Yay! Oktoberfest is back! And if you’re here you’re most likely wondering what to wear to Oktoberfest in Munich. It can be a challenge for sure, especially as an American. We are so used to those cheap Amazon Dirndls…
But trust me, you do not want to wear that to Oktoberfest!
The first time I went to Oktoberfest was in 2019. The year before Covid shut down the festival for two years. The festival kicked off at the end of my Fiance and I’s 3-week long Europe road trip.
Since we were driving around the Bavarian region of Germany it was relatively easy to shop for amazing, authentic Oktoberfest clothing.
Jason, my fiance, opted not to buy Lederhosen. But he was able to fashion together an amazing look that matched the Oktoberfest aesthetic. Keep reading to learn how we pulled off our hot looks.
Understanding Traditional German Clothes
The Dirndl and Lederhosen are the most common pieces of traditional German clothing associated with Oktoberfest. They, however, have roots that go way beyond being a beer festival outfit.
Though not as popular as centuries ago, you can still find Germans (of all ages) wearing these traditional clothing, even when it’s not Oktoberfest!
Dirndls for Women
The dirndl is a feminine dress traditionally worn by women and girls in the south-eastern German region of Bavaria. It features a close-fitting bodice, a plunging neckline, a cropped blouse under the bodice and a high-waisted skirt with an apron.
Understanding the Dirndl and Other Traditional German Clothing
- Dirndl Dress: The bodice should be tight to the body, with a deep neckline secured by lacing, buttons, and hook-and-eye closures. The skirt is full with folds gathered at the waist, typically mid-length. The dress should have hidden side pockets (Rejoice!!).
- Blouse: This is worn under the dress and is cropped at the midriff. Typically it is white and has puffy sleeves. Just a heads up, the girls are gonna be pushed up, front and center ;)
- Apron: Attached to the skirt of the dress is an apron that should only cover the front. Oktoberfest aprons will be light fabric, while wintertime dirndls feature heavier fabrics.
- Bow: A key part of the Oktoberfest outfit is how a woman ties her apron’s bow. We will get into that later in this post…
- Accessories: The Oktoberfest outfit doesn’t stop at clothing, accessories are another important part of pulling together a great look. Keep reading to learn more about my recommendations on how to accessory your Oktoberfest style.
Lederhosens for Men
Lederhosens mean “leather breeches” in German. They are typically short or knee-length leather pants. In Bavaria, they can feature suspenders and a drop-front flap. The shirt worn with them is usually a long-sleeve, plaid-pattern button down.
If you are dressing a male for Oktoberfest, but don’t want to spend money on authentic pricey lederhosens, then don’t fear!
My fiance wore khaki pants and white/blue and white/green checkered button downs, with tan suede dress shoes (from Target). He fit right in with the rest of the gents at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
5 Tips for What to Wear to Oktoberfest
The following tips are based on my experience both shopping for an Oktoberfest look in Germany. as well as attending the festival with my fiance.
I hope this fashion advice will help you to shop for the perfect dirndl or lederhosen. Find your perfect and look fly, while being comfortable at the greatest beer festival in the world!
Tip #1: Get Authentic Oktoberfest Clothes, Not the Cheap Knockoffs.
First off, you do not want to be caught wearing a cheap, polyester Halloween costume to Oktoberfest, especially in Germany. It just looks like a joke to the craftsmanship behind real dirndls and lederhosen.
Secondly, it is a bit rude to wear something that is a caricature of the rich folk history that is behind these traditional pieces of German clothing.
- Avoid buying Oktoberfest outfits in Munich around Oktoberfest time. They will be marked up and very expensive.
- There are dirndl shops throughout the Bavarian region of Germany with seamstresses eager for you to find your perfect look.
- I paid around $300 in Germany for my Oktoberfest dress/ outfit at one of these shops, which included the dirndls, apron, blouse, shoes, socks, and matching necklace.
- If you can’t do any of the above, try to order online ahead of time from a reputable source, such as Kruger or Dirndl.com.
- Finally, search for vintage or secondhand dirndls on Etsy!
Tip #2: When it Comes to Shoes: KISS
When it comes to shoes for your Oktoberfest outfit, keep it simple stupid! While I was Dirndl shopping in Germany, I found myself without the ideal pair of shoes. All the shoes I traveled with clashed with dresses.
So I stupidly bought an expensive pair that matched my Oktoberfest dress.
AKA they were a style that I will most likely never wear again. And they were $50+!! (See photos above for proof). They were baby pink high-top, off-brand converse with frills and lace. lol
If I could do things differently, I would bring neutral colored lace up vans (or converses, Vans Slip Ons, just something generic). Truly, shoes are not a part of the Oktoberfest outfit that people will be paying attention to.
What you don’t want to wear to Oktoberfest are the traditional heels or flats. Those aren’t quite the shoes made for first-timers. Remember, there will be a lot of mysterious messes as you walk around the massive fairground.
Tip #3: Learn How to (Correctly) Tie Your Apron Bow
As mentioned earlier, ladies, pay close attention to how you tie your apron bow at Oktoberfest! Where you tie it signifies your status. But the rules aren’t too serious in modern times.
Yes, it’s a bit dated, but it’s also kinda fun. So here’s where to tie your dirndl’s bow:
- Bow on the Left Side: Single (and ready to mingle!).
- Bow on the Right Side: Taken aka don’t bother flirting.
- Bow in the Front Center: Virgin.
- Bow in the Back Center: A beer hall waitress or widowed.
For more help on how to tie the ‘perfect’ bow, no matter where you tie it, check out this helpful blog post!
Tip #4: Don’t Forget the Accessories!
When it comes to what to wear for Oktoberfest, the accessories are nearly as important as your dirndl! The nice thing about these Oktoberfest outfit ideas is that you can keep it simple, or go all out.
- Jewelry: You do want to keep it simple when it comes to jewelry. Nothing too large or flashy. Chokers, or short necklaces are very common options. As well as glitzy studs and a sparkly bracelet or two. Many women wore matching jewelry sets that matched.
- Hair: Braids and flower crowns are the most popular Oktoberfest accessories. There are plenty of vendors selling flower crowns at the festival, or you can bring your own from home.
- Shoes: See Tip #2.
- Purse: Most dirndls have deep pockets, try to keep what you can in there! If you must bring a purse, keep it small and in a neutral or leather color.
Tip #5: Wearing ‘Normal’ Clothes is Totally Fine Too.
Wearing normal clothes to Oktoberfest is totally fine too! In my opinion, I also think it is fine to wear your dirndls or lederhosens multiple times. There are some 6 million people that attend Oktoberfest each year, and none of them will be on the lookout for outfit repeaters!
Check Out These Other Oktoberfest Guides
I hope that these Oktoberfest outfit tips will help you decide on what to wear to the festival. If you’re looking for more information on traveling to Munich or Germany, check out these guides!