What To Wear To Oktoberfest In America

Oktoberfest is a magnificent annual festival held in Munich, Germany. Attended by an average of 6 million people from all over the globe, this event is one for the bucket list!

How did the tradition of Oktoberfest start? The very first Oktoberfest took place on October 12, 1810. It was an event to celebrate the marriage of Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and the crown prince of Bavaria (who would go on to become King Louis I). This celebration lasted for five days. Over time, it expanded into an epic 2-week festival that included a parade, large beer halls, amusement rides, music, and dancing.

Woman smiling holding a liter of beer in a black goth style dirndl with black blouse -what to wear to oktoberfest in germany - dirndl at oktoberfest

So why is Oktoberfest celebrated in September? The answer is simple… as the festival got longer, the start date was pushed back into September because the weather is typically better and the days are longer. 

Why do you hear Oktoberfest called the Wiesn? The grounds on which Oktoberfest takes place is called the Theresienwiese… Wiesn, short for Theresienwiese. This is what most locals call Oktoberfest.

a young couple standing under the oktoberfest sign in munich -what to wear to oktoberfest in germany - dirndl outfit

What do you wear to Oktoberfest?

If you are planning a trip to Oktoberfest, be it this year, next year, or sometime in the distant future, dressing for the Wiesn is a must! (I guess technically… it’s not a requirement, but this just adds more fun to the event). Both locals and tourists wear traditional Bavarian and Bavarian-inspired clothing. For women, it is a Dirndl and for men, it’s Lederhosen. 

  • A Dirndl typically consists of a sleeveless dress with a blouse underneath and an apron at the waist. (It’s what the St. Pauli Girl wears). 
  • Lederhosen literally translates to leather pants. It is the quintessential embroidered leather pants with suspenders typically worn with a plaid or white shirt.
A couple holding a liter of beer at Oktoberfest in munich. The woman is wearing a plus size dirndl dress - what to wear to oktoberfest in germany - dirndl outfit

All the pieces of a Dirndl Set

Unlike your typical cocktail or sundress, a Dirndl has many pieces. Here are all the parts of a Dirndl.

Dirndl Bodice 

This is the top part of the Dirndl from the waist up. It has either a zipper or button closure. More intricate styles will have braids, trimming, ribbons, chain etc on the bodice. Some folks will add pins or other accessories to the bodice.

Dirndl Skirt

The skirt is often attached to the bodice at the waist. It is a full skirt with gathers or pleats. Some Dirndl dresses have pockets. (cough cough ALL Rare Dirndls have 2 pockets). Dirndl skirts come in a variety of skirt lengths. The general rule of thumb is that you don’t want your skirt to be shorter than the tips of your fingers when your arms are down. Mid-calf is a very classic Dirndl skirt length. 

Dirndl Apron 

This is a gathered or pleated piece of fabric that drapes over the front of the skirt and is tied in the back or front in a bow. 

  • Where you tie this bow matters! Tie the bow to your left, if you are single. Tie it to the right if you are in a relationship. If you tie it in the center front, it will signify that you are a virgin and if you tie it in the back, it says you are widowed or a waitress working the fest. Just pick right or left. 

Dirndl Blouse

The blouse is worn under the Dirndl and is typically white or ivory. Black blouses are also available and very stylish. These can be changed based on the event, personal style, or the weather. Some styles are designed to be worn without a blouse or have sleeves already attached, in which case the Dirndl blouse is not necessary. Looking into getting a blouse from Rare Dirndl? Check out my Blouse Sizing Guide blog.

Group of people in dirndl dresses and lederhosen standing in front of a beer wagon in munich - what to wear to oktoberfest in germany - dirndl outfit

Bloomers or Pettipants (optional)

These go underneath the skirt, so if you choose to dance on a bench, table or polka very quickly… any wandering eyes will see adorable little pants under your skirt instead of your undies.     

Petticoat (optional) 

Also worn under the skirt, a petticoat adds fun and flair to a skirt. This extra poof is not required but is a cute look. Note the lace of a petticoat should never peek out too much below the hem of the skirt.

Indian woman dressed in a custom made dirndl at Oktoberfest - what to wear to oktoberfest in germany - dirndl outfit

Where can you buy a dirndl?

There are lots of places to buy a dirndl – it just depends on how much you’re willing to spend.

Because I was on a budget, I decided to buy a cheaper dirndl on Amazon for about $50, similar to this oneWhile it wasn’t the most authentic dirndl at Oktoberfest, it looked cute and I didn’t care if I spilled beer on it.

On Amazon, dirndl prices range from about $50-100. You can find a cheaper dirndl for $40 or a higher quality one for around $100.

If you have more money, you can buy an authentic dirndl. They aren’t cheap, but they look gorgeous and are the most authentic.

You can buy an authentic dirndl once you get to Munich. They cost around 150 euros. You can buy one at one of these stores. If you want, you can also rent a dirndl – see here.

Tip – buy your dirndl several weeks before Oktoberfest. That way you’ll be able to have alterations made or send your it back for another size. 

Dirndl blouses

If your dirndl doesn’t come with a blouse, you will need to buy one. Here are a few cute options: sweetheartruffleslace, and off-the-shoulder.

If you want maximum cleavage at Oktoberfest, you may want to wear a bra shaper. Here’s a popular one.

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What NOT to wear at Oktoberfest

Make sure your dirndl isn’t too short, as it’s considered disrespectful to wear a super skimpy dirndl. At the shortest, it should hit around the knee.

Oktoberfest shoes for ladies

The best shoes for Oktoberfest are comfortable close-toed shoes or booties. You’ll be on your feet a lot!

The best shoes to wear with a dirndl (in my opinion) are either sneakers or booties. They look super cute and will keep your feet comfortable and glass-free. Here are my recommendations:

Classic white sneakers – white sneakers look super cute with a dirndl. I wore my Stan Smiths and was very happy with them.

Waterproof ankle booties – These booties are super cute, and because they’re waterproof it’s no big deal if you splash beer on them.

Tip – I don’t recommend wearing sandals or flip flops as there may be glass or liquid on the ground. Trust me – don’t do it!

Oktoberfest accessories

You may want to add one or two Oktoberfest-themed accessories to your outfit:

Traditional Bavarian choker – You’ll see lots of women wearing this style of necklace at Oktoberfest.

Pretzel-themed jewelry – When else can you get away with wearing a pretzel necklace or earrings?

Flower crown – You can go simple or more ornate.

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