Where the dirndl dress really came from
Contrary to popular belief, the dirndl didn’t come from the Alpine farmers. Initially, it was the dress code for female servants and housekeepers. Around 1870/80, the dirndl all of a sudden became a fashion phenomenon. The upper class ladies in the Alpine area started wearing this type of dress when vacationing in their countryside summer resorts and places. They believed that wearing dirndl dresses they would fit in better into the countryside lifestyle.
Why the odd name ‘Dirndl’?
Indeed, the name for this traditional Bavarian and Austrian dress is funny. The word ‘dirndl’ itself comes from the Bavarian-Austrian word ‘dirn(e)’, which means ‘young girl’. In the upper German dialects ‘Dirn’ was even used for female servants and maids of the lower class, also working on farms.
Fun fact: Even the word ‘Dirne’, which was used for prostitutes in urban brothels, refers back to the original meaning of female servants and maids of the lower class.
Dirndls as the traditional Bavarian attire?
It depends: Yes, the German dirndl has become part of the Alpine traditions and still reflects national pride. But the dirndl as we know it today is more a fashion statement than anything else. Traditional dirndl clothing however follows particular regional color combinations, cuts and even accessories.
So, the dirndl is traditionally worn by Bavarians on holidays, is a fashion statement and even sexy!
What does the traditional Oktoberfest dirndl dress consist of?
The dirndl consists of several pieces. It needs to fit tight and a firm material must be used for the cleavage to look perfect.
The upper part of the dirndl is called ‘Leiberl’ or ‘Leibl’ in the Alpine regions, which means ‘corsage’ or ‘bodice’. It is laced. The cleavage is important. It’s trimmed with various shapes of borders that have different funny names depending on their look, e.g. Froschgoscherl, Herzrüschen or Zackenlitzen. Usually the blouse is white with pffy sleeves. The wide skirt starts at the waistline. The contrast-colored half-apron on top of the skirt is the finishing touch. Common accessories are the choker with gem stone and a shoulder shawl in some cases. Dirndl dresses are ornamented with rich, artful embroideries and frills. Cotton, lace, linen and even flannel are commonly used fabrics.
Make sure that you wear elegant shoes with it. Boots are a ‘No-No’.
Little-known dirndl secret
Last but not least a little known secret about Oktoberfest dirndl dresses
The side, where the apron is tied to a bow signals experts of Oktoberfest traditions whether a woman is still single and available for a flirt or whether to keep the fingers off. If the bow is on the left side of the apron it means that the girl is still single.
In other words, for you ladies, who are reading this post: Don’t put the bow of your apron on the wrong side! It may get you in trouble unknowingly!