Next month, I’m going to Munich for Oktoberfest with my boyfriend and his Bavarian grandparents. Which is why I recently found myself in a thrift store in an unfashionable corner of Berlin, trying on the components of a traditional dirndl (blouse, dress, apron). After I put on just the top, which has ruffled shoulders and a bare midriff (dirndl blouses stop just below your bra line, so as not to bunch under the tightly cinched waist of the dress), I looked in the mirror and had the feeling I’d seen this look elsewhere. And not just in vintage beer ads. That seemed odd, given that I’d never before dressed myself in a white, puff-sleeve, cinched-bust crop top.
I opened up Instagram’s Explore tab on my phone and immediately figured out why: Legions of leggy Insta-models with Positano tans, their upper halves clad in half-shirts that looked just like my dirndl blouse, looked back at me, probably coyly touching their hair. There was Chiara Ferragni of the Blonde Salad, in a cropped, off-the-shoulder number in Ibiza. And French model Gabrielle Caunesil’s red seaside-in-the-sun version. And influencer Lotta-Liina Lavanti in Copenhagen (although, she might in fact be wearing the genuine article).
Still in the shop, I went back and forth between the racks in the Oktoberfest section and my phone, comparing the store’s selection of both new and secondhand traditional dirndlblusen with the of-the-moment tops worn by Instagram girls who seem to be permanently on vacation. The details are strikingly similar, from the cropped length, to the gathered bustline, to the puffy sleeves that can be shoved off your shoulders. The biggest difference are the prices. There are scores of other blousy crops tops out there, but a recent post on Man Repeller identifies it as the “white blouse phenomenon” and traces its origins back to a shirt released by the small French label MaisonCléo. More recently, Los Angeles label Courtyard started making similar versions. These tops all cost somewhere around $100, give or take.
I come bearing good news: The real deal, dirndlblusen, are all over Amazon and eBay, at prices a prudent German grandma would approve of. I’ve even done one-to-one comparisons between these and the ones filling up my Instagram feed, and I swear, no one will ever know the difference.
The best dirndlblusen on the internet
Go for a black version, and deviate from the standard white tops.