229  Days
October 5-13 2018

How To Dress For Oktoberfest




Tracht is a traditional national costume of a number of countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and many others.  Most often the word is associated with Austrian and Bavarian costumes, even though many other people and countries have them. A national costume expresses an identity, which usually relates to a geographic area or a period of time in history, but can also indicate social, marital and/or religious status. Tracht often comes in two forms: one for every occasion, the other for festival and formal wear. Tracht is usually worn in connection with special events and celebrations, particularly those connected with cultural traditions, heritage, or pride. Costumes worn by professional guilds are also called “Tracht”. While many have fallen into disuse, carpenter journeymen can still be seen wearing their traditional costume while traveling throughout Europe.  Here in Kitchener-Waterloo, Tracht is part of our Oktoberfest festivities and while you will see many ‘festers dressed in their everyday clothes, there’s no better way to join in the celebration like wearing Tracht!


A dirndl is a type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany and Austria based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants.  The dirndl originated as a simplified form of folk costume and consists of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. While appearing to be simple and plain, a properly made modern dirndl may be quite expensive as it is tailored and sometimes cut from costly hand-printed or silk fabrics.  The winter style dirndl has heavy, warm skirts and aprons made of thick cotton, linen, velvet or wool, and long sleeves. The colours are usually rich and dark.  The summer style is lighter and more frivolous, has short sleeves and is often made of lightweight cotton, silk or satin.

Today, dirndls vary from simple styles to exquisitely crafted, very expensive models. The dirndl is mostly worn in Bavaria and Austria.  Although not an everyday dress, many women may wear it at formal occasions and during certain traditional events.


Lederhosen are knee-breeches (knickerbockers or shorts) made of leather.

Lederhosen are traditionally worn by Germanic men of the Alpine and surrounding regions, including Austria, the highlands and mountains of Southern Germany, the German-speaking part of Italy’s province of Bolzano-Bozen but not Switzerland. The areas in Western Austria and Northern Italy are known as Tyrol and lederhosen are a characteristic of this region.  Lederhosen are made of different types of leather, come with buttons made of deer horn, embroidery in traditional patterns and leather braces, etc. There are two variations:  A short one that ends above the knees and a longer one, the “bundhosen” that extends just below the knee. The former was traditionally used for hunting and working; the slightly longer bundhosen was more formal and meant for holidays.  Lederhosen has remained regionally popular and are commonly associated with virility and brawn. They have remained a symbol of regional pride.  Their role in Bavaria is thus comparable to that of the kilt in Scotland or the cowboy hat in the United States. 

Join in the Festivities!

If you’re looking to join in on the celebration, wearing your own tracht is one of the best ways! Below are some tips on how to dress like a veteran “Oktoberfester”, although the simplest way to get suited up and ready for the festival is by visiting our Oktoberfest Store at 17 Benton St. in Kitchener where we offer everything from traditional to modern bavarian outfits for men, women and kids!

Traditional Bavarian dress for him

Whatever tracht you choose to rock, make sure it’s comfortable so you can grab a friend and dance the night away!

Although the traditional German tracht for women consisted of a dirndl, there are no rules when it comes to joining in the festivities! Many women choose to wear lederhosen as well - check out the Oktoberfest Store for a variety of both dirndls and lederhosen for women!

Here is some interesting history behind the dirndl and how it’s worn!

Traditionally the knot of the apron indicates the marital status of the woman. Bound on her right side means: "I'm Taken". Bound on her left side means: "I'm single and/or available". At the festival, however, you may see women wearing their knot however they choose, and it likely doesn’t indicate their marital status!

The traditional Dirndl is long and falls down to below mid-calf, however, more modern versions of the dirndl come in all lengths, fabrics and designs! To get an authentic look make sure the apron is worn with the bottom ending at, or near, the bottom of the dirndl.

Traditionally shoes worn with dirndls are low or flat, however, wear whatever shoe inspires you to kick up your heels and dance to a polka!




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