This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link, I may get a small commission. Thank you for supporting TWF!
Ohhhh, Oktoberfest! What an amazing experience we had during the opening weekend in Munich! From meeting the sweetest friends to the liter sized beers, it was even better than we expected. I had a lot of people asking me about my dirndl while we were there and I decided to write a quick blog post on what to wear to Oktoberfest! Whether you’re heading to Munich, Germany, over the next two weeks or celebrating at a local event, dressing up in the traditional attire is a must!
When deciding what to wear to Oktoberfest in Munich, note that people absolutely go in regular clothes, too. They’ll still serve you beer, you’ll still make friends, and you’ll still have a ton of fun. But with the majority of the locals dressing up in traditional outfits, it seems like they set the tone for expectations. Dressing up is part of the experience. After all, if you’re making the trip to Munich, why not embrace every ounce of the tradition?!
For the ladies, you’ll love slipping into a traditional dirndl. It’s, surprisingly, really comfortable and you’ll feel like a million bucks. The three-piece ensemble consists of a cropped blouse, full bodice and skirt, and apron. The blouse is typically white, and will often have puff sleeves and/or lace accents. The bodice, attached to the full skirt and also called the pinafore dress, compliments the blouse and typically falls below the knee. The apron is a beautiful accent to the dress, tying at the waist and wrapping around to make a bow.
The bow can be tied in four places: the left, the right, the center, or the back.
If you tie it to your left, it means you’re single. If you tie it to the right, it means you’re taken. If you tie it in the center, it means you’re a virgin. If it’s tied in the back, she’s either a widow or a waitress. I was originally told that tying it in the center meant you’re “for sale”, but a Bavarian couple got a good laugh out of that. They told us that the center simply means you’re a virgin. I’m not sure why anyone would want to flaunt their sexual experience or possibly be “for sale”, so to be safe, stick to the left or right.
Accessories & Shoes
- Floral headband: If you’re going all out, pick out a fun flower crown or headband to wear! I had an old flower headband that worked great with my dress. I expected to see a bunch for sale at Oktoberfest, or at nearby shops but I was disappointed in the quality. Purchase one beforehand if you know you want to wear it.
- Knee-high knit socks: The socks are often white and are a cute compliment to the dirndl. If it’s chilly, this is a great option to keep your legs warm while still sticking to tradition.
- Braided hair: This is very common at Oktoberfest. A milkbraid updo beautiful, but I’ve never been the best at braiding my own hair, so I didn’t do it for Oktoberfest. I wish they had a hair-braiding booth at Oktoberfest!
- Sweater: Not every sweater will go well with your dirndl, but the traditional knitted ones are beautiful compliments to the dress.
- Wiesn Glupperl: Many girls will choose to wear a wiesn glupperl, a clothes pin with funny sayings or your name on it. Getting one custom made in the tents can be a fun souvenir.
- Small purse: At Oktoberfest in Munich, large bags are not allowed. However, a small cross-body purse would be great to keep your phone, money, and lipstick. I had a small Kate Spade wristlet.
- Shoes: I chose to wear my matte black Tieks. They were perfect for the miles of walking we did, secure enough to stand on tables, and matched the dark accents of my apron. At Oktoberfest, I saw girls wearing everything from heels to boots to sneakers. If I didn’t have my Tieks, I probably would’ve worn my solid white Adidas sneakers. They look great with the bright white blouse, and the last thing you need is to fall over from high heels after one too many liters of beer.
Where to Buy a Dirndl
My experience purchasing a dirndl was really fun. If you’re in the Central Florida location, you have to check out Hollerbach’s Outfitters. A sister company to Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café, it’s a store that sells authentic Bavarian dirndls and lederhosen. With plenty of sizes and colors to choose from, it was exciting to try on all the different dirndls. When I finally picked one, it felt like a “say yes to the dress” moment! The price (often $200+ for the whole outfit) makes it seem like a big deal, so enjoying the experience was a plus.
If you don’t have a local German store in your area, check out Etsy stores, eBay, or other small online boutiques. If buying online, I’d suggest purchasing it at least 6 weeks in advance to the festival. Amazon has some great options, but just be careful not to purchase a Halloween costume. Some of the pieces will come as separates, too, so keep in mind what your full budget is for the dirndl.
Dropping into Oktoberfest in Munich last minute? No worries. There are several stores in Munich that sell dirndls and lederhosen. I browsed through a couple of the stores and they had some beautiful options, but you might be wearing the same dirndl as 50 other tourists. The dirndls in Munich did seem to be priced lower than ones I’ve seen online.
Do not buy a dirndl at a Halloween store. If you’re strictly using it for a Halloween costume with your friends, fine. But if you’re going for an authentic and traditional look, as you should at Oktoberfest, you won’t want the skimpy Halloween version. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb with the mini-skirt style dirndl.
The men’s outfit is called a lederhosen and translates to “leather breeches”. The Bavarian lederhosen typically hits right above the knee for men and are fairly heavy due to the leather. It used to be worn during physical work, but now it’s commonly found just during fun festivals like Oktoberfest. A traditional red or blue plaid shirt is worn with the lederhosen, and it’s pretty uncommon to see it without the suspenders on. If you want to go with a bolder shirt color, go for it!
Accessories & Shoes
- Socks: The socks for men typically hit the middle of the shin. You’ll also see men wearing “loferls”, the two-part socks. Marc-André opted for the loferls and I loved that they were a little different. He said they were really comfortable, too!
- Hats: Many men will opt to wear an Alpine hat. The hats can be decorated with pins or feathers (the higher the feather, the wealthier the man).
- Vest/Jacket: Some men will opt to wear a vest or jacket, which looks more formal, but they can be very pricey. In my opinion, it adds the extra layer to the outfit that makes it look even better.
- Charivari chain: The traditional chain can be worn on the lederhosen, but men don’t seem to wear as many accessories as women.
- Shoes: The Bavarian men wear a shoe that is kind of a mix between a work shoe and a work boot. A pair of brown leather trachten sneakers work great with the lederhosen. Marc-André ended up in a pair of brown hiking boots, which looked okay, but locals might’ve just seen “tourist”.
Where to Buy Lederhosen
Lederhosen can be bought almost anywhere that sells dirndls, but again, Amazon is a good option. Hollerbach Outfitters sold everything we needed for my husband’s attire, but you can also find several places online, too. Like the dirndl, the lederhosen won’t be cheap. If you choose to go with the Halloween costume option, expect poor quality and little comfort.
Female lederhosen is becoming popular, too! A shorter and even tighter version of the men’s, it has little wiggle room for sizing. Be sure to try it on before committing and simply pair it with a red or blue plaid shirt as the men do!
What are your thoughts on the dirndl and lederhosen?! Check out #dirndl on Instagram for some gorgeous inspiration!