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Oktoberfest costume

Hi everyone! I'm excited to go to Oktoberfest in Munich this year! I am going through a what-to-wear conundrum, and though I have seen a few answers about it, I'm not sure about my question. So here it is: How traditional of dresses do women usually wear? I'd like to wear a costume and thought I would buy one in America and bring it with me to save money. There are plenty of costumes available online for around $40, but they are of the flirty, short skirt, off-the-shoulder, college Halloween party variety. Which I would totally wear at Halloween, haha, but I worry these would be too showy, or even offensive at Oktoberfest. I definitely don't want to offend... or draw negative attention. Should I find a more traditional, conservative dress? I would greatly appreciate your advice! Thank you!

Posted by
9110 posts

Will you get a cowgirl suit if you go to Texas?

Posted by
3696 posts

@Oh, Ed... do I need to tell you to loosen up? :) Never thought of a costume for Oktoberfest, but I certainly took my costume to Carnavale in Venice, and sometimes it IS all about what you wear:)

Posted by
10296 posts

Wear an IU sweatshirt and do us proud, girl.

Posted by
12 posts

@Ed - Isn't that what all Texas women wear? ;) @Terry - True, though I guess plenty of people go to Oktoberfest in regular clothes. Costumes are fun though! And now I'm curious about what you wore to Carnavale! I'm going to Venice right before Munich, so not during Carnavale! @Bets - Hoo, Hoo, Hoo, Hoosiers! :)

Posted by
3696 posts

Kara... Well, my costume for Carnavale (we went to a Chocolate Ball) was a beautiful long black silk skirt with some sparkly appliques near the bottom, a velvet tank top and a black and gold velvet cloak. It was really normal clothing, but then I bought a beautiful mask in Venice. Also, my hair was really long then (I was growing it out to donate) and that was the best part because the humidity made it really curly. Alas, it was only that way while I was in Venice, so I guess it was just part of my costume. There were 4 of us on that trip and we all had costumes and it was great fun. I am thinking of going again this next Feb.

Posted by
12040 posts

Yes, many people, Bavarian or otherwise, do wear Tracht at Oktoberfest. Based on all the frat boy Schweinhunden that regularly populate Oktoberfest, I think the only way you could offend anyone is if you wore a Dirndl with Nazi regalia on it. My advise? Wait until you get to Munich to purchase your Dirndl. True, all the really nice outfits can be quite expensive, but there's also much cheaper options that still look better than a Halloween costume. The stores near the center of town are more likely to selll the expensive stuff, but look online for a Tracht store in the outer districts amongst the big box stores (yes, they have these in Europe!). In many Bavarian cities, you can usually find a cheaper outlet store in these areas.

Posted by
19149 posts

I think the key word here is "costume". In Bavaria, as in other parts of Germany, every town had a Tracht (pl Trachten), which was a specific pattern for their festive dress. In the 90s I belonged to a Trachten Erhaltungs Verein (Society for the preservation of traditions) in Denver, which had a parent club on the Ammersee in Bavaria. In Oktober, 2007, I was on a train going into Munich the last Saturday night of Oktoberfest, and there were people going in to the festival in Munich wearing traditional Trachten, and I recognized it as being from the area used by the club. My point is, this isn't a "costume", it's an expression of cultural tradition. Find at Trachten Erhaltungs Verein in Indianapolis and see it you can buy an authentic Tracht (it won't be $40), or don't bother. I fear that if you buy something in a shop in Munich it will be obviously phony. I wouldn't want people to see me dress in an obvious Halloween costume?

Posted by
8996 posts

There are lots of 2nd hand stores selling Dirndls, Lederhosen, and all the stuff that goes with it. For new clothing though, C&A, Kaufhof and all the dept. stores have a fairly wide ion. C&A isn't too expensive, and then you can try it on to see what looks best on you. I think half the fun is getting the outfit. I know my daughter and niece had a blast down in Garmisch trying on Dirndls to find the ones that had the right color combinations, lengths, etc. Feel free to wear short skirts too, as you won't be alone. Go to youtube and watch videos if you want to see what people are wearing. Make sure you have your apron tied correctly. The store sales clerk will help you figure out where you will want the bow tied. This is important. For the most comprehensive list of questions and topics about the Oktoberfest, including styles for 2013, and more, in English, look here: http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showforum=77

Posted by
12040 posts

PS- Sarah from Stuttgart wrote a trip report a while back on a Dirndl shopping trip she took to Munich. If you can't find it, you can probably send her a private message. She doesn't post nearly as often as she used to, but you can find her under the "Trip Reports" section of this website, about 3/4 of the way down the first page, under the report labeled "Copenhagen: Sun and Beer".

Posted by
517 posts

Guest who was visiting us: "Why are people wearing dirndls and lederhosen? Is it a holiday of some sort?" Me: "Um, no. We're in Austria and it's common for people to dress like that for a Sunday outing."
Often there are trachten outlets outside the city center where you can get them for (more) reasonable prices.

Posted by
2349 posts

Buy one there and consider it an investment. You can wear it at Halloween, and at the various Oktoberfests and Germanfests throughout Indiana. You'll probably get beers bought for your trouble, especially if you get those girls cinched up nice and high!

Posted by
12040 posts

"Um, no. We're in Austria and it's common for people to dress like that for a Sunday outing." I live in what you might consider a "less traditional" region of Germany, but even here, on my frequent walks through the forests, you see people wearing the old style woodsmans clothing. Particularly if there's a Volksmarsch.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you everyone! This was very helpful. I will wait to check out the options when I get to Munich. If I end up buying a dirndl, I'm going to do it right! :)

Posted by
30 posts

After having been to Oktoberfest twice (2006, 2010), I can tell you that you don't want a 'costume'. First, others will know you are a tourist. And, you will more than likely offend someone. Dirndls are beautiful dresses that many German and Austrian women wear. Most people wear regular clothes (jeans, shirts). My dad was born in Austria (just over the German border) and we will be at the Oktoberfest next year, 2014. I was happy to see you are going to wait until you get to Germany to buy a dirndl. Please note they are expensive, as a good quality one with the blouse can run over 250 Euro. Germans are very proud of their heritage. Even though you wouldn't intend to mock them, they could very well see it as that. Have fun!

Posted by
2297 posts

I'd also recommend to get your dirndl in Munich. It doesn't have to be an expensive specialty store. Check out C & A, a large clothing store with a good section of traditional dresses for under 100 Euro. They have several locations in Munich and across Germany.

Posted by
8996 posts

You will not offend anyone, no matter what you are wearing. The majority of the people at the Oktoberfest are tourists, so who is going to care about what you are wearing? Seriously! As mentioned in my previous post, watch some Youtube videos. People get so drunk, that what someone else is wearing won't even register. You can certainly get a Dirndl at C&A or Kaufhof for less than 250 €.

Posted by
12172 posts

My first trip to Oktoberfest I started at the parade downtown. I was really impressed by the dirndls and lederhosen the locals were wearing. So much so I thought it might be nice to get a costume myself. I was cured when I saw a busload of Asian tourists all wearing (really expensive) traditional Bavarian garb. Traditional clothing is really great for locals but kind of cheesy on tourists - just my opinion. If you want to dress up, no one is going to say anything negative about it. Keeping the earlier comment in mind. I'd shop online through a German store and order a traditional set you can afford. If you wait until you're there, the prices will be sky-high (but probably really nice stuff). If you buy from a costume supplier, it's likely to look both cheap (poorly made) and rude (like a sexy caricature of a real Bavarian dirndl).