The Ultimate Oktoberfest Dirndl Style Guide
You asked, and we delivered. Here’s our comprehensive Dirndl guide so when you buy your first, second, tenth, or zillionth Dirndl, you can reference this for any dirndl question you may have. In this guide, we’ll go over everything from how to wear a Dirndl, the steps to getting dressed, and the best of the best accessories and clothing staples to have in your closet to really make your dirndl uniquely you! Plus, we’ll share our expert advice on how to tie the apron in different styles and how to decide on the right accessories for a fabulous finish.
In this Article:
- Dirndl History 101
- Pieces of a Dirndl Outfit and How to Wear it
- How Should a Dirndl Fit
- Plus Size Dirndls
- Best undergarments
- Dirndl Shoes: Recommendations & Trends
- Jewelry for a Dirndl
- Bags and Purses for your Dirndl
- Hats, Crowns, Hair and More!
- Outerwear for Your Dirndl
- Rare Dirndl FAQs
With this guide by your side, you’ll be ready to rock any Dirndl style! Before we get super in the trenches, I want to address one common question, and that is, “is it worth buying a Dirndl that I’m only going to wear once?” and the answer is, without a doubt, yes! There are so many opportunities and places to wear a Dirndl, and you just need to find them — or create them! As long as you buy a Dirndl that fits your personality and makes you feel beautiful, you’ll enjoy wearing it all the time. Now, let's get started.
Dirndl History 101
The Dirndl has a long and interesting history. It originated in the Alpine regions of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland as a traditional dress for women. The style is believed to have been around since the 19th century, but it gained more widespread popularity during the 1960s. Since then, it has become a popular fashion trend all over the world.
The Dirndl is a knee-length dress with a natural waistline and full skirt. It usually features buttons, bows, ribbons and other decorative elements. The traditional look also includes an apron that is often ornately decorated. Today, you can find contemporary variations of the Dirndl in many styles and fabrics, making it a great choice for any occasion. From everyday wear to special events, the Dirndl is always a fashionable and fun choice!
In addition to its history, Dirndls have a really deep and personal meaning for those who wear them. Sure, you may wear a Dirndl to dance, go to a German festival, and more - but there's an added layer of meaning. By wearing a Dirndl, you are representing and displaying your appreciation for history and culture - a special tribute to the past. If you're wearing a Dirndl, you're showing your personal style while also honoring the long-standing traditions and culture that inspired it. The modern Dirndl didn't just appear - its roots are in the centuries of heritage and customs that have come before. And now we have a variety of special occasions to wear them to!
Pieces of a Dirndl Outfit and How to Wear it
The Dirndl is a timeless look that made up of several pieces. The traditional Dirndl dress is typically made from woven fabric such as cotton, polyester, linen, or wool. It often includes decorative elements like ruffles, lace, buttons and other adornments. Unlike your typical cocktail or sundress, a Dirndl outfit is composed of several elements. To help you finish the look, here's a list of all the pieces that make up a classic Dirndl:
The blouse is traditionally worn beneath the Dirndl and is typically available in white, ivory or black. Depending on the event, your personal style or even the weather, you can switch up your blouse to suit any look! A fun off-the-shoulder blouse is great for warm days, but the sweetheart puff sleeve is definitely the most popular blouse. Some styles are designed to be worn without a blouse or have sleeves already attached, so the Dirndl blouse is not essential in those cases. If you are in need of a blouse for your outfit, look no further than Rare Dirndl! Be sure to check out our Blouse Sizing Guide blog for helpful advice when selecting the perfect blouse for your Dirndl. Be sure to check out our selection of intricately detailed Dirndl blouses that are great for any occasion. From lacy cuffs to ruffles and embroidery, you can truly make your Dirndl outfit unique. Our collection of Dirndl blouses come in a large variety of sizes and styles!
This is the top portion of a Dirndl, extending from the waist up that connects to the skirt. It often zips or buttons closed and has extra detailing like braids or ruffled trimming around the neckline as well as ribbons, chains, embroidery and other details. For an added touch of personalization, many people will add pins or other adornments to their bodice. Most of our Dirndls have a center zipper so it's easy to put on. You'll want it to have a snug fit, but not uncomfortable!
If your Dirndl features a lace-up or corset-style front, locate the corresponding ribbon or chain. Begin by threading the ribbon or chain through from the top hooks and crisscross it down to tie in a bow (or knot if it's chain) at the bottom. Check out this blog for tips and tricks on how to lace up your dirndl.
The skirt is usually attached to the bodice at the waist and features a full, gathered or pleated silhouette. To add a modern twist, some Dirndl dresses will have pockets. A detail that is unique to Rare Dirndl is that we have TWO!
When it comes to Dirndl skirts, there are a variety of lengths to pick from. As a general rule, your skirt should not be shorter than the tips of your fingers when your arms are at rest. Mid-calf is a very classic length for the Dirndl skirt and gives off an elegant look, and it'll be super comfortable when you're ready to dance the night away!
The final touch to your Dirndl look is your apron. Make sure you wrap it around your natural waist, covering the front seam. The apron should never be longer than your skirt and usually no shorter than 2-3 inches above the hemline. This is a gathered or pleated piece of fabric that is draped over the front of the skirt and fastened with a bow in either the back or front. Where you tie the bow matters! Traditionally, if you're single, you should knot it to your left; tying it to the right indicates that you are in a relationship. On the other hand, if you opt to fasten it at the center of your front, this will signify that you are a virgin. If you prefer to tie it at the back, this could mean that you are widowed or working as a waitress at the fest.
But... at the end of the day, you are the one wearing your Dirndl, so tie your apron whichever way makes you feel best!
If you're having trouble tying a great bow, I'm your go-to person! Check out my blog (with a handy instructional video) on how to tie the perfect bow for any of your Dirndl dresses. It will have you looking like an expert in no time! Also, for after your event, here's a blog on how to store your apron.
Bloomers or Pettipants (optional)
If you plan on getting your polka on, it's wise to wear bloomers. These go underneath the skirt, so even if you're doing a high-energy folk dance like a polka, no one will catch sight of your Unterhosen — they'll just see some cute little bloomers or pettipants peeking out from beneath your skirt. Not everyone will be checking out what's underneath your skirt, but there are sure to be some wandering eyes and some judging Oma’s should your skirt go a-flyin - better safe than sorry!
You'll also find that in the heat of the summer, while it may seem like an extra layer, the bloomers keep your thighs from chafing. A pair of bloomers is our secret weapon against the dreaded thigh rub.
A petticoat can be added for a fun and flirty flair to your skirt. This extra poof is not required, but it does add some charm to the look. Make sure that the lace of your petticoat isn't completely visible below the hem of the skirt — you only want a subtle hint of it!
How will I remember all of this information?
We know you are busy and constantly being inundated with content on the internet. So here is a link to download all this info plus access to our Oktoberfest travel packing list. https://bit.ly/dirndlstyle
How Should a Dirndl Fit?
Finding the perfect fit for your Dirndl is key to creating a stunning look. The blouse should be snug and secure, but not too tight or too loose. Make sure it fits comfortably without feeling too constricted when you move around. Dirndls have nice firm bodices that should fit snugly around the bust and waist. It should just skim your body in a flattering way. The best fit will help create a beautiful silhouette that looks effortless yet stunning! The skirt should fall to your knees, or mid-calf length. The fit of the apron is also important – it needs to be tight enough to stay in place but loose enough that you can move around freely when walking or dancing.
Finding the right blouse size can be a bit tricky as every body is different! We recommend reading this blog about blouse sizing for helpful tips when shopping for your Dirndl blouse. It's filled with great advice designed to ensure you find a great fit and look fabulous in it!
If you buy a Dirndl and it doesn't fit quite right or it's shrunk, don't worry - our Dirndls are super easy to alter! Our blog on DIY alterations can help get you started on making the necessary adjustments. With a few simple tweaks, your Dirndl will fit like a glove! If you're thinking "I can't even sew on a button, I'm not altering this myself!" Click here to check out our Alterations Reimbursement Program. Or you can ask for side seam alterations before shipping and save a little money.
Plus Size Dirndls
Shopping for Dirndls at any size starts the same way, finding the right size. The key is to start with body measurements and reviewing the sizing chart. It's also important to measure yourself wearing the undergarments you intend to wear with your Dirndl: bra, shapewear etc.
If you know that you prefer to wear clothes that really hold their shape, look for Dirndls with bodices made of suede, brocade or cotton.
At Rare Dirndl, we add a layer of interfacing to the bodice pieces for sizes 18 and up. This creates a stronger foundation to keep curvy women feeling more comfortable and confident while tearing it up on the dance floor. You can rest assured that even our satin and poplin Dirndls hold their own and you don't need to worry about the bodice fiber content.
We've also worked closely with customers to tweak and make edits to our 18+ patterns to ensure that you have coverage where you want it without losing the flattering curves that Dirndls are known for.
While many Dirndl stores and sites do not carry extended sizes or only offer a limited selection of styles, that is not true for Rare Dirndl. We have a range of sizes up to 26 and offer a "made-to-measurements" option for anyone who would prefer to have a size customized. All body types deserve to have a garment that celebrates not only German heritage but their figure as well.
Underneath every fabulous German Dirndl is a great set of underwear, so let’s start at the top and work our way down! We've got you covered when it comes to finding the best undergarments for your dress—from bras to slips and beyond. The right foundation pieces can make or break your Oktoberfest look, so let’s explore what Rare Dirndl approved undergarments work best for your Dirndl dress and what to avoid.
There are so many different types of bras on the market—truly something for every shape and size! But when it comes to wearing a Dirndl dress, having the right bra is essential. No matter your size, my number one tip for wearing a Dirndl is to opt for a nude bra! One of the most common mistakes that women make when picking out undergarments is choosing bras with bright colors or prints. Make sure to go for something neutral and you'll be ready to rock your Oktoberfest look in style! You also want to ensure that it's giving you the lift and support. Whether you are a member of the itty-bitty-titty committee or you rock an H-cup, keeping the girls in the right place is essential. Click here for more recommendations when it comes to Dirndl bra shopping.
When it comes to wearing a Dirndl dress, my two main rules for choosing the right underwear are comfort and cotton! Cotton fabric is breathable and comfortable, so you can rest assured that your undergarments won't be constricting or ride up under your dress when you're dancing, eating, drinking or socializing.
You also want to consider bloomers, petticoats, slips, socks and tights.
No matter what type of undergarment you go with, make sure it's comfortable, fits well and won't show through your dress. For more help check out our Best Undergarments to Wear with a Dirndl blog. With the right foundation pieces in place, you're sure to look fabulous in your Dirndl dress!
Dirndl Shoes: Recommendations & Trends
One of the most common questions around here is: what kind of shoes should I wear with my Dirndl? And my answer is simple - whatever shoes make you feel comfortable and confident! So, if you're looking for something a little different when it comes to shoes to pair with your Dirndl, I've got some ideas that might just spark your inspiration.
When it comes to finding the perfect shoes for a Dirndl, comfort and style should be your main priorities. If you're looking to stay on trend, booties and flats are great options that provide both form and function. So go ahead, find a nice blend of the two - you'll love how you look! If you're going for a classic look, opt for loafers or Mary Janes. Or why not add a touch of fun with ankle boots featuring tassels or buckles? Whatever shoes you wear with your Dirndl, make sure it's comfortable and stylish - both are key ingredients for the most ideal outfit!
At the end of the day, you want shoes that are comfortable enough to wear all day long - no one wants to be stuck in uncomfortable footwear. But when it comes to style, make sure you don't go too casual - old dirty flip-flops and "dad sneakers" may be comfy, but they're not exactly a chic look. Find a balance between comfort and style, and you're sure to look great in your Dirndl! If you're looking for more Dirndl footwear inspiration, here is our guide on what shoes to wear with a Dirndl.
Jewelry for a Dirndl
When it comes to accessorizing a Dirndl look, nothing completes it quite like the right pieces of jewelry. If you're going for a more traditional vibe, why not opt for something simple but classy? A dainty necklace or some delicate earrings can do the trick. But if you're feeling a bit more daring, statement pieces like chunky necklaces and big hoops are sure to make your outfit pop! Whatever your style, jewelry is a great way to add that extra finishing touch. You can also pick charms or pendants that reflect your personality to add a unique touch to your ensemble.
If you want to give your Dirndl a classic, timeless look, here are some great accessories you should consider!
Engraved clothes pins (Weisn Grupperl) or an enamel pin set!
Jewelry!! (Check out our pretzel earrings!)
A great Dirndl look isn't complete without the right accessories! Whether you're going to an Oktoberfest celebration or a traditional Bavarian event, there are plenty of fun and exciting ways to accessorize. From vibrant headbands and hats to statement jewelry and novelty items, you'll find something that will make your Dirndl dress stand out from the crowd! With a few carefully-chosen pieces, you can add your own special twist to any Dirndl outfit.
Bags and Purses for your Dirndl
For a more classic style, opt for small evening bags crafted from natural materials like velvet and leather. But if you're looking for something more modern and trendy, go for cross-body bags or structured totes in eye-catching colors.
You can also make a statement with a collection of pieces that reflect or highlight your personality like intricate bags or bold floral prints. When it comes to size, you want something that is large enough to carry your essentials but small enough not to take away from the rest of your look. Invest in the right bag or purse and you’ll be ready for any occasion in style!
Having the wrong purse can easily ruin your perfectly-styled Dirndl look. I'm here to help you avoid that. I've been wearing dirndls for pretty much my entire life and I've finally settled on three of my all-time favorite bag styles that work well with any size Dirndl.
Backpack Purse (as long as it's small)
All of these bag styles are fashionable and versatile enough to be worn with other outfits too!!
NOTE: There are NO large bags or backpacks allowed at Oktoberfest. Also, be mindful of pick-pocketers when traveling. Be smart about where you keep your cash and valuables.
Hats, Crowns, Hair and More!
The dirndl is so much more than just a dress. To put together a striking outfit, you absolutely must add the right accessories. And what would a traditional German dress be without hats, crowns, and other hair ornaments?
A hat or floral crown or headpiece is a fabulous accessory to top off your Dirndl look. Traditional styles often feature simple hats or headbands of natural materials. For a modern twist, opt for statement hats like a Bavarian hat or Floral Crown. Or try out a new hairstyle. There are so many hair styles to choose from!
Lastly, hair adornments such as ribbons, flowers and feathers are great for adding a little something extra to your outfit. You can either go classic with traditional styles or take it up a notch with glitzy jewels or combs. Whichever you decide, make sure it complements and compliments the rest of your Dirndl look!
Side Note: If you opt for a Bavarian hat it may not fit exactly how you want it. Check out this blog on how to make your Bavarian hat fit better.
Braided hairstyles are a great choice to wear with a Dirndl, as they complement the traditional style of the dress. There are many different types of braids that can be incorporated into a hairstyle, such as French braids, Dutch braids, fishtail braids, and more. A classic choice is to wear two braids, one on each side of the head, secured with a ribbon or hair tie that matches the dirndl. For a more intricate look, braids can be combined with twists, curls, or updos to create a unique and stylish hairstyle.
Another popular and traditional style is the chignon, which involves twisting the hair into a bun at the nape of the neck and securing it with hairpins.
A third common Dirndl hairstyle is the half-up half-down style, which involves pulling the top half of the hair back and securing it with a clip or hair tie while leaving the bottom half loose. This style is simple and versatile and can be worn with curly or straight hair.
All that being said, there are no rules when it comes to how you wear your hair for an Oktoberfest. If your look is more casual, you can absolutely wear your hair like you usually do. Your everyday hairstyle can certainly be your Dirndl hairstyle.
Outerwear for Your Dirndl
Although Dirndls are usually associated with warmer seasons, those who love them will find a way to incorporate them into their wardrobe no matter the weather! Don't forget that even during autumn - which is the prime Dirndl dress-wearing season - temperatures can drop. If you're wearing a traditional Dirndl and the temperature drops, don't forget to add an extra layer of warmth and style with the right outerwear. A cardigan, jacket or coat is essential for keeping warm when your blouse has short sleeves or it's chilly outside.
If you're not sure what kind of outerwear to look for when shopping for your Dirndl outfit, here are some helpful tips:
Choose something lightweight and not too bulky. After all, you don't want your coat or jacket to overpower the beauty of the dress itself!
Cardigans, dusters, or other jackets that can stay open in front are ideal since that is usually where the embellishments of the dirndl are. Pick something that showcases the necklines of your dirndl and blosue.
Make sure it's not too loose - you don't want it to look like you borrowed it from someone else! Opt for materials that fit snugly, so as not to take away from the beauty of your Dirndl dress.
When picking out a color for your outerwear, think about which hues will flatter the colors of your Dirndl without overpowering them. Neutral shades like black, gray, or white can be perfect complements that allow your dress to take center stage.
At Oktoberfest, you'll be spending a lot of time outside, but inside the beer tents, the more crowded it gets, the warmer it can become. Something light and comfortable that you can take off and on easily is ideal.
When picking out the perfect outerwear for your Dirndl, it's important to find something that is both fashionable and functional. You want an item that will complete your look without compromising on warmth or comfort. To help you make the right choice, here are some of my favorite pieces for layering over a Dirndl!
Looking for more style inspiration to stay warm in your Dirndl dress? Here's a blog with tons of ideas!
Rare Dirndl FAQs
Oktoberfest is an annual celebration held in Munich, Germany since 1810! It’s a 16-day festival that offers up a one-of-a-kind experience with traditional Bavarian food, tasty beer, and loads of entertainment. Each year more than 6 million people from around the world come together to take part in this amazing festival. Whether you’re a fan of German culture, an outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for an excuse to party, Oktoberfest is sure to provide an unforgettable experience! So come join the fun and raise a stein (or two!) at this incredible event.
How to clean your Dirndl?
The best way to have your Dirndl cleaned is to have it dry cleaned. Let the experts take care of it for you and avoid any mishaps in the process. Learn more about how to keep your Dirndl, apron and blouse clean here. For blouses, there will always be the unavoidable pit stain. Here are our tips and tricks to remove pit stains from your blouse.
Can I wear a Dirndl if I'm not German?
Of course you can! The Dirndl has such a rich history, but as long as you do it correctly, it makes every German event more fun! Here’s my full take on people wearing a Dirndl if they’re not German.
Should I get a Dirndl before Germany or when I get there?
My answer may be a bit biased, but I think you should TOTALLY get a Dirndl before you go. I don’t know about you but when I’m on vacation I want to be in the moment, and sometimes that means not having time to go shopping. Buying a Dirndl before going to Germany helps you be prepared to jump right into enjoying yourself. Read more here.
How do I wear a Dirndl when it's super hot?
Dirndl wearing season is typically in the summer and even if you wear it in October, it can get HOT! Here are our hacks to wearing your Dirndl in the summer.
There you have it! The ULTIMATE dirndl style guide. No matter your size or style, now you know how to properly wear a dirndl, what to wear on top and underneath, and all our fabulous tips and tricks to wearing a dirndl and being comfortable in any season. Plus, there are so many ways to incorporate your style; whether it's with your accessories, hair, shoes or something completely different, you have the creative freedom to make any dirndl outfit uniquely yours. So, next time you put on your dirndl, send us a picture! Tell us all about how you made this outfit yours. We can wait to see how you make this traditional German outfit yours.
Want a digital download, pdf copy of our official style guide? >> https://bit.ly/dirndlstyle
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As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. - Erika