaggle of onlookers who take on a career to block those who are late. They've the time to plan for weeks their Halloween costume - look for inspiration, get the materials, design it, measure themselves and talk about it and then make it - all for that one night. At least the street performers wear their outfits more than once and get some kind of monetary reprisal for their efforts. I comprehend their performance on the streets on the premise an army of street performers must've gone to street performing college to master their art-form - when they appear in front of you in a Costa queue, you realize statues also require hydration.
How quickly you denote these beings are objects, and therefore don't require watering or One of the most unique yet creative costumes I've witnessed is a thin girl dressed as a melting urinal; done in the style of Salvador Dali's melting clocks; 'The Persistence of Memory'. Surrealism entering the fold; she'd embraced Velcro like no other - her face, neck and arms resembled male toilet wall-tiling, her detailing was admirable and well researched. Certainly wasn't 'bog standard' - the plug was strategically placed and what impressed me most was even I knew how she could remove herself from the costume - all functions covered. No bladder cramp suffering is necessary, worth a note for those who annually wear bin bags and tend to squelch in their own perspiration to look stupid. Their pathetic efforts make me want to remove them from the vicinity and place them into the recycling bin for household waste. There is nothing worse than being adjacent to a 'sweaty Betty' at a bar, who noisily leaves pools of herself and smears it over a bar and insists on sharing her effluvia. Why do they put themselves through this every year? Why don't they just spray paint themselves black and call themselves a 'house fire victim?' Better still, stand on a black box in a middle of a street and remain motionless, you may get a pittance for your trouble. This is not a captious opinion but a result of years of observations that'll aid the would-be-bin-liner-wearer of needless self-harming and gross social misconduct - same applies with the nincompoops who run marathons attired as a large chicken for charity, they're idiocy is a risk to themselves and a drain on the societal purse.
The Irish eccentric Abraham Stoker the creator of 'Dracula', known as 'Bram' because obviously a four lettered first name is far more marketable than a seven lettered first name. He would have thoroughly enjoyed life in twenty first century. He'd be reveling at the vileness of what he'd created; "look what I've created, he'd boast!" His Irish eccentricities in today's social climate is incredibly sane; everything is relative, sadly madness is highly infectious so thanks to Americanisms I suspect the army of the grotesque will be out in force yet again dripping unsightly bodily fluids that'll make me gag into my double 'Glenfidditch' - naturally, I'll slip into the shadows of the night where it is safe from Bram Stoker's 'Vam-kind'.
For many foreign visitors, especially the ones from overseas who do Europe in five days, Germany shrinks to Bavaria, Bavaria shrinks to Munich. Munich means Oktoberfest, Mad King Ludwig and Hitler. If they do come in October and take the visitors of the Oktoberfest for typical Germans, they may return home believing that Germans wear lederhosen and German women dirndl. What an insult to the rest of the population.
Dirndl is the diminutive Bavarian dialect form of 'girl'. The thing you put on should be called a 'dirndl dress', but over time the second word has got lost and today a dirndl can wear a dirndl. What nowadays seems the typical dress for women in Bavaria, Austria, Liechtenstein and Italian South Tyrol was the traditional, everyday dress of servants in the 19th century. If they had to go to town, they didn't wear it, it looked too cheap to them. In the 1870s the Austrian upper classes adopted the dirndl as high fashion when they were holidaying in the countryside copying the peasant's way of dressing.
Dirndl and Oktoberfest only met in the 1960s when Munich applied for the Olympic Games in 1972. The young women working in the PR business and the hostesses wear clad in dirndl ('dirndl' is also the plural form) to represent a Bavarian custom which hadn't existed before. The German Silvia Sommerlath looked so attractive in her dirndl that she conquered the Swedish Crown Prince and is now Queen of Sweden. Many young women thought that if wearing a dirndl could have such a consequence, they'd also wear one.
The media are responsible for the combination of folkloristic costumes, dirndl, lederhosen and Oktoberfest, suddenly everyone thought it had always been like that, people had always visited the Oktoberfest dressed up. According to a survey half of the visitors of the Oktoberfest have put on dirndl and lederhosen since 2004. Some visitors even think that you're only allowed to enter if you wear a costume. The ultimate victory of advertising!
And the dirndl wearers are not all Bavarians. What I find utterly shocking is that the dirndl is spreading like pestilence through Germany. When the Oktoberfest began this year, I saw dirndl and lederhosen on offer in the Kaufhof (a chain store to be found all over Germany) in the Swabian town near Stuttgart where I live. All Kaufhof stores from the Alps to the Baltic sea offer these fashion items now. The mind boggles! What has happened to my countrypeople? Soon foreign tourists claiming Germans wear dirndl and lederhosen won't insult the non-Bavarian population any more. To make you understand the absurdity imagine the kilt leaving the confines of the Scottish highlands and moving south. Men from the Isle of Wight would be seen in kilts during Cowes Week watching the regatta.
A psychologist may find an explanation, I can't, I only know that I hate everything folkloristic, rustic and Bavarian with all my heart, have always done so and will always do. I'd rather been seen dead hanging over a fence than be seen in a dirndl. When I'm in the coffin, I can be shrouded in a dirndl, it won't bother me then.
Imagine putting on a blouse with a deep cleavage, then pressing your chest into a bodice laced so tight that your boobs are under your chin and nearly fall out (Surely, after some beer and swaying from side to side or when dancing on the tables in the beer tents boobs do fall out occasionally). I must concede that there is a positive aspect: the hunger hooks we see on catwalks have no chance in dirndl land. The more wood you've got in front of your house (as the Germans say), the better. It's not a question of looking fat but of emphasising the shape of the female body. The wide, pleated skirt can have any length the wearer likes from not reaching the knee up to ankle length. Over the skirt an apron is worn. It's always as long as the skirt, i.e., long skirt = long apron. A handmade individual dirndl made in Germany or Austria of expensive material like linen, silk and velvet can cost more than 2000 Euro, a polyester dirndl made in Turkey or Bangladesh can be got for less than 50 Euro.
A folklorist has researched the phenomenon and has come to the conclusion that dirndl and lederhosen are symbols for an identification process. Place and time may disintegrate, speed increase, but dirndl and lederhosen root the wearers in a community and a precise location, they have a home. Well, well.