A dirndl is a traditional dress from Bavaria that features a blouse, a skirt, and an apron. Dirndls originated in the 19th century, and today they’re still a popular outfit during Oktoberfest and other celebrations. Wearing a dirndl can seem complicated because there are so many pieces, but it’s actually easy to get the hang of it.
Start with the appropriate undergarments.
Dirndls usually expose a fair amount of cleavage, so it’s best to wear a supportive bra with plenty of lift. Many shops which carry dirndls also sell push-up bras, known in the area as a bustehouder, or BH.
Also, you’ll likely want to wear a pair of bloomers or full-coverage undies beneath your dress in case your skirt flies up while you’re dancing.
Put on your cropped blouse and adjust the neckline.
The blouse, or bluse, beneath a dirndl is almost always made so that it stops just beneath the bust. Many of the blouses have a string in the middle that you can use to adjust how low-cut your top is. If you pull the string, the blouse will show more cleavage, or you can loosen the string if you prefer more coverage.
Most dirndl blouses are white, although you can sometimes find them in black or other colors.
Dirndl blouses may have a sweetheart neckline or they may be off-the-shoulder, and they can be plain or adorned with lace and ruffles.
Slide the dress on over the blouse.
A dirndl dress consists of a bodice and a skirt, and it often has both a zipper and laces. The laces are in the front beneath the bust, but the zipper may be on the front, side, or back of the dress.
A dirndl dress is designed to fit very snugly. It should be form-fitting when you put it on, and even tighter once you lace it up.
Tighten the laces on your dress.
If the bodice isn’t already laced, check the pocket of your dirndl for a piece of ribbon or chain. Criss-cross the ribbon through the eyes on the bodice, starting at the top and working your way to the bottom.
Pull the laces as tight as you can. The intended effect is to push up your cleavage and cinch in your waist.
Place the apron at your natural waist and button it to the skirt.
The apron, also called a scürze, should cover the seam on your dress, which should hit at the narrowest part of your waist.
There will almost always be a small button on the dress and a small loop inside of the apron to secure the pieces together.
Wrap the apron ties around your back and make a bow in front.
The most common way to tie your apron strings is with a basic bow. Loop the left tie, then bring the right tie over and around the left loop, creating a second loop. Push the right tie through the second loop you made and pull it tight.
The side where you tie your dirndl apron implies your relationship status, so pay attention to where your bow sits!
Tie the bow on the left side if you are single or the right if you are taken.
If your bow sits on the left side of your waist, it indicates to potential suitors that you are single and open to flirtation, so be prepared to get a little attention if you choose to tie your dirndl this way!
If you are married or in a serious relationship, or if you just don’t want to catch the eye of any young men in the crowd, tie your dirndl bow on the right side.
Bows tied in the center front are reserved for very young girls, although it traditionally meant that a girl was a virgin.
Bows tied in the back to indicate that a lady is either a widow or a waitress.
Carry a small suede purse if you want to bring a bag.
Women who are wearing a dirndl often carry a heart-shaped cross-body purse decorated with a sweet message. In addition to being a cute accessory, these are a practical way to carry a few small items like money or your phone.
These purses are made to resemble the gingerbread hearts which are often sold at Oktoberfest celebrations.
Wear a necklace with a large charm, or kette, if you want to wear jewelry.
A kette has a medium-length chain with a large oval or circular pendant. These necklaces are made to sit just above the cleavage.
While many women choose to wear these necklaces, some prefer the look of a velvet choker or other accessory.
Bring a lightweight jacket or cardigan in case it gets cold.
Oktoberfest is, of course, held in the fall, and temperatures can get chilly, especially in the evening. Bring a light sweater, jacket, or cardigan to help keep you warm as you celebrate into the night.
If your dirndl blouse has puffy sleeves, you may want to opt for a thick scarf or a shawl rather than trying to fit a jacket over the bulky fabric.
Wear practical black shoes.
Black shoes are the traditional footwear to accompany a dirndl, but the style may vary. You may want to wear leather shoes with a thick heel, or you may prefer to wear a pair of ballet flats or even boots.
Whatever shoes you choose, be sure they are comfortable. If you’re attending Oktoberfest, you’ll probably be on your feet for a long time, and you’ll likely be dancing.
If the weather is really chilly, you might also want to wear heavy tights with your dirndl.
Braid your hair for a traditional look.
Braids are the most common hairstyle worn with a dirndl. You can wear 2 long braids, wrap your braids into a crown, or create a French braid.
Although braids are popular, you can choose to wear your hair down or in any style that you prefer.