It’s a strange new world if you’ve never gone about buying a dirndl online. I bought my first ever dirndl in person at a store in Munich, Germany and even then I just stood there at the window with trigonometry formulas flying around my head.
If you’ve never bought a dirndl before, figuring out what to wear for Oktoberfest can be overwhelming. You want a great-looking piece, that fits properly (*coughcleavage*), that costs less than open heart surgery, and that doesn’t fall apart after your first Fliegerlied. Also, knowing what you need and which pieces go where are less clear than your windshield during pollen season.
So, I’m here to help. I’ve purchased tons of dirndls, both online and in person. I’ve bought them online from retailers in the U.S. and retailers in Europe. One time I walked out of a German H&M with four of them. I may have a problem. (With closet space that is, nothing else.)
Why buy a dirndl online?
One of the most frequently asked Oktoberfest questions I get about dirndls is: Should I buy a dirndl online before my trip or wait until I get to Germany? And the answer is not so straightforward—there are positives and negatives to both. And sometimes you just don’t have a choice. If this is starting to sound a lot like choosing between window and aisle, you’re not that far off.
But since you’re reading this article, you clearly are interested in (or at least curious about) buying a dirndl online. Here’s why you should consider buying a dirndl online:
You should buy a dirndl online if you’re not going to Germany
Like if, oh I don’t know, Oktoberfest got canceled and you’re forced to celebrate stateside. In this case, online is your only option.
This also applies if you’re simply going to be celebrating at any of the many, many Oktoberfest celebrations this side of the Atlantic. It seems like there’s an “Oktoberfest” in every major city and at every craft brewery these days. While these tend to be far less demanding of tradition, wearing an authentic dirndl is still the quickest way to wunderbar time!
Shop for a dirndl online if you don’t want to waste time in Germany
If the last thing you want to do on your trip to Germany is spend hours bouncing from dirndl shop to dirndl shop trying on clothes, by all means, buy your dirndl online ahead of time. Just because you’re in Germany doesn’t mean you’ll find a dirndl you love or that fits the way it should. And it could take a loooong time to figure that out.
Don’t waste precious sightseeing (ahem, beer drinking) time trying on tracht in a communal dressing room. Buy your dirndl online before your trip and it’ll be just one less thing to worry about while you’re there. Besides, you’ll need all that extra anxiety for when it comes time to drive on the Autobahn.
Buy a dirndl online if you want to make sure you get one that truly fits
I know this sounds a little counterintuitive, but hear me out. If you’re someone who doesn’t fit perfectly into every garment you try on, this may be your better option.
For instance, I’m short and small so I almost always have to get my clothes taken up at the bottom and taken in at the top. Everything I buy is about a foot too long, a foot too wide and, you know, “pre-teen playing dress-up in her mama’s muumuus” is not the Oktoberfest look I’m going for. Let’s just say I’m more popular at my local tailor than the word ‘bespoke.’
Ordering a dirndl online means I’ll be able to get it altered to fit my body exactly the way I like. When I’m through, that thing will hug my body better than the Ashley-shaped impression in my couch cushions.
Additionally, when buying a dirndl online you have the added option of getting one custom made as I did in 2018. I worked with Erika at Rare Dirndl here in the U.S. to create an entirely custom dirndl.
My type-A, control freak self got to customize everything from shape, color, trim, details, fabrics, and all to my own personal measurements. And you betta believe I built pockets into that baby.
Custom made dirndls do cost more than buying “off the rack” but it’s worth having a completely one-of-a-kind, dare I say bespoke, piece that will last a lifetime full of fests.
Buying a dirndl online can potentially save you lots of money
Purchasing an authentic dirndl in Germany can be expensive. Buying one during Oktoberfest can mean the different between Ein Prosit and “I’m broke, shit.”
That’s not to say you can’t find a delightfully decent dirndl in Germany for a great price, it’s just that it’s going to take a little more work and a little luck. Regardless, purchasing a dirndl from an online retailer (and doing so in the off-season) is your best bet at saving some cash.
Buying a dirndl online, you’ll be able to really dig into some comparison shopping as well as take advantage of any promo or coupon codes. And if you buy from retailers like Amazon (et al), you have the added benefit of potential free shipping and free returns.
Online dirndl shopping opens up an entire world of options
By that I mean… if you buy your dirndl at a brick and mortar shop in Germany, you’re limited to whatever small selection they have. You can only choose from their available sizes, designs, colors, and prices. (And they don’t stock a ton of anything.) You may be stuck with a color you don’t like because it’s the only one in your size. Or an uncomfortable fit because it’s the only style you could stand. And other first world problems.
But buying a dirndl online means you have an entire internet’s worth of selection to choose from. In this case, almost every color, shape, size, price, and combination is available to you. There’s a very small chance you won’t fit a dirndl you absolutely adore when shopping for one online.
9 tips for buying a dirndl online
Now that you know why you should consider buying a dirndl online, you should also know how to. And I’m sure this isn’t your first online shopping rodeo, but it may be your first Bavarian one. (Pro tip: dirndl shopping is better with beer.) Here are 9 solid tips and crucial things to know before buying a dirndl online.
1. Make sure you buy all 3 pieces
Super important thing to know that I probably should’ve led with—dirndls are made up of three pieces:
When you’re buying an Oktoberfest outfit online, make sure you’re buying all three pieces. Most of the time you’ll see dirndls sold as “2-piece sets.” This means you’re buying the dirndl and the apron together, and the blouse is almost always “sold separately.”
But yeah, I said almost always. Sometimes it does come with the outfit but this is rare. And this is usually only with cheaper, more costume-y kinda dirndls. The kind that come in plastic bags. And not even the good plastic bags. We’re talking the crunchy ones.
Blouses are, you know what I’m just gonna say it, always sold alongside the rest of the dirndl. I’ve never purchased a dirndl anywhere that didn’t also sell blouses to go with them. That would be like selling salsa but not chips. Conditioner but not shampoo; lamps but not shades! Complete anarchy! What do they think this is? An airport?
2. Pay attention to the lengths
When purchasing an Oktoberfest dress online, pay attention to the length of it. Dirndls come in three lengths:
Chances are “midi” is what you want. Obviously you prefer what you prefer, but for Oktoberfestivities and the like, your dirndl dress should fall somewhere between just below to just above your knee (adapt for your height). Super tall girls, you may want one a little longer. Shorties like me, above the knee is fine lest we look even more like we just rolled outta the Shire.
“Midi” dirndl lengths are the most popular, the most comfortable, and look great on every body of every size, shape, and age. On some of the more authentic dirndl sites you’ll have your choice of length. And on sites that don’t specify the length with a name, midi is most likely what the dress will be.
“Maxi/long” is primarily seen on older women and usually come in more traditional styles. This is not typically what you see at Oktoberfest or any kind of Oktoberfest-style party. Plus, the last thing you need is a dirndl that drags on the beer- and glass-covered ground. We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two! We Are Drinkers! Ba-ba-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum!
“Mini” dirndls are short. And I gotta say, you’re really taking your life cheeks in your hands with a mini. No one wants to sit bare bum on a beer tent bench.
Plus, In some photos mini dirndls look perfectly normal, falling at the knee. In others, the wearer looks like an overgrown child beauty pageant contestant. Toddlers & Tiaras, The College Years: Still Toddlin’
3. Stay away from cheap costumes
When shopping for dirndls online, stay as far away as possible from cheap “Octoberfest” costumes. You know the ones—anything with a name like:
- Flirty Fraulein
- Oktobermiss Beer Maid
- Sexy Swiss Sweetie (they mean “sweetie” as in candy corn right?)
- And especially, the infamous Beer Babe
I’ve linked to these to show you what not to buy. Ever. These not-even-dirndls look cheap, smell cheap, and make you feel cheap. Don’t spend less on a dirndl than you did on, say, breakfast.
These Oktoberfest costumes are inauthentic, offensive, downright tacky, and chances are you won’t get more than one use out of them. If that. I’ve seen some midday-at-Oktoberfest stuff.
When shopping for dirndls online, you can still find some on the inexpensive side that don’t look trashy, mocking, or like something out of Carrie Bradshaw’s season 2 closet.
4. Pay extra attention to the size chart
You’ve bought clothing online before (right?), you know to check the size chart. But buying a dirndl online demands you pay a wee bit more attention.
For starters, determine whether the size chart uses inches or centimeters. It will show the dimensions in inches if it’s a U.S. online retailer and centimeters if it’s based in Europe or just about anywhere else in the world. Bravo America. You think you’re so cool with your secret language.
Next, does the size chart use your personal measurements, or the measurements of the garment? If it’s in human measurements it’ll say things like: chest, waist, hips. And if it utilizes garment dimensions it’ll say: shoulder to shoulder, length, neck to hem, skirt length, etc.
For human measurements
If it bases its sizes on human measurements, time to bust out the tape measure. Wear it around your neck when you’re not using it to make it look like you know what you’re doing—a little trick I picked up at the tailor. Then, uhhh, measure where it says to. Pretty simple actually.
For garment dimensions
When it shows the dimensions of the dirndl, go into your closet and get out your favorite dress. Or at least, the one you feel fits you the best. We all have that one. It’s probably long past its expiration date but fashion be damned! Measure that dress against the measurements on the size chart and pick the size you think matches the closest.
And lastly, at some point in this process, make note whether the sizes listed are in U.S. sizes, Germany sizes, UK sizes, etc. According to the chart below, if you wear a size 6 in the U.S., your ideal dirndl will be a 34 in Germany, and an 8 in the UK. In Italy that’s a 42.
Look, there’s only so much a seamstress can do if you accidentally buy a 42 in US sizes. If the country isn’t listed with the sizes for some strange reason on the site you’re purchasing from, use this clothing size conversion chart.
5. Don’t forget to factor in your bra
For some of us, we need a little (ok a lot whatever shut up who asked you) extra boost. Personally, with my dirndls I wear the Victoria’s Secret Bombshell which adds two whole cup sizes (and boy does it ever!).
If this is the case with you too, don’t forget to wear the bra you’ll wear with your dirndl when you take your measurements and choose sizes. Overstuffed sausage is not the new black, honey. Not even in Germany.
6. Read the reviews
To give you the best idea of what to expect from a dirndl you want to buy online, check the reviews. But… and this a big ol’ Jabba the Hutt but… take them in stride. Reading online reviews is risky and people be crazy (to just downplay it all around).
However, in this case you’ll want to check an item’s reviews for things like:
- “runs small”
- “runs large”
- “true to size”
These review clues will help you decide which size to ultimately commit to. Reviews are also great for learning if an item’s colors are as pictured, what the material feels like, overall comfort, and more. You can even filter reviews for keywords like: quality, fabric, length, or anything else you’re looking for information on.
On Amazon, user reviews often include actual photos from verified buyers and this is my favorite feature. This way, you can see what the dirndl looks like in real life, on a variety of actual human bodies. You can also take a look at an item’s product questions and answers from buyers (and ask your own if you have them).
7. Be careful who you purchase from
As always when shopping online, be extra careful from whom you purchase. Just because a website is willing to take your credit card number doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get anything in return. I’m just saying, I think we all learned a thing or two when that Nigerian prince came-a-knocking.
When looking to buy a dirndl online, start with sites you already trust personally and word-of-mouth recommendations. Amazon is a site you already use and trust to store your credit card number, why not start there? If it’s good enough for your dog treats and your bath salts, it’s good enough for your dirndls too. (However, always check reviews for things like “this item never showed up,” etc.
As for word-of-mouth, if someone you know has purchased a dirndl before and was happy with his/her purchase, that’s another great place to start. (Yes, I’m going to list some of my favorite places to buy dirndls online in just a minute.)
After that, simply always be careful who you give your credit card information to. Most sites are legit, some are complete and utter scams. Take special care when navigating a website based in a foreign country—a great time to lean on previous reviewers’ experiences.
And, as always, if something feels too good to be true, it almost certainly is. If you find a dirndl online that’s mysteriously and significantly less expensive on one site over another, take the advice of 90s German Eurodance pop group Real McCoy and Run Away.
8. Order in advance
When buying an outfit for a timely even like Oktoberfest (whenever it is you’re celebrating), you’ll want to order your dirndl as far in advance as possible. Obviously you’ll need to factor in shipping time, but also:
- You may need to make a return or exchange in the event of a defective/wrong item, ill-fitting item, what-have-you.
- You’ll need extra time if you want to get it altered. The place I take mine usually has my items ready somewhere between 3-7 days.
- Allow for extra, extra shipping time if you’ve purchased from an overseas company. When I bought my dirndl online from Alpenclassics (UK), my dirndl arrived at my house in the U.S. in two weeks. (Then I had to get it altered.)
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy your dirndl online unless you’re 100% fine wearing whatever you receive. Even if they confuse Oktoberfest with Sausage Fest and you have to attend the party as a giant bratwurst named Frank. At least it’s on theme.
9. Take advantage of promo codes
One of the biggest perks of buying a dirndl online is getting to use promo codes—the less embarrassing way to go about extreme couponing. The day they make a reality show about online promo code users, I’mma head out.
I love a good promo code—a way to save significant amounts of money just by typing in a few choice letters and numbers. What. Is. Not. To Love? To find these, I head to either Retail Me Not or the company’s Facebook page to see if they’re running any current promotions.
But the one tool that has saved me the most money is the Honey app. Honey is a 100% free tool you download to your Google chrome browser that automatically applies coupon codes any time you make an online purchase. Like, codes from a n y w h e r e. This tiny little button searches the internet instantly and applies the best coupon code it can find to your cart. It is, by far, the easiest way to save money online. Join honey here.
Where to buy dirndls online
There are more places to buy dirndls online than there are cities in Germany to wear them. Probably. I have experience with just about a handful of those. (If you throw in a “honk-honk” that makes a pretty good dirndl joke.)
Here are the online dirndl retailers I can recommend to you and some dirndl suggestions to get you started:
Amazon is the obvious first choice because Amazon rules all. Beep boop beep… powerless to resist… Here, you can pick up a decently-priced dirndl along with the rest of your Oktoberfest party supplies, a Mother’s Day gift, aaaaand some LED light bulbs. On Amazon you can buy a dirndl that looks traditional but doesn’t cost a ton.
This is the best place to get a bunch of reviews and buyer insights, they’ve already got your credit card number so you don’t have to get off the couch and get your purse, and there’s a good chance you’re all about that 2-day shipping. They offer free returns on most purchases and you already know how the whole operation works.
Here are some of my favorite dirndls on Amazon:
- This green/blue and silver/gold dirndl is divine, dahling
- This super feminine gray and pink dirndl is lovely
- I love this satiny silver and gold dirndl
- This black and teal dirndl is so different from the rest, I love it
- And don’t forget to pick up a blouse!
Rare Dirndl is an amazing company run by an amazing woman here in the United States. It’s actually the only place I know where you can buy high-quality dirndls in the U.S. Correct me if I’m wrong?
At Rare Dirndl you get beautiful, one-of-a-kind designs, excellent craftsmanship (craftswomanship?), personalized service, free shipping, and 10% off with my promo code (MYWANDERLUSTYLIFE). I have a couple of Rare Dirndls including my custom piece I just love.
Here are some of my favorite dirndls from Rare Dirndl (but check back often as her collection is constantly growing!):
- The Time Traveler’s Dirndl, because I’m obsessed with all things related to time travel (coughnerd)
- The “Die Heimat” Dirndl, because I can’t get enough of these colors
- I especially like the Mötley Crüe Dirndl because I’m all about that 80s look and I’ve been aching for an excuse to use my crimper
- And you can’t go wrong with an LBD–a Little Black Dirndl. I mix and match my LBD with different colored ribbons and aprons to create many different looks.
- Don’t forget, Rare Dirndl sells blouses too! (Of which I also own a few)
- And for what it’s worth, they’re also selling handmade face masks as well.
Alpenclassics was the first online retailer I purchased a dirndl from. It had been recommend to me by a couple of people in the dirndl crowd (yes, we’re a crowd) so I went for it. It’s a Germany/UK-based company but the shopping experience was easy, fun, and I never distrusted them for a second.
I love the dirndl I bought from them and wear it quite often. It’s a quality piece at a great price and I have zero complaints. Paying for it was easy, shipping took two weeks door-to-door, and communication was great.
Alpenclassics has a lot of styles to choose from and the website is well organized. You can sort by mini/midi/long, by color, by style, and more. It’s actually my favorite way to shop for dirndls online.
Here are some of my favorite dirndls from Alpenclassics:
- I absolutely love the shape of this navy/pink dirndl
- This mint/floral dirndl is perfect for the beer gardens
- This purple/green dirndl is beautiful
- And don’t forget a blouse! Alpenclassics always has a huge collection of trendy blouse styles.
These suggestions should at least give you a great place to start your online dirndl shopping! Be sure to check out my full guide to what to wear to Oktoberfest next. As always, feel free to reach out on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter or leave a comment below if you have any dirndl questions. Prost!
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What online Oktoberfest shopping questions do you have for me?
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