Peter and I recently spent about a week in Budapest and Vienna. This trip marks the third time we’ve visited Austria, also known as The Ashtray of Europe.
It is a shame that Austria not only allows smoking indoors but they also cater to smokers. I touched on this a little bit on my Salzburg post back in 2012. Smoking indoors is a huge turnoff for us which is really too bad because we enjoy the Austrian culture.
The problem – actually, problems – with finding a dirndl in the past have been:
- Authentic dirndls are impossible to find when outside of Bavaria and the only times we have been in Bavaria have been during the Oktoberfest when there is surge pricing and low inventory.
- European sizing is confusing.
- Authentic dirndls cost several hundred US dollars which is expensive on a cost-per-wear basis.
Peter and I had been walking toward the main square when we passed a dirndl shop. I spotted a hot pink dirndl on the manikin. I stopped and stood there for a second, staring at the dress. Peter urged me to go inside so we did.
I browsed the shop for a few seconds but, honestly, I had no idea where to start. Initially, I was searching the racks for the pink dress that was on the manikin but I couldn’t find any so my search changed to finding another dress that appealed to me.
None of the other dresses appealed to me so I set out to find a shop employee and inquire about the dress on the manikin. Luckily, a shop employee found me first. She greeted me in German and I answered in German which confused matters because I cannot speak German but she thought I could speak German so continued speaking to me in German.
My longish conversation with the employee was in multiple languages complete with a flurry of hand signals and some boob grabbing. She didn’t speak much English and I speak no German so it must have been a comical scene to witness. I wished I’d had a superpower to speak every language in the world.
The first step in the dress shopping process was figuring out my European dress size. She opened my jacket and gave me a proper look and said, “38”.
I had no idea what 38 meant but I said, “Great!”
I went back to the racks and selected a couple of size 38 dresses and blouses and skipped back to the fitting room that she had prepared for me. I emerged from the fitting room a few minutes later and she said, “Too big”. I nodded in agreement.
As I was turning around to go back into the fitting room, she stopped me and cinched the sides of the dress near my armpits so tight that I thought she broke a rib. She repeated, “Too big.” She beckoned her colleague for assistance and they discussed, in Austria-German, my body shape.
They gave me the English Cliff Notes of their discussions. The second employee said, “Too big.” And I went back to the racks and selected a couple of size 36 dresses and we repeated this process.
I emerged from the fitting room gasping for air because the dress was tight, tighter than anything I’d ever worn in my life.
The employee said, “Good. Push-up.” And then pointed to a box of push-up bras.
She asked, “What size?”
I looked at the boxes and they were labeled in the 70s (i.e. 70, 72, 74). I said, “I do not know. Are these sizes in centimeters?” (As if I had any clue was a 70 cm bra equates to in American bra sizing.)
She then reached both hands out and grabbed my boobs.
She smiled and tossed a couple of bras at me and ushered me back into the fitting room.
I emerged from the fitting room in the dress for one final time and she said, “Very good!”
I said, “The dress is tight. I can barely breathe. How will I drink beer?”
She nodded her head with a cheeky smile and said, “It is fitting how it should fit.”
Then she pointed out to me that the dress had pockets and I smiled with delight.
I changed back into my “street clothes” and met her at the cash register to complete the transaction. Now we just need to get back to Oktoberfest so I can wear this dang thing.