What Makes a Dirndl Authentic?

What Makes a Dirndl Authentic?


A traditional outfit worn by women in Austria and Germany is called a dirndl.  The authentic German dirndl has become quite a popular ensemble among Europeans in particular those going to Oktoberfest. While “dirndl” directly translates to dress, the dirndl outfit is really considered three parts- the dress, apron and blouse.

A glimpse into the history of authentic dirndls

Appealing to women across regions, authentic dirndls have an interesting history. Worn in the nineteenth century by peasants in Bavaria, the outfit has seen quite a few reformations to be where it is today! It was also formerly a uniform of sorts for domestic workers in Austria due to its durability and simplicity. This is where the tradition of the outfit including an apron comes from. What started out as an ensemble for the less privileged quickly grew to fame with people from the upper class adopting the style as the latest trend in the 1870s. They certainly were on to something, considering how the outfit is still a major part of fashion and culture for people in Europe. Talk about making a fashion statement!

What makes a dirndl authentic?

There are many things including the fabric and the fit that help you tell if a dirndl is authWhile the first-ever dirndl was made using simple materials that could be worn for every-day use, it’s reformation as a fashionable outfit gave it new life. The upper class, preferring silks and satins and vibrant colors, gave the authentic dirndls a touch of sophistication back in the early years. Over the years, the choice of fabric says a lot about the quality of the dirndl.  Picking one with elaborate embroidery or patterned fabric is most appropriate. 

While traditional dirndls tend towards the plainer fabrics or less colorful  greens and navy blues, dirndls are made in many different colors today. Popular during the spring seasons are pastels and bright shades while winter tends to favor bright reds and blues. 

For a dirndl to fit properly, you want to aim for a fitted bodice, a dirndl blouse, a wide skirt, and an apron. We often say dirndls force you to have good posture.  They are very form fitting in the torso from the bottom of the rib cage to the shoulders.  At the waist, the dirndl skirt flares out due to it’s pleating.  

The length of the skirt is dependent on your preference.  Traditionally, they fall mid-calf.  However “mini” length dirndls have become more popular especially among younger crowds.  Mini length should fall slightly above your knee. 

The two additional pieces to a traditional German dirndl outfit are an apron and a blouse.  The apron if not made to go with your outfit is traditionally white.  If falls a couple inches above the hem of your skirt and can hide some of the embroidery or details of your dress.  This is normal and is not a reason to skip on the apron.  Wearing an apron is a must.  You will be the talk of the town (and not in a good way) if you are missing your apron. 

The blouse is the last piece to consider in your outfit.  Sleeve length can vary depending on the time of the year.  An optional sweater can be added in the cooler months or at night.  Sleeves tend to be puffy but are also just as beautiful as the dirndl.  Options include detailing around the neckline and beautiful lace on the sleeves. 


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