Dirndls and Lederhosen - the traditional German alternative to online dating

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Dirndls and Lederhosen - the traditional German alternative to online dating
Woman in dirndl choosing a Lebkuchenherz. Photo: DPA.

The clothes worn at Oktoberfest contain a few useful hints to help you find love, if you know how to read them.


Back before the days of dating apps and social media profiles, people had to find other ways of navigating the world of relationships, and the clothes traditionally worn at Oktoberfest were one of them.

For women, what it comes down to is the position of the bow on your dirndl apron, as this says a lot about your relationship status.

Bow on the Left

If a woman ties her apron on her left side, it's a sign she's single and ready to mingle. Whereas years ago this would have let potential suitors know that a woman was looking for a husband, nowadays it's probably just a sign that she wouldn't be opposed to a chat. Of course one rather large obstacle still in your way is whether or not she actually fancies you back.

Bow on the Right

Bayer Munich's Arturo Vidal and wife Maria Teresa Matus celebrate at Oktoberfest. Photo: DPA.

A Frau with her Dirndl apron tied on the right is not only drunk on beer but also drunk in love, as having your dirndl apron tied on the right side means a woman is taken or married. 

Bow in the Middle

Little girl in traditional dress with apron tied at front. Photo: DPA.

It would be logical to assume that an apron tied in the middle means 'undecided' - the Bavarian equivalent of putting 'it's complicated' as your relationship status.

But no, that's quite far from the reality. Traditionally a bow in the middle is a sign that the wearer is a virgin and is usually reserved for the younger Mädchen. This means that year-on-year unsuspecting tourists, often in fancy dress style dirndls, tie their aprons in the middle, only to wonder why they are being viewed with so many raised eyebrows.

Bow at the back

Waitress carrying 11 beers in Munich Brauhaus. Photo: DPA.

If you spot a woman with her apron tied at the back, she's either a waitress or a widow. Checking which is pretty easy, as the former will be bringing people beer while the latter will be drinking it herself.


Man in traditional dress complete with well-decorated charivari. Photo: DPA.

As for the men, wherever you go in Oktoberfest, lederhosen are a given, but what's likely to help you stand out is a traditional piece of jewellery which is making a come back.

Worn across the front of the lederhosen, the charivari (pronounced sharivari) is a silver chain, 33cm in length, which is hung with several charms.

The charivari was traditionally a status symbol as it is a way of showing your prowess as a hunter and your importance and wealth.

You can hang it with medallions, precious stones, silver charms and even hunting trophies such as claws, horns, and teeth, depending on taste and how big your wallet is.

Perhaps the modern equivalent would be hanging your Gold American Express card and the keys to your Ferarri from your lederhosen instead.

The pieces were traditionally not allowed to be bought but were earned or won, either through hunting, war or a romantic relationship.

Charivari's are often family heirlooms passed down through the generations and some have been known to be worth over €10,000.


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