Best Shops For Buying A Dirndl In Vienna
Dirndl Dresses. When you visit Vienna, grab Central Europe’s most feminine garment. Styles go from frumpy to classic, stylish, historic, retro, sexy, to superkitsch. Here is sound advice from an Austrian folkwear enthusiast holding the flag for dirndl and co. on British soil.
What Makes A Dirndl?
A dirndl is a bodice dress, consisting of a wide skirt, a colourful apron, a bodice and a short or long sleeved white or chequered blouse. There are dozens of dirndl varieties. Many of them characterise a specific region. In Austria, the most traditional dirndl varieties are the Montafoner Dirndl, the Lutzmannsburger festive dirndl, the Gailtaler dirndl, the Wachauer dirndl, and the Bregenzerwald dirndl. Traditionally the skirt is ankle long for festive dirndls and knee high for every day versions. In the past years, traditional dirndl makers have been targeting 20 and 30 somethings with new interpretations, such as the mini-dirndl. All in all, the dirndl ranges between classic, retro, ethnic, and lascivious, which I think makes it so long-lived.
You won’t need ‘Sound of Music’ fan communities to air your dirndl on your hometurf. Go for a contemporary or a really simple traditional model. The best contemporary dirndls have a fashionable Fifties retro look. Watch out for dirndl dresses with a detachable apron.
Other non-Austrian owners of dirndl dresses: Marlene Dietrich, Elisabeth Taylor, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and Katie Perry.
Best Dirndl Shops In Vienna
The most original dirndl dresses, whether traditional or modern, are made and sold by a couple of traditional Austrian family businesses who specialise in Austrian folkloric wear. The list below represents a mix of my personal favourites with popular local brands. Most of the shops also offer children’s dirndls.
Great craftsmanship, attention to detail, fine materials, original cuts: Gössl is the best address if you are passionate about authenticity and the history of things. I own a Gössl dirndl in silk and a traditional jacket made from fine felt and treasure them for their fine fabrics, great cuts, embroidery and authentic styles. Gössl products are not cheap but usually last for decades.
Gössl is a Salzburg based second generation family business. The stunning baroque headquarters just south of the city of Salzburg include the flagship store, a tailor shop for customisations, a museum of Austrian folk dress, a restaurant and cafe. Other shops are spread throughout Austria, including a Goessl shop in Vienna, and Germany.
Tostmann dirndl dresses are classics, and quite popular with traditional well off Viennese. Owner and local celebrity Gexi Tostmann has been Austria’s showcase dirndl ambassador and guard of traditional styles for decades. She is reported to personally own 365 dirndls, one for each day of the year. The first dirndl dresses originated from the Salzkammergut region in Salzburg, where the business was set up. Like most dirndl stores, Tostmann offers dirndls for everyday wear, festive dirndls and dirndls for girls. The local stores let you mix and match different blouses with different aprons, creating just the dirndl you like.
Mothwurf dirndl dresses have a strong contemporary touch. They deliberately break with Austrian folk tradition and most of them merely quote traditional dirndls. This, and occasional inspirations from other world cultures, makes them very wearable outside ‘dirndl land’. The quite young company originates from Styria (South Eastern Austria) and was established in 1988. There are shops in Graz and in Vienna’s shopping mall Ringstrassen Gallerien.
Vienna store: Ringstrassen Gallerien, Kärntner Ring 5 to 7, A-1010 Vienna
You will likely love Lena Hoschek dirndls if you like feminine retro style fashion and want to find out what a celebrated young Austrian fashion designer like Lena Hoschek does with a dirndl.
Lena mixes her contrasting passions for traditional craftsmanship and nostalgic patterns, fine fabrics and for the 40ies and 50ies into contemporary dirndl dresses with a twist. Among her clients are locals as well as international celebrities such as Katie Perry and Charlotte Roche.
Online shop: http://shop.lenahoschek.com/
Vienna store: Gutenberggasse 17, A-1070 Vienna
Original Salzburger Trachtenoutlet
The outlet concept of Original Salzburger Trachtenoutlet focuses on dirndl dresses at high street prices or less. I have been to the Viennese store several times and found the quality of the materials and sewings good. There are loads of original style dirndls from different regions in Lower Austria. The Trachtenoutlet’s unique selling point, is however, fun and cheeky Austrian folkloric gear. Dirndl dresses go mini and can come in strong colour combinations and unusual patterns. The shop’s quirky dirndl accessories, such as scarves, handbags and hats, are worth a try.
Online shop: http://www.originalsalzburger.at/home.php (German language only)
Vienna store: Weihburggasse 8 (almost opposite Gössl), A-1070 Vienna
Lanz dirndls are traditional, elegant and use feminine colours and shapes. The almost a century old company originates from Salzburg and has been pivotal in taking the dirndl from its rural Austrian origins out into the world. They have an exceptional collection of festive silk dirndls in vibrant colours.
Vienna store: Kaerntner Strasse 10, A-1010 Vienna
Cheap and cheerful Naschmarkt in Vienna is an alternative if you are after inexpensive dirndls. There are a few sellers who stock a good selection of children’s dirndls for approximately EUR 30. If you are lucky, you can get vintage dirndls at Naschmarkt’s flea market.