AskDefine | Define dirndl

Dictionary Definition



1 a full skirt with a gathered waistband
2 a dress with a tight bodice and full skirt

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A traditional Alpine women's dress having a tight bodice and full skirt


Extensive Definition

A Dirndl is a type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany and Austria, based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants. Dresses that are loosely based on the dirndl are known as Landhausmode.


The dirndl consists of a full and While appearing to be simple and plain, a properly-made, modern dirndl may be quite expensive. In the South German dialects 'dirndl' originally referred to a young woman or a girl. Nowadays, 'dirndl' may equally refer to either a young woman, or to the dress.
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 frivolous, has short sleeves, and is often made of lightweight cotton, silk or satin.
Accessories may include a long apron tied round the waist, a waistcoat or a wool shawl. 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.
The placement of the knot on the apron is sometimes an indicator of the woman's marital status. When this is so, a knot tied on the woman's left side indicates she is single, a knot tied on the right means she is married, engaged or otherwise "taken", and a knot tied in back means the woman is widowed.


The dirndl originated as a simplified form of folk costume; the uniform of Austrian servants' uniforms in the 19th century (dirndlegewand means "maid's dress"). Simple forms were also worn commonly by working women in plain colours or a simple check. Originally, each village had its own style and crest.
The Austrian upper classes adopted the dirndl as high fashion in the 1870s.
The Nazi regime of 1933-1945 entertained romantic notions of traditional Germanic culture. Among other things, Germans and Austrians were encouraged to wear national costume. Eva Braun was frequently photographed wearing a dirndl or folk costume. Hitler further passed an order in 1941, according to which women had to wear a dirndl in his Berghof and Eagle's Nest residences. Ordinary clothes could still be worn in his Wolf's Lair and Führerbunker.
Today, dirndls vary from simple styles to exquisitely crafted, very expensive models.

Contemporary uses

The dirndl is mostly worn in Bavaria and Austria. Although not an everyday dress, many 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 the Oktoberfest in Munich (and similar festivals in southern Germany), although many young women will only wear dirndl-style dresses (called Landhausmode), which may deviate in numerous ways and are often much cheaper.
In Bavaria, the dirndl may often be seen on women working in tourism-related businesses, and sometimes waitresses in traditional-style restaurants or biergartens. It is also seen in these regions by women in the folk music business.
Popular designs are often much brightly colored, with more ornamentation and decorative trim, and much more revealing and provocative (e.g. having a short skirt and/or displaying significant cleavage). A true dirndl at the Oktoberfest is usually a good way of distinguishing between a native Bavarian, and non-native visitors or residents in Bavaria. The true dirndl will be softer in color (as traditional vegetable dyes were not able to make bright colors), less revealing, and less gaudy in style. (See photo below: "Women wearing dirndls".)


See also

External links

dirndl in Bavarian: Diandl
dirndl in German: Dirndl
dirndl in Dutch: Dirndl
dirndl in Swedish: Dirndl
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