The Story behind a Dirndl

Dirdl is the traditional wear for German women - actually in the south, around Bavaria, but in the past years with the growing attention of the Oktoberfest it was more and more declared as "the German traditional wear". And German borders with federal counties, kingdoms, empires and tribes has never been easy and when it comes to cultural developments such as a traditional wear its linked in a million different ways. 

The name itself “Dirndl” leads back to the word “Dirne” which is an old-fashioned word for “young girl” or Maid. So the “Drindlgewand” meant nothing else then “dress of a young girl” and is today only used in the shortcut Dirndl.

As said, the Dirndl is a traditional dress from the south of Germany and Austria. Since 1870/80 it used to be a fashion trend in cities as a summer dress in countryside-style - although it originally was worn by housemaids only.

During World War One it became most popular, because it was a cheap alternative to former times dresses for women, which where very extravagant, while most Dirndls can be easily made out of curtains. 

Today it is the lasciviousness of the traditional dress what makes the Dirndl outstanding. It was the Nazi regime which gave design what it is today. The designer and nationalist Gertrud Pesendorfer created the Dirndl in a way to distance the dress from church, so it became more lasciviousness in its design with short sleeves and deep excerpt and shorter skirts. Moreover the Nazis declared the Dirndl was declared as a “German Array”- So that Jewish people where not allowed to wear it anymore and this is when it became "the German dress".

Connected so strongly to the Nazi regime, this is not a nice story anymore. But actually the Dirndl and the Lederhosen just “survived” the Nazi regime. Germans suffered a lot after Hitlers time – Nearly no national pride is left in German culture. In schools kids get educated very critical about their own country and history. But clothing always has-, always been- a way to express in a non-spoken way. With the attention around the Oktoberfest and the prettiness of the traditional clothing, Germans got something to be proud of and to identify with, which simply has been there before and after Hitler. It represents clothes of the former working class, free from church, which today is easily declared as a liberal traditional wear for open-minded people.

Representing the identity sometimes makes us feel home and in a warming way a little proud and connected. If a Dirndl is what makes you look good and represents you with your given identity, then it easily becomes something you will be proud of. 

Want to see more about the different styles of Dirndls? Check out the Pinterest board.