How to Buy a Dirndl

Here in Germany, the fest season is all through Summer with many big and little festivals, culminating with the big blowout of Oktoberfest which is usually the last two weeks in September throughout the first week in October.  There are plenty of opportunities to wear a dirndl.  What is a dirndl?  It is traditionally the garb of choice for festivals and special occasions specifically in Bavaria, Germany and Austria.  They were originally worn by peasants and maids and began to be picked up by nobles and high class people as a fashion statement around 1870.  Eventually, they became renown for being worn by everyone in these regions and this trachten of a dirndl for the females and lederhosen for males is what foreigners generally think of when they think of Germany.

When I moved to Bavaria almost a year ago, two weeks after my arrival was Oktoberfest.  There was no way I was missing out on the event even though we had just arrived so I promptly went out and bought a dirndl (and lederhosen for my husband) and headed to Oktoberfest.  I learned a lot in the process of finding and buying the dirndl for me and with Oktoberfest fast approaching again, I wanted to let others in on everything I know.

There are generally three different lengths of a dirndl to choose from:

There's the mini, the medium length, and the long dirndl.  Granted, you can also find everything in between, but these are the general lengths.  I initially thought that I would want a mini dirndl, the obvious sexy choice.  But after trying one on, it was obvious that I looked like I was trying to celebrate Halloween and it just felt too juvenile especially on my frame.  Some people look great in the mini style, but it wasn't for me.  I put on a medium style dirndl and I loved it.  Plus it would provide a little more coverage to shield from the cold because let's face it, it's already cold in Germany by September/October.

Here is my Dirndl from last Oktoberfest and you can read about it here:

I chose a deep purple dirndl with green accents, a corset stringed front, and a village scene for my apron.  I loved it and I still do!  I chose a shoulderless blouse and black flats.  But I missed a crucial part of how to wear the dirndl.  Can you guess what that is?  I didn't have my boobs out.  Think I'm joking?  The dirndls are made to be worn this way and they are very flattering for pushing the girls out and cinching at the waste and being flowy in all the right places.  Since Oktoberfest is all about the beer, this is a flattering outfit to be wearing.

Here are some of the options of blouses you can choose:

While there are many awesome online shops that you can find to buy your dirndl.  I'd definitely recommend you actually go in a trachten shop to buy one.  Why?  Because the staff selling them are well informed on how to help you pick the one that is right for your body type, what it should look like, and tips on how to tie your apron.  There are so many trachten shops in Bavaria.  My favorite are Moser and Pollinger.  Last year I had the sales women help me pick out mine and she even convinced me that the tighter it is the better.  I was trying to be modest and wear it loosely and she said, "nein" and even encouraged that I wear a pushup bra with it to really accentuate the girls.   Yes, even the older women show their boobs in these outfits. There are a lot of restaurants that the workers wear these in year-round.  


For shoes, some brave girls wear heels which I admit looks best with the dress, but if I am going to be walking around all day, I have to go for flats.  You can also accentuate your outfit with a cute hat and many women wear necklaces like this, that can also be purchased by your significant other or admirer at a fest:

How to Tie your Apron:

Another great thing about actually going in a shop to buy a dirndl is that the women can give info on how to tie your apron.  The woman helping me informed me that there are four ways you can tie your apron, and be careful because you can give an admirer the wrong signal depending on how you tie your apron!  

To the left:  Means you're single (and possibly ready to mingle)
To the right:  Means you are married or taken
To the middle: Means you are a virgin or young
To the back:  Usually means you are a widow


A nice dirndl  can generally cost you between 50 to 300 Euro.  But, you get what you pay for.  You can go and buy a cute 50 Euro dirndl and that's perfectly fine, but you may end up seeing numerous others in the same outfit.  I wanted to find something unique so mine was a little more expensive and cost 200 Euro.  As much as I want to buy a new one for this year, I can't really justify only wearing mine once so far, so I'll be rocking it again this year as many people do.  They are expensive.


There are so many other looks to a dirndl.  There is a Christmas Dirndl and even a traditional Wedding Dirndl, but if you aren't so into wearing a dress, you can do the alternative and wear a female lederhosen.  If pulled off correctly, these can look really cute. I may need to try this out before I leave.

 So there is everything I know about dirndl shopping.  To be honest, the shopping part and trying them on is one of the funnest parts.  They are so beautiful and a huge part of the culture in Bavaria.  You can read my post about last years Oktoberfest here, but I will also be going again next month!  I didn't touch on the male lederhosen, (I could probably write something on this too if you are interested) but here is a picture of what it looks like below, cute huh?:

I really enjoyed writing this post and while I'm certainly not an expert, if you have any more questions about buying a dirndl feel free to leave a comment and I can try to help you out! Did I leave anything out?  Let me know!

All images (besides my own) were found at

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Beautifying A Plain Vase

Very easily you can transform an ugly vase into a customized vase on the cheap.  I bought a vase at the Euro store for, you guessed it, one Euro.  I decided to personalize it by dressing it with Toile De Jouy fabric with French Provincial scenes.  I really like how it turned out.  

 I made the process super easy by using double sided tape to adhere the fabric to the vase.  The tape actually worked out better than I thought because it allowed me to completely flatten the fabric to the glass.  Make sure you have a strong double sided tape or it may peel.  The fabric motifs are endless really, because you can just peel off the fabric and add some new fabric!  I accented it with a little bow and Et Voila!  I added some pale yellow roses and I think it looks simple and clean.

Below, the offending vase:

And, the beautified vase:

I can think of so many beautiful fabrics to use.  Burlap, linen, lace.  If you wanna get trendy you can use a chevron or ombre fabric.  Too easy.  I'm always trying to find fun ways to use fabric.

What kind of fabric would you use?

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DIY Cabinet Door Chalkboard

Every now and again here on this little blog I like to pretend I am crafty.  I meant to post this project a few days ago but I've been fighting with my project and repainting.  So a while back when a neighbor of mine was moving she had an entire German cabinet that she couldn't take home with her.  She scrapped most of it but thought the doors were pretty and saved them for me because she knew I liked junk.  Isn't that nice when people are thoughtful like that?  Anyways I've been storing them away until I had time to put them to use in a DIY project.  There are two of them so I decided to make one of them into a chalkboard and try out some Annie Sloan Chalk Paints that I had been waiting to try out. 

Finding the Chalk Paint in Germany could have been a whole other blog post in itself.  I had to drive an hour away to find this very nice German lady who is a Stockist.  She even had her daughter take a ride with me to show me where the ATM was in their little town.  Why did I need to make a trip to the ATM?  Well if you've ever bought Chalk Paint, you know that it's damn expensive.  And I think in Germany it may even be double the price!  It's great paint though.  Goes over many surfaces without prepping and it also goes a long way.  The wax is also great too.  In 8 simples steps, here is what I created:

Don't mind my 14 year-old boy chicken scratch handwriting :)

Here is my haul of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I only used the tiny Paris Grey and Clear Wax but I also bought, Dark Wax, and the colors, Old White, Louis Blue, and Emile, which I am excited to try.

So here is what you need for the project:

Step 1: Tape the area you don't want to be covered with chalkboard paint.

Step 2: Take your door frame outside for some sanding.  You can use chalkboard paint on glass but there is a bit of prepping involved.  In order to make the surface porous enough for the chalkboard  paint to stick you'll need to sand it.  This is why you need the bandana.  Sanding glass is something you should use caution with.  You don't want to have those pieces in your house and you certainly don't want to breathe the glass dust in your lungs so take it outside and use a bandana just to be safe.  Use gloves as well.  Sanding the glass sucked because I had to put a lot of pressure to get it sanded and it didn't even looked like much was coming off but it was.

Step 3: After wiping off your glass debris outside, cover the surface with your chalkboard paint.

Step 4: I waited 3 days for my paint to fully dry then I taped up the surface that I didn't want getting my color paint on.

Step 5: Choose your color to paint the frame.  I chose the simple but beautiful AS Paris Grey.  One coat should do it and you don't even have to prep your surface.

Step 6: Distress your frame with sandpaper.  I actually didn't like the way it turned out the first time I tried to distress it, so I ended up painting over it.  I decided to do minimal distressing and followed the line of the wood and highlighted the parts that stuck out.

Step 7: After at least 3 hours put your wax over the painted area.  I originally thought I would use the Dark Wax to make it darker but then I opened the can and it's literally black.  The Dark Wax is a stain and I didn't like how it looked for this project so I put a coat of Clear Wax on with a paper towel instead.  For bigger project I'd say use a rag or paint brush but for this I just used what I had, a paper towel.  The wax goes a long way. I only used the contents of the lid.

Step 8:  The last step involves weathering  your chalkboard.  You are suppose to turn your chalk sideways and rub it on the entire chalkboard, wipe it off and then use your chalk.

And that's it.  I think I will end up hanging this outside so we can leave funny messages.

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Chandelier Love and a WINNER!

I have been wanting a chandelier for my dining room for quite a while.  It was one of those things on my antiques wish-list that I wanted to cross off before I left Germany.  Now, I didn't take home one of those massive and gorgeous chandys from Karlovy Vary but I did get one from Germany.  I had so many chances to find one even at the Tongeren, Belgium flea market and Nurnberg trempelmarkt but I always passed them up.

A couple weeks back there was a festival in my little town with a flea market.  I was so thrilled that my little town was having one and they do this every year apparently.  I walked around not really expecting to find anything and then I saw this beautiful chandelier.  It was gold and had crystals dangling from it and looked old.  Now it's obviously not super old because its electrical but looking old is just as cool.  I really wanted it.  So I asked the seller what her price was.  95 Euro was too steep for me.  So I walked.

About 15 minutes later, I told my friend I was thinking about just asking the lady if she would take a lower price, which I normally would at a flea market.  But, I had a dress on with pockets and only had 65.50 Euro in it. I didn't want to low ball the lady.  But my friend insisted that I at least ask.  I can't believe I didn't listen to my own advice, "If you don't ask you'll never know."  But with encouragement I went and asked if the woman would take the money I had in my pocket.  She literally yelled, "Does anyone speak English?"  I know how to ask how much and say prices but my negotiating skills in German end there, so a man came up and translated for us.  "Well how much do you have?" our translator said. I sheepishgly pulled out the remnants from my pocket and showed her.  She almost immediately said, "Okay."  So I handed her the money and took my prize!

So I walked awkwardly proudly through the streets of my town with this heavy chandelier and went home.  Brandon looked annoyed, as he usually does with any of my purchases, but I as usual ignored his disdain and set the chandy on the table.  He sighed but then promptly went and wired it to the light fixture in our dining room and TA DA.  It worked!  Thank goodness, because I never would have heard the end of it haha.  I said, "Now don't you think we look all fancy and sh*t?"  He nodded his head which obviously meant "yes."

So that's the story of the chandelier that almost wasn't.  I have no idea how old it is (I forgot to ask) but it's probably about 20-30 years old if I have to guess.  And this just reminds me that it doesn't hurt to ask!

Have you gotten any super sweet deals just by asking that you didn't expect?


Now on to the giveaway winner.  Last week I decided to give away a vintage inspired clutch handmade by yours truly.  Well apparently we are calling it "Vintage Bouquet" because the randomly selected winner is:
Diane @ Diane's Vintage Zest!  

Congrats!  Diane is an awesome blogger!  And thanks to everyone who entered!

Oh and don't forget to check out my interview for Expats Blog which was just posted!  I talk about my life in Germany and tips for incoming expats! You can read the interview here!

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Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

For our one year wedding anniversary, Brandon and I decided to plan a weekend getaway to the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic.  When people think of the Czech Republic, they automatically think of Prague, but Karlovy Vary is the second biggest tourist attraction in the Czech Republic and for good reason. I absolutely loved Prague, it is so beautiful and Karlovy Vary is right up there with Prague for me.  You can see beautiful Eastern European architecture with an array of beautiful colors on elegant buildings.

As the story goes, during the 14th Century, King Charles IV hurt his leg.  He fell into the the hot springs and was convinced that this is what had healed his leg. As a result, he ordered the town to be built around the hot springs because of its healing powers.  Since then, Karlovy Vary has been a spa destination for people all over Europe with lapses in tourism due to the various wars.

Karlovy Vary isn't a crazy expensive city for being a spa town but if you are staying at the 
Grand Hotel Pupp, which is considered the best and most elegant hotel in the Karlovy Vary spa scene then you should be prepared to spend some money.  We weren't wanting to spend so much so we decided to stay at the Spa Sanssouci which is close to the Grand Pupp Hotel.  We found a package here, that included half board, a welcome drink, access to the pools, a harmonizing bath for me and full body massage for Brandon and "floating" for both of us.  

The hotel was okay, but I think Americans will have a different idea in their head about what a spa is.  In this area, most spa hotels have real medical procedures and weight loss procedures that they do.  It kind of seemed like a hospital with a lot of older people.  Not quite the spa that I was imagining.  And a word of advice, don't book a package, I'd book the treatments individually because while my harmonizing bath was relaxing and it made my skin soft, the "wrap" that was included was no more than me being wrapped in a blanket and sitting on a lawn chair for 15 minutes.  If you are squeamish about being naked (as most American are) then this might not be the place for you.  All of the treatments are done naked and even at the sauna at the pool there are naked men and women walking around together.  I opted out of hanging around in the sauna lol

I'm not sure if you've heard of "floating" but these floating spas are popping up all over the world.  Essentially, you go into a pod with room temperature saline solution that you literally float in.  There are no lights or sounds and since you are floating and in a sensory deprivation environment,  you are supposed to attain a heightened sense of meditation. Brandon was all about this but I was kind of freaked out.  First, I hate being in an enclosed space and your body really does float without holding your breath.  I eventually got some solution in my eyes and every tiny cut on my body was burning from the salt so it wasn't really relaxing for me but some people love it.  

 Below is the city center:

While walking around town there are these gorgeous elegant stores that sell the most beautiful pieces of home decor and most notably huge and opulent chandeliers.  They were around every corner.  I contemplated buying one but they were too expensive.  

Everyone in Karlovy Vary purchases one of the porcelain made "sippy cups" to go around the city and drink from the springs.  Each spring is said to have it's own curative powers and they are all different temperatures.  This spring below is the Vřídlo spring.

The cups are pretty and come in all different sizes and patterns.  I bought mine to match my scarf!  I told myself I wasn't going to drink any of the spring water because I know it is foul tasting but "everyone was doing it" haha so I figured I'd taste some and then I forced Brandon to try some as well.  What does it taste like? It taste likes warm blood water.  The amount of iron and minerals in the water give it this distinct taste.  I had a mere sip but people were fillin their cups like it was literally going to cure them of whatever ailments they had.

Above is another one of the springs coming out of a snakes mouth.  Affectionately named "the 13th spring" you can actually find a stand where they are selling the famous Czech alcohol, Becherovka.  Go ahead and fill your cup with that, it's better than the spring water.  

Below, after seeing a picture in a magazine of "The Russian Church" that was in Karlovy Vary, I had to see it.  We walked about a mile away from the city center to find it which wasn't too hard, but this was only the picture I could get because it was under construction and the church is right in the middle of a neighborhood so it's impossible to get a good picture. You'd have to be flying above.

Here's a better picture:

Here is the lunch we had in town.  I had chicken with almonds and a cream sauce with dumplings.  It was alright.  Czech food isn't my favorite but this was definitely better than the hotel food, which Brandon kept calling "hospital food."

Before we left town we tried some of the "spa wafers."  There are various fillings but we bought nougat.

This is what it looks like.  Kind of tasted like a communion wafer.

And here are a few pictures I took from our hotel balcony in the morning.  You can see the Grand Hotel Pupp to the right.

So overall, I really enjoyed Karlovy Vary.  It's such a beautiful city.  You can even go hiking and do other outdoor activities in the surrounding forrest.  We took a walk at night thinking it would be scary, but it was so quiet, peaceful, and beautiful.  All of the houses are huge mansions and the landscaping is well-kept.  We walked to an outdoor arena where they were playing a silent foreign movie.  How neat! I would visit Karlovy Vary again, especially considering it's very close to the German border and I may have to go back for one of those damn chandeliers!

Would you visit Karlovy Vary?

There is still one more day to enter my GIVEAWAY for a vintage inspired handmade clutch, here.

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