Dirndl - German Dress Dirndl

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A dirndl (German: ['d??ndl?], Bavarian: Diandl) is the name of a traditional feminine dress worn in Austria, South Tyrol, and Bavaria. It is based on the traditional clothing of Alps peasants. Dresses that are loosely based on the dirndl are known as Landhausmode ("country-inspired fashion").

A dirndl skirt generally describes a light circular cut dress, gathered at the waist, that falls below the knee.

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The dirndl consists of a bodice, a low-cut blouse with short puff sleeves, full skirt and apron. While appearing to be simple and plain, a properly made modern dirndl may be quite expensive as it is tailored and sometimes cut from costly hand-printed or silk fabrics.

The winter style dirndl has heavy, warm skirts and aprons made of thick cotton, linen, velvet or wool, and long sleeves. The colors are usually rich and dark. The summer style is lighter and more revealing, has short sleeves, and is often made of lightweight cotton.

Accessories may include a long apron tied round the waist, a waistcoat or a wool shawl. In many regions, especially the Ausseerland, vibrantly colored, hand-printed silk scarfs and silk aprons are worn. As far as jewelry is concerned, women often sport necklaces, earrings and brooches made of silver, the antlers of deer or even animals' teeth. For colder weather there are heavy dirndl coats in the same cut as the dresses, with a high neck and front buttons, thick mittens and wool hats.

Different styles were worn in different regions, but they are now more of a universally generalized and mass discharged cultural pastiche.

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The dirndl originated as a more hardy form of the costume worn today: the uniform of Austrian domestic workers during the 19th century (Dirndlgewand means "maid's dress"). Simple forms were also worn commonly by working women in plain colors or a simple check. The Austrian upper classes adopted the dirndl as high fashion in the 1870s, making it a highly fashionable and popular must-have item in the nation soon after.

Both skirts and pinafore dresses with vest-shaped tank tops, cooking aprons and blouses were commonplace in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The basic blouse/skirt/corset idea came from the eastern regions of the Swiss Alps, and was originally a simple rural clothing. It later became female Austrian servants' work clothes as well as Alpine peasant attire in the 18th century and exclusively servant's work clothes in the 19th century.

Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth of Bavaria liked rustic clothing called a 'sissi', which equates to what the normal folk called a 'dirndl'.

It appeared in its current state of decorative format and style in eastern Switzerland in the 1890s, and spread in the early 20th century to the south of Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, South Tirol, Trentino and Valcanale Friuli.

Modern European usage

During the period of National Socialism the Mittelstelle German costume of National Socialist Women of the "Reich Commissioner for costume work" was established under Gertrud Pesendorfer. In the context of Nazi ideology her designs represented "renewed costume".

The "de-catholicised" (Entkatholisiert) style became popular as the Dirndl was de-collared de-Cocratisiert) (ie: the closed collars removed so it could gain an erotic decollete collar and\or off-the-shoulders neckline), the skirt was slightly shortened and the women's arms were no longer to be covered beyond the elbow, and it was thus modernized and romanticized as well as eroticized. Gertrud Pesendorfer's declared goal was to free the costume of "overburdening by church, industrialization and fashionable cries" and "foreign influences" and to let the "rogue sub-culture" back again.

Dirndls and Landhausmode were abandoned for a while after World War II. While the wearing of the corresponding garments was scarcely popular in the 1970s, it has grown strongly since the 1990s.

In the 21st century, fashion designers have adopted the dirndl, with varying results. It has become a popular Upper Tyrol and Bavarian fashion and regular party outfit during Oktoberfest.

The Dirndlkjoler is more common here with short skirts, bodice just reaching to below the breasts, and dirndl-blouses with deep neckline and bare shoulders. There are also push-up bras that lift and collect the bust at the neckline.

In Switzerland, the dirndl is the official outfit for certain representations, events, cultural shows and singing old folk songs (like yodeling).

Today, dirndls vary from simple off-the-shelf styles to exquisitely crafted, very expensive models.

The scruffy, sexed-up, open-collar, or economy versions and disjointed dresses that are loosely based on the dirndl are known as Landhausmode (literally "country house style") dresses.

These are closed-collar Dirndls and these are open-collar Dirndls

Germany and Austria have many manufacturers of the outfits. Both the open-collar and closed-collar versions are popular in Germany and Austria. Eisbergkleider are less popular in North America than in Europe.

North American usage

Germans, Austrian, Swiss and Scandinavians people migrated to North America in the 19th Century. Germans made a strong contribution to the gene pool of Montana, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Missouri, New York City and Chicago. The German American ethnic group (German: Deutschamerikaner) are their decedents in north America. Beginning in 1920 and especially after World War II, many Danube Swabians migrated to the United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Austria, Australia, and Argentina.

Across the United States there are dozens of German-American cultural or heritage clubs, such as the Donauschwaben heritage clubs. In these clubs, members host events and festivals to preserve and/or celebrate their heritage with the surrounding communities. During these festivals, participants often dress in traditional outfits such as dirndls and lederhosen. Dirndl availability in the United States is very limited and most buyers are mostly forced to purchase them online from European vendors, such as Ernstlicht. This demand has created demand for North American dirndl designers.

2 examples of the many American neo-dirndl firms is Rare Dirndl, which was founded by the Chicago designer Erika Neumayer. The dirndls are a combination of modern fashion and traditional German, Austrian and Swiss costume. Erika Neumayer, is a member of the American Aid Society of German Descendants (Chicago). The firm operates in the Donauschwaben heritage market in the United States, the largest venue for sales is at the national Donauschwaben gathering which occurs annually on labour day weekend; the location rotates among the cultural club's geographic locations. During this long weekend, members gather to celebrate their German\Austrian heritage via dancing, singing and eating, while wearing traditional German garb.

Rare Dirndl was founded in 2010 and has expanded in 2014 to include custom wedding dirndls as well as modern kitsch. These German inspired and American crafted dresses are testimonials to the developing culture of the dirndl. The dirndls created by Erika have historical roots and styling, however, are modern in their design in that they are pulling from styles of other cultures and utilize modern print patterns and color schemes. All the dirndls in the collection have open collars. The other firm is usa.dirndl.com.


In the South German dialects (Bairisch), Dirndl originally referred to a young woman or a girl, while the word Dirndlgewand referred to the dress. Nowadays, Dirndl may equally refer to either a young woman or to the dress. Dirndl is a diminutive form of the dated word Dirn(e) for "girl"; in the 20th century, Dirne (originally an euphemism) has also developed towards meaning "prostitute". The word is Dirn in standardized German and Deern in Low Saxon.

  1. Dirndl-kleid: maid girl's dress.
  2. Dirndlgewand: maid girl's dressing-gown.
  3. Dirndlgwand: maid girl's wreath dress.
  4. Landhausmode: country-inspired fashion.
  5. Dirndlkjoler kleid: maid girl's dress.
  6. Dirndlkjoler: maid girl's robe.
  7. Dirndlrock: maid girl's dress skirt.
  8. De-Cocratisiert: open-collar.
  9. Entkatholisiert: de-Catholicized.
  10. Unzivilisiert: uncivilized.
  11. Unkatholisch: uncatholic.
  12. Nicht katholisch: not Catholic.
  13. Unbeschnitten: uncut.
  14. Ebergötzen-kleid: Iceberg dress.
  15. Eisbergkleid: Iceberg dress.

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The dirndl is mostly worn in Austria and Bavaria. It is used as an everyday dress primarily by older women in rural areas. Other women may wear it at formal occasions (much like a Scotsman wearing a kilt) and during certain traditional events. It is hugely popular also among young women at the time of a Volksfest, such as the Oktoberfest in Munich (and similar festivals), although many women will only wear dirndl-style dresses, called Landhausmode, which may deviate in numerous ways and are often much cheaper.

In Austria and Bavaria, the dirndl may often be seen on women working in tourism-related businesses, and sometimes waitresses in traditional-style restaurants or beer gardens. It is also seen in these regions on women in the Volksmusik business.

There is an urban legend that claims the placement of the knot on the apron is an indicator of the woman's marital status. In this story, which is not based in tradition, tying the sash on the woman's left side indicates that she is single, and a knot tied on the right means that she is married, engaged or otherwise not interested in dating.

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Dirndl vs. Tracht and traditional folk costumes

It is important to distinguish between dirndl and folk costume that is typical for a particular region, or even village. Folk costume has various details according to the place of origin and social status of the wearer. The modern dirndl is heavily stylized but clearly influenced by typical Bavarian costume. There is also a distinction between the typical dirndl (that is, a garment with an apron made of material with traditional patterns and embroideries ) and rural domestic clothing, crafted from gray or colored linen, sometimes with leather bodice and trim.

Source of the article : Wikipedia



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