First held in 1810 in Munich, in the Kingdom of Bavaria, Oktoberfest (or Octoberfest as sometimes written in English) is a two-weeks long beer festival. It ends on the first Sunday of October. Part of the celebration is traditional Bavarian clothing: lederhosen shorts for men, and dirndl for women.
Don’t get me wrong, the best attire for Oktoberfest is a Dirndl, complete with an apron and accessories. You will fit in the festival better and probably have more fun. But I also know Dirndls can be expensive and it doesn’t make sense to buy a new one every year.
Thankfully, you don’t have to wear a Dirndl or any traditional Bavarian attire to attend Oktoberfest.
But does that mean you can show up in jeans and a t-shirt? Not at all.
My favorite way to blend in during Oktoberfest without dropping a small fortune on a new Dirndl is to don a maxi dress. I get one whose silhouette and colors resemble a modern Dirndl and then style it accordingly to suit the festival. And because I want to mimic the dirndl to perfection, the maxi dress I choose must also be sleeveless or have thin straps.
Let me show you how I do it in 6 simple steps or less. The idea is to get the essential pieces of the dirndl without making the outfit look like a costume.
Wear a White Blouse
You can get a white maxi dress as the canvas of your dirndl. This is a maxi dress blog, after all. But a traditional Dirndl blouse, also known as a Trachtenblouse, is basically a tight bra cover with short sleeves. It’s a distinct blouse style with lace trim on the sleeves and neckline, and it has quite a deep neck to show off your goods. However, you can get any white peasant-style blouse, as long as it has short sleeves and a deep neckline. In fact, a V-neck short sleeve t-shirt will do as well. Depending on the color of your dress though, the Trachtenblouse can be checkered instead of plain white.
Get a Lace up Bodice
There are very few maxi dresses whose top part resembles a dirndl. This is why I recommend a strappy maxi dress or a sleeveless one. To mimic the dirndl look, you can wear a lace-up bodice over the dress and let it cinch your waist and lift your cleavage. The bodice should have thick straps that go over your shoulders and hide the dress straps. To be clear, a dirndl does cover your chest area to a certain degree, so the bodice should not go under your breasts.
Let the Apron be the Dirndl
The apron, or the pinafore, is a significant part of the dirndl outfit. It should be white or match the colors of the dress. It should also match the length of the dress.
I saw this trick two years ago in a little German-populated town in the US, where a lady wore the upper part of the apron as the dirndl. This means you wear the blouse first, then the maxi dress over it, and finish the look with an apron, worn fully as it should be in the kitchen.
She then took the waist straps behind her as it should and brought them all the way back to the front side, making a knot on her left side.
If you didn’t know, the side you make that knot signifies your relationship status. On the right, you are taken, and on the left, you are single. Widows traditionally tied the knot on the backside.
Wear Closed, Low-heel Shoes
The shoe guidelines for Oktoberfest are quite simple- wear black or white closed shoes without laces. The heel part is optional, but you must keep in mind that you will be walking and dancing a lot during the festival, and you may be a little tipsy at some point.
Anything closed and comfortable will do, including loafers, ballet flats, subtle Toms, Mary Jane pumps, or even ankle-length booties.
Layer Up with a Button Jacket
The Oktoberfest season can be quite chilly sometimes, especially in the evenings. We, therefore, advise you to layer up with something warm but cute enough not to hide the beauty of your festival attire. I have a warm, button-up corduroy jacket with a square neck and pleats on the back. It allows the dress and the apron to shine, and you can also see the blouse a little bit.
A warm cardigan is also good if it’s not too cold, but I recommend having a trench coat somewhere close as a backup.
Accessorize like a Bavarian
Less is more with Oktoberfest accessories, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them out. There’s something so Bavarian about wearing small pretzel jewelry like earrings and necklaces in silver or gold. A classic piece of jewelry I see with many women is a black velvet edelweiss choker, especially if your dirndl is dark colored.
And when the month of October in Munich has blessed us with some sun, an alpine hat or a flower crown make fantastic head accessories. Also, learn about other traditional accessories like Charivari, Lebkuchenherzen, and Wiesn gluperl, which you can get right at the festival.
Lastly, wear a bra stash or money wallet instead of a purse. You want to be free and light during the festival to dance and drink your worries away, so a handbag just won’t do it. If a money wallet is too small, get a small cross-body bag that will fit your bare essentials. By bare, I mean keys, lip gloss, credit card, and your ID.
With the maxi dress all styled and accessorized for Oktoberfest, all you need now is to wear a party attitude. This annual festival is loud, cheerful, and overwhelming to most, especially if you are not used to so many people. Brace to socialize A LOT, drink a lot and dance your heart away. After all, it is a celebration, and you need to bring you’re A-game.
While traditional Bavarian attire would be best, you can still wear normal clothes to the Oktoberfest. For example, a maxi dress styled to look like a dirndl is a great option because dirndls can be expensive and out of reach sometimes.
In the absence of a dirndl, you can wear regular clothes that blend in with the traditional Bavarian attire. Anything from a flowy maxi dress, circular midi dress, and even a maxi skirt will do if you dress them up with a white short-sleeve shirt and closed black shoes.