Oktoberfest is a party, after all; therefore people will dress for the occasion.
It may seem those traditional Alpine outfits are likely just a stereotype, but people do take their Oktoberfest garb very seriously.
Here’s our speedy guide to Oktoberfest fashion.
Let’s begin with the basics
The traditional outfits, in general, are called “Tracht,” the word used to describe all sorts of typical garments in German-speaking countries, but in particular of Bavarian, South Tyrolian, and Austrian ones.
Depending on the region and social status, both accessories and garment quality will vary.
Hence, it’s not surprising to stumble upon shops in Germany and Austria carrying these pieces of clothing prices several hundred (and sometimes thousands) of euros!
In the Oktoberfest tradition, men wear “lederhosen,” which are knee-length shorts; women, on the other hand, wear dirndls, a type of peasant dress from the Alps.
The complete lederhosen outfit
Historically, lederhosen were considered workwear and thus were created in durable materials to withstand a hard day’s work.
Today, these are worn for leisure, typical of various folk festivals and beer gardens. Oktoberfest is prime ground for this outfit.
Traditional lederhosen is made of deer leather, or Hirsch, which can be very expensive. Commonly, some of these higher-quality garments are considered family heirlooms passed through generations.
More affordable ones are made of goat leather, but these can still set you back a couple hundred euros. Luckily, you can always find cheaper ones online or buy some at the smaller shops on the way to the event.
Older men tend to wear longer lederhosen, just below the knee. Younger men will wear theirs above.
To complete the outfit, you need a plaid button-down shirt, high socks, and sturdy, hiking-style shoes. Instead of socks, you can always wear “loferls,” which are interesting-looking calf warmers.
The beautiful dirndl
The dirndl dress is gathered at the waist and opens into a hoop skirt. Like lederhosen, dirndls can be quite pricey, depending on the material, but you can also find cheaper options in town.
The dirndl also had humble beginnings. It was used by farmworkers from the 17h to 19th century. In the 1930s, this garment suddenly became a fashionable item.
The operetta “The White Horse Inn” helped increased its popularity, especially across the pond, in the US when the performance arrived on Broadway.
The dress is accompanied by a low-cut, usually scoop-neck blouse with short, puff sleeves, and an apron.
How you tie the apron will send a message to other Oktoberfest goers: your relationship status.
- If you tie your bow on the right: you are “spoken for.”
- If you tie your bow on the left: you are single.
- If you tie your bow in the middle: your relationship status is nobody’s business!
- Bow in the back: this is typically used for children, waitressing staff, or widows.
Do I have to wear any sort of Tracht to come to Oktoberfest?
Traditional outfits are entirely optional! It’s a fun way to enjoy the tradition, but certainly not a requirement.
One crucial accessory it’s advantageous to have? A wallet with pocket money!
A lot of places do accept cards, but it’s still very pervasive to find a lot of cash-only establishment, in particular at the smaller souvenir or food stalls.
When you join our Oktoberfest trip, your main costs are covered (the meal and drinks are included in the price), but it’s always a good idea to keep some cash at hand.
Tracht or no Tracht, you must add Oktoberfest to your expat bucket-list destinations. It’s truly an event you have to experience!