Monday, September 21, 2015

Dirndls and "Wearability"

Lena Hoschek Amalie Dirndl

After I wrote the post "Dirndl Mania," one of the comments expressed that while the dirndls were certainly cute, they are not wearable outside of maybe Oktoberfest. It's an intriguing comment, and I think the wearability factor probably depends on an intricate mix of geography, personal style, and the style of the dirndl itself.

I spent a few days in Southern Germany this summer and was surprised at how many women I saw walking around streets in dirndls. I figured that, given that I was largely in towns heavily visited by tourists, these were tour guides and employees of restaurants. However, in Regensburg, our tour guide was a young woman who shared some facts about typical dirndl wearing there. We passed a shop window which displayed mannequins wearing long dirndls.



The guide explained the significance of the dirndl, but said that women her age would almost never wear a long dirndl, that they preferred shorter ones that show more skin on the legs and cleavage. She also said that this demographic always has at least two dirndls: a "fun" one that's for "going out," and a "nicer" one for weddings and family celebrations. She said it was very common for a bride to request traditional dress at her wedding, meaning that girls and women would wear dirndls and boys and men would wear lederhosen. (I have to say that my fascination with this traditional dress has not extended to lederhosen. In Koblenz, I passed a bunch of drunken young men wearing lederhosen and it was like a terrifying gang of Overgrown Bavarian Manboy Frat Dudes. Little boys in lederhosen are always adorable though.) Interestingly, our tour guide also mentioned that lederhosen have become more popular for women to wear but that sometimes they veer toward the short and trashy (think Hotpants Lederhosen).

So, my limited experience on the matter tells me that if you live in Austria or Bavaria, dirndls are very much a part of a typical woman's wardrobe. But what if you live somewhere else and are in love with dirndls? Do you wear one once a year to your local Oktoberfest and that's that? That seems unsatisfactory. (Also, yesterday I went to the Bear Mountain Oktoberfest and was one of only 3 women wearing dirndls [see the other two below!]. I did see a woman wearing a t-shirt that read, 'This Is My Beer Drinkin' Shirt,' which was much more typical of the dress overall. Disappointing!)



One question, to my mind, is how does a designer make dirndls more wearable to the rest of the world? What about the dirndl makes it "unwearable"? Is it the blouse? Some designers, like CocoVero, do a great job of adapting the dirndl in ways that make it more like a dress. Adding sleeves, for instance.

CocoVero Dirndl


Designers like Julia Trentini make "dirndl dresses" or dirndlkleid which have sleeves and are more like '50s era shirtdresses than traditional dirndls. Julia Trentini's marketing copy even calls these dresses more "everyday" and mentions that they can be worn either with the apron (like a dirndl) or with a belt (like a dress).

Julia Trentini Marta Dirndl Dress


Julia Trentini Traudi Dirndl Dress
Which leads us to the apron. From my point of view, the one thing about dirndls that seems truly unwearable on a day-to-day basis is the apron. The rest of it is really a jumper and a blouse, and there are certainly ways to incorporate that into one's wardrobe. But the apron is perhaps the sticking point to the modern girl. One could wear the dirndl without the apron, though I know that's sacrilege in terms of traditional dress and custom. The designer in me also wonders if there's a way to hint at the apron: an overskirt or separate wrap skirt? For instance, this gorgeous Noh Nee dirndl suggests the line of the apron with the contrast fabric at the hem of the skirt and the sash at the waist. It could even be worn without the blouse.

Noh Nee Tere Dirndl

Of course, this entire debate this assumes that you care if something is wearable on a daily basis. Lots of stylish people, especially vintage-loving ones, wear things that the average person feels they can't "pull off."

What do you think? Is the dirndl wearable on a day-to-day basis? If not, are there ways to make it more wearable? Would you wear a dirndl without an apron?

69 comments:

  1. I think it's more or less a question of fabric and silhouette. Use a pinstripe and a somewhat less voluminous skirt, but a regular "office" type bluse under it, and you are good to go. Here are some examples from the Dirndl sew-along that happened at one of the major German sewing hubs last year: http://kittykoma.de/schatten-und-licht/
    http://mein-wunderbarer-kleiderschrank.blogspot.de/2014/09/dirndl-sew-along-finale.html
    https://evelyntaschen.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/dirndl-sew-along-6/

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  2. To me what makes it unwearable is the apron and sometimes the fabric design. If you remove it it looks like a wearable 'retro' dress. A dirndl outside Austria and Germany feels as out of place as a kilt outside Scotland.

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  3. My 13-year-old daughter (who is way into steampunk) think the the drindl-sans-apron would be a great steampunk basic...it has a great shape for this genre and can be modified with the right colors and additions (buttons, gears, small chains). For her the drindl would be a daily wear item. She loves the full skirt and small bodice. We're crossing our fingers that you come out with a pattern that we (optimistic, but with limited sewing background) can follow!

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    1. I know you want a pattern from Gretchen, but if you wanted to get started now, there are a few Burda envelope patterns you could try:
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-8498-burda-style-folklore-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-9804-burda-style-dirndl-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-8525-burda-style-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-7162-burda-style-dirndl-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-7179-burda-style-dirndl-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-7202-burda-style-dirndl-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-7232-burda-style-dirndl-dress.aspx
      http://www.simplicity.com/p-7256-burda-style-dirndl-dress.aspx

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  4. When I was young, I refused to wear an apron. Now I do it all the time, in the house. It's a practical thing, but while I can see wearing the dirndl as a regular thing, the apron pushes it over into the costume realm for me.

    That first photo of the Lena Hoschek Amalie Dirndl is so stunning, the apron is gorgeous, so maybe I'd wear that one out.

    regards,
    Theresa

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  5. Random side note: I was playing Scrabble with friends over the weekend and they thought dirndl was a made up word! :) It was a teaching moment--now they know! I am really digging all these dirndl posts, by the way.

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  6. c'est un sujet auquel je réfléchis depuis quelques temps, pour moi ce serait sans tablier et avec des manches.longueur aux genoux et peut être tissus à grandes fleurs.

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  7. Looking at the photos, I think the dirndl-style dresses are better off without the apron--that last one is nice. But if you're going to wear a frilly little blouse, why not have the cute frilly apron too? It's pretty, not kitchen-wear. I could definitely see wearing one of these modern, short dirndls to a party/special occasion if it wasn't unknown to everyone there (also I am podgy and over 40, so perhaps not but I'd put my 15yo in one!).

    I think it's great that the dirndl has made a comeback into modern wear. So pretty. I have been to Regensburg--a lovely city--but it was in 1989 and NOBODY was wearing a dirndl. Lederhosen, or just the hat, yes, but those were mostly older men on hiking outings.

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  8. Interesting. If I met someone on the street wearing traditional Swedish folk costume - and not as a group of dancers or going to a wedding or on Midsummer - I would surely raise my eyebrow. If one of my colleagues started to wear it for work I would really like to know their story. But if someone - not from Austria, Germany - started to wear a dirndl I would be even more surprised. Why wear a folk costume if you're not from that culture and tradition? I feel surprisingly and annoyingly traditional saying so :)

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    2. I agree with you on this point! There are lines of cultural appropriation here that are a little uncomfortable, even though I do have eastern German ancestry on my Mom's side. I do love the necklines, though, so perhaps taking inspiration from dirndls instead of wearing them full-on is a good middle ground.

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    3. Interesting indeed! I guess I find cultural appropriation more troubling when it's a privileged group borrowing from an oppressed culture in an inappropriate way, i.e. a white pop star wearing a native headdress.

      I also have German heritage, so I can explain my dirndl love that way if questioned. :)

      I also understand the instinct to "take inspiration" from the original rather than wear the authentic version, but if you're worried about cultural appropriation, is it really less offensive to wear a diluted version of a folk costume rather than the original? One could argue that it would be more of a sign of respect to wear it as originally intended. All interesting questions; you guys know I love this stuff. Thanks for the fascinating discussion!

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    4. I adore the "Peruvian Dirndl" in September 2015 Burdastyle - it's a traditional Dirndl shape, but sewn up with a "latin-isn" striped fabric for the skirt, and a black top, decorated with small metal shapes. Altogether it's a strange cultural hodge podge, but a very appealing one.

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    5. I'm with Gertie on this. It's appropriation if its a dominant culture taking something traditional from an oppressed/disenfranchised group. Otherwise, borrowing from a parallel culture is just that: borrowing. Why wear a folk costume if you're not from that culture/tradition? This is exactly what historical re-enactors and costumers often do. Clothing is integral to culture. Whether or not they're from the historical culture that they've chosen to study, making/wearing the clothing of that culture is one of the ways they seek to gain a deeper understanding of it.
      Of course, wearing a Bavarian/Austrian dirndl is usually done as part of an annual ritual to gain a deeper understanding of beer and schnitzel, and I'm not sure how well that translates into deeper insights into the culture. :-)

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    6. I should amend that last statement to say: Americans wearing a dirndl ...

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    7. I see dressing cross cultural as an expression of individuality as well as honoring another culture. Living in South Africa with 11 native tribes and our white ancestors coming from all corners of the globe, it becomes a minefield to establish folk wear based on culture or tradition only. I can basically wear anything and it cannot be contested as being culturally incorrect.

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    8. I was curious about the idea of the Peruvian dirndl so I looked it up - I think it's very pretty! http://assets.burdastyle.com/pattern_images/assets/000/018/069/125-1509_325x433-ID356911-f9fcc1ad8814c77d0bd44b53e9850964_large.jpg?1441649366

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    9. It also seems that other places in the world are not nearly as sensitive about "appropriation" as Americans are, even when it comes to their own traditional clothing. Every culture is different, so it's good to just ask the people of that culture what they think. I am white, but when I wore traditional clothing in East Africa it was seen as an honorable, complimentary thing, not an insult. It's not always okay and it's not always wrong!

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    10. And it only becomes more interesting! I'm wondering if it is the "borrowing" from another culture that also makes it "costume-y"? I guess it also depends a lot where you wear it - should I be invited to a traditional wedding in Bavaria a dirndl would be to honour the ones getting married, should I wear it shopping here in Sweden it would look rather costume-y. (And then why not wear my "own" folk costume?) I totally agree with Emileigh - nothing is always right and nothing is always wrong! (I'm not thinking so much about "appropriation" here, just my own feelings on the matter.)

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    11. The difference between the dirndl and, say, real Swedish folk costumes, is that the dirndl is NOT the traditional clothing of the Bavarian and Austrian peoples. Upper and middle class ladies adopted a version of peasant girls work clothes in the late 19th century, yes, but they did all kinds of changes to it, making it more genteel and fashionable. Changes have been made continuously since then, and continue today. It was "appropriated" from the commoners over a century ago, and today it have but little resemblance to its origins, being a mere fashion, with rosy, romantic glances to past eras.

      If one want to look at real folk costumes of these areas one should look for 'trachten' (preferably combined with a certain area) - and wearing one of them while shopping would be the equivalent of wearing a Swedish folk costume (which, by the way, are not always the real thing either).

      All that being said, I love dirndls. I would love to make and wear one, but am not quite sure how the apron would work in Sweden - I think I must try it.

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  9. I was lucky enough to live in Vienna for a while several years ago. My host was a lovely woman of French-Austrian aristocratic descent and she once told me that dirndls were the only garment she knew of as equally appropriate in the grocery store as in the ballroom. Not everyone wears them that way, of course, but nobody there would snub you for doing so. I never forgot her words.

    When I returned to Chicago, I brought a traditional dirndl--not as posh or updated as the designer dirndls you've got here, but still made with colorful fabrics and looking pretty nice in the cleavage area. It's too nice and, honestly, practical to keep for Oktober- and Maifests. I might be the only 30-year-old wearing a dirndl to a grocery store, but I feel like I'm doing my host proud.

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  10. The style is cute, but it feels unwearable to me as a heavier, busty woman. I don't need that much attention to my bust / cleavage on a daily basis, and the ruffles and frills that look cute on younger, more slender women feel like they'd be a LOT on me. If you can make it work for you, cool, but I have a hard time imagining the style scaling up well.

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  11. I wear my dirndl all the time here in Eastern Ontario. I usually make the Folkwear version. But I've made Burda ones with sleeves too. I never wear an apron. I make the blouses from Folkwear too. Just simple calicoes and white cotton for the blouse. I get a compliment almost every time I wear it. I even made a maternity one (for those who think bigger women can't wear them. That one I made open on the side so I could embroider the front. I went up to a G when I was pregnant.

    The one Folkwear version makes a very nice every day dirndl. With it's higher top edge and the higher neck blouse cleavage doesn't have to jump out and say 'hello'. Sorry, I can't seem to find a picture to show you right now. http://www.folkwear.com/123.html

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  12. have a look at these for inspiration, just beautiful: http://nohnee.com/phone/dirndl%2c-tracht.html

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  13. I have a traditional dirndl that I've worn out and about many times without any funny looks from people. Granted, it has a higher neckline and slightly more subdued print thank some that I've seen. I think the "wearability" depends on the fabrics and colours/prints that you pick. You might get more gawking if you were to wear a silk dirndl with a brightly contrasting apron. In the end, it's really about your confidence as you wear it. If you feel that you look great, you will look great!

    P.S. Thank you for all these dirndl posts. I've been wanting to sew one for a while, and you've inspired me to make a custom dirndl with eidelweiss embroidery to wear to Oktoberfest!

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  14. See, I think in a more subdued print or color, and worn sans apron, a dirndl can work wonderfully as an everyday dress worn like a jumper over a button-front shirt or any blouse. In fact, that's what I plan on doing with the dirndl I'm working on now. It's going to be solid black suit-weight linen. A low-cut version with bust gussets, but any blouse I wear with it will be totally opaque. And it'll look great with a cardigan or wool tweed jacket over top. A fancier one may be in my future, too, but I'm really drawn to all the plain wool and cotton ones I've seen. They really are just jumpers, albeit with a specific style of bodice. It's the apron and all the froofy trims that really push a dirndl over the edge of "everyday" and into "special occasion" for me. The plainer the fabric, the darker the color, the fewer embellishments, the easier it will be to transition a dirndl into everyday wear, as well as wear it at your local Oktoberfest celebration. Unless I'm going to Oktoberfest, there's no need for an apron. But I'm thinking black gingham would be super cute with a plain black dirndl.

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  15. National and regional costume is the one thing I have not been able to pull off adequately in a day to day setting. I wear almost exclusively 1950's vintage (down to the correct underthings), I've worn a full length Victorian walking gown to work, I wear feathered hats and gloves every day no matter where I go. I. Wear. Wigs. In short, I am essentially wearing something costume-y every single day of my life. The most negative comment I've ever got is "it's so nice to see a woman in a dress, that's so rare these days". But regional costume? I have never been able to pull it off without comment, at least not outside the region the dress originates from. Kimono in Japan? No problem! Kimono in the Netherlands? Hella problem. Dirndl in Austria? Hey, you look great. Dirndl in London? It's June, not October, you strange girl.

    That said, I have never cared. I will never care. The reaction is the result of social construct, not of anything actually objectively, verifiably, physically or morally bad. Except that an obi makes sitting in a western-style chair really difficult.

    By the way, in reaction to the matter of cultural appropriation, I think there's a difference between homage vs exploitation. As long as you aren't taking ownership of the style or profiting from the style in the sense that you're saying you know it better and have more of a right to it than someone else, meh, go for it.

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  16. I made a dirndl to wear for our wedding anniversary this July - my husband LOVES dirndl. I didn't make an apron (I completely agree about the non-wearability outside Oktoberfest, which I don't attend).

    So, I've worn it to church, to dinner, and to his birthday party - got raves from everyone.

    It's from the folkwear pattern, fwiw.

    I've also made just the vest/blouse combo, to wear with my regular skirts. This looks a bit fairytale, but I'm fine with that. And hello, fitted vests are really flattering!!!!

    Link if you want to see it: https://hearthroses.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/birthday-present/

    I used the folkwear pattern. The denim vest didn't need boning, the lightweight silk *did*. I've got too much on top, it completely crumpled without the support. FWIW you can put a zip in the side and not mess with the front closure if you're making the dress with the lacings - I learned this the hard way, after I finished it. Not as accurate, but much easier to deal with.

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  17. I very rarely wear my dirndls in the UK but I think that's a culture thing. I do wear them for specific events but I usually just wear them when visiting Austria

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  18. as an austrian girl i guess the biggest reason for not-wearing-a-dirndl-everyday is: it is not very comfortable! its tight and you always have so stay upright - otherwise the dress will crack :-)) so: everday jeans and shirt - special occasions: dirndl! greetings from vienna

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  19. I think there comes a point where you can adapt and change it so much that the original inspiration becomes hard to distinguish. This isn't necessarily a problem, but if you love dirndls then you probably don't want to loose those qualities such as the under blouse and trim, for example. I think finding a way to hint at the more unique aspects is key

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    1. It's almost like a philosophical question: when have you changed it so much that it stops being a dirndle and is just a dress?

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  20. I think there comes a point where you can adapt and change it so much that the original inspiration becomes hard to distinguish. This isn't necessarily a problem, but if you love dirndls then you probably don't want to loose those qualities such as the under blouse and trim, for example. I think finding a way to hint at the more unique aspects is key

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  21. To be honest, none of the alternatives read "dirndl" and I suppose I agree with the above poster Dirndl skirts have been around forever, after all, and I never associate them with the original. I do think it's the blouse and the very very low neckline on the corset. If all things, ruffles and braids, type of fabric design, corset and skirt, stay pretty much the same, but if the corset neckline was raised a bit and if one wore a simple white tee-shirt underneath, I think you could achieve a dirndl look that isn't over the top.

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  22. I live in the Midwest. Most people around here have no concept of what a dirndl is. I have a few and I wear them sometimes to church. I can't tell you how nicely people treat me when I wear a dirndl. I get more compliments when I wear one than anything else I wear. I do have a unique sense of style, so maybe people just aren't surprised to see me wear something different. But I think dirndls are classy and timeless. I think you can definitely pull a dirndl off on a regular basis if you wear it to dressy events and you have the right personality. If you feel confident you can wear anything.

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    1. I love this! I think it's awesome that you wow the locals in your dirndl : )

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  23. Hi :) I thought you'd like this if you haven't seen it already: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/germany-oktoberfest-dirndl-fashion/406294/

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  24. I think I'd wear the one in the far right of the shop window picture though I would probably amend the ruffles on the blouse to a straight forward cuff. In fact it gives me an idea.... xXx

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  25. Hi, I felt like finally someone from Bavaria should add some insights to this. I don't feel like a Dirndl is a real everyday outfit. Sure you can see people in Dirndl out and about, but that is quite rare (might be different in more touristic towns). However, Dirndl do have their place in our culture. It's absolutely common to have waitresses in german restaurants wear Dirndl. Then obviously women in the "Blasmusik", i.e. german folk music, wear Dirndl. Last, but not least Dirndl have become really fashionable for all kinds of festivities (Oktoberfest, but also weddings, any big festivity organized by villages, towns, etc.). The nice thing is that a Dirndl looks good on EVERY woman and that there are so many different styles. There even are more and more german seamstresses sewing their own Dirndl (e.g. http://www.jolijou.com/2015/07/poppy-go-lucky-dirndl/). Last, but not least I have to say a little bit about Lederhosen. If you ask me, there seriously isn't any other garment as sexy as a well fitting Lederhosen ;) A well dressed man in Lederhosen and a gingham shirt does look really good and there is no point in judging all Lederhosen-wearers by a bunch of drunk boys. Of course, there are these and if you ever happen to come to Munich during Oktoberfest you'll get to see too many of them. However, during Oktoberfest you might also recognize that a Dirndl doesn't always mean that the woman inside behaves very sophisticated either. One or more Maß (1 liter) of beer can make both Dirndl and Lederhosen wearers quite ugly...

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  26. Have you ever read "The Party Dress" by Mary Adams? She has a dress in there that was (I think) made for Amy Sideris that sort of hints at an apron. It may also be made from aprons, which I realize makes little sense until you see it. That's an inspiring book and give you ideas for this genre and beyond.

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  27. I'm loving your posts about Dirndls! I think many cultures' folk-wear is so beautiful and feminine. Similarly, many retro styles share this attribute (that's why I like you're patterns so well!). Not to gripe, but I feel a little sad that soft, feminine styles are not as popular as I would like! I'm from the Midwest and, if I were to regularly wear a dress any place except church, people would think I was a) going to a wedding b) going to a funeral c) converting to an ultra-conservative religion! Thanks for "bringing the fashion", Gertie!

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  28. I'm loving your posts about Dirndls! I think many cultures' folk-wear is so beautiful and feminine. Similarly, many retro styles share this attribute (that's why I like you're patterns so well!). Not to gripe, but I feel a little sad that soft, feminine styles are not as popular as I would like! I'm from the Midwest and, if I were to regularly wear a dress any place except church, people would think I was a) going to a wedding b) going to a funeral c) converting to an ultra-conservative religion! Thanks for "bringing the fashion", Gertie!

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  30. Dear Gertie - I love that you have become so deeply obsessed with dirndl. When I first moved to München I had the same experience (less deeply though, I didn't sew yet). I bought a dirndl convincing myself that I could wear it for everyday events and I have found that I feel too formal in it. Like another commenter mentioned - it's too tight and upright! It feels like a special event outfit! Mine is not super expensive, it's a modern, pink and purple knee length one which sits perfectly in the middle between tradition and trampy, but I haven't managed to answer your question yet.

    Luckily this year I am going to Oktoberfest so it will at least get one airing : )

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  31. You can wear your Dirndl without a blouse (if the cleavage is not to low). People in Austria, who still wear their Dirndl on a everyday basis do that on hot summer days.
    But you can't wear "real" Dirndl without the apron. They are designed to be worn with an apron: they are "gestiftelt" (which is a way of gathering, done by hand) in the back and there are pleats in the front (under the apron, to remove bulk). Dirndl are closed with buttons (on the bodice) and have just one tiny snap on the front opening of the skirt. So if you are wearing your Dirndl with an apron, you do not have too much bulk. But if you wear it without apron, it is kind of open, because the closure is not designed to be worn without an apron.
    Of course with the touristy Dirndl that have a zipper you won't have this problem. But then, when you wear it without an apron it is just another dress. I think the key piece of the Dirndl is an apron.

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  32. Dirndls are darling, flirty, feminine and the examples you've shown have great detail to appreciate from a sewing perspective. But I feel they are folk costumes and as such should be relegated to the events where they are traditionally worn and in the places they are traditionally found. Like the kimono/geisha comparison, I don't see them working for nightlife, my work day or just standing at the sink here in in Smalltown, USA. Because of that I would not waste my precious sewing time on them other than if I needed a costume and I haven't needed one of those in a long time. We have a dear friend of many years from Austria who has a magnificent Christmas party each year. That is the only time she wears a dirndl here in the US. It,s lovely. It's her native costume and like many of us at the holidays she brings out the traditions of her culture. That I get. Me and my friends and family wearing dirndls? Sorry, it's a laughable scene.

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  33. I concur with Kleiderschmiede about the apron but in my, as some would say, misguided fashion youth I found a terrific dirndl at a second hand clothing store. It was in my favorite color purple and I wore it on numerous occasions to great acclaim. This was in the late 70'

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  34. Sorry got cut off. If you love it, make wear it and bask in the compliments you will receive. On the same day I bought a raccoon coat which I still have and wear. Go DRIN

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  35. I think the idea of "wearability" can end up being another box that we put style into. What makes something wearable? Is it that it resonates with the majority of your immediate society? To me, I don't want that to ever be why I make my style choices. I've loved your series on Dirndls; there's no much that appeals to me, especially the full skirt and the great pattern mixing. I think you would ROCK THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of a dirndl on the every-day (imagining a dirndl with your purple hair of yore makes me swoon with delight), but that's not what matters. If you love it....love it, wear it, own it.

    (At least, this is what I tell myself every morning as I make 'wackadoo' style choices, ha!)

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    1. This is such a great point. It would certainly be a shame if everyone only wore things that were deemed "wearable" by their community.

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  36. This is a rather old picture of me wearing a dirndl in the "real world". I think the lack of an apron and substituting a sweater for the traditional blouse make it a bit less costume-y

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/garment_thread/4214258510/in/album-72157622792027067/

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  37. well, as an austrian wearing dirndl on an everyday basis (i am the personal assistant of a ceo of a media company!), changing wioth super modern fashion, i would like to state a few points:
    a) dirndl is the fashionized version of the Tracht, the original folk costume. so a dirndl is already modified. just go on and do, what you like to do with it. why not wear it with a t-shirt or a tirtle-neck?
    b) comfortable - why not enjoy a dress that keeps you upright? that is what we are made for, therefore we have a spine ans muscles. not for slouching around.
    c) the nazi - history. nazis abused Heimat, abused folk songs, abused the dirndl, the german sheperd and so many other beautiful things. nobody says "i cannot do/wear this because ku klux clan did..." or "because the vichy-régime did".... we live in 2015. why still blame germany/austria for something that happened a generation ago?
    caterina

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    1. Thank you for this. The United States is guilty of atrocities in our own country as well, and we seem to have conveniently forgotten all about them. But apparently Germany is still fair game. At least for those who aren't still stuck on Communists or Muslims as the enemy and the Bad People Who are Against Everything America Stands For. Reclaim the dirndl, dangit. It's a dress. Not a flag bearing a swastika.

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  38. being a slightly over 50 year old, I lived in these skirts in high school. No apron-just full gathered skirts. I added button downs as the shirt of choice-it was the preppy '80's. I made many in different fabrications-one was a gorgeous lilac taffeta with morning glories I embroider all around the hem. Another was black wooly type material-can't remember what-with a gorgeous white silk blouse. I think the apron is the divider between costume and wearable skirt. I also think they are a silhouette for a defined waist. Too short a skirt and no waist makes the skirt wider than it is long. I loved these skirts when I could wear them.

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  39. As lovely as they are dirndl's are costumes. Weddings, Oktoberfest, Coachella, around the house, picnics, apple picking, festivals etc - yes. Most work settings? Nooooo. And on a woman my age? NO to anything other than a wedding or Oktoberfest.

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    1. P.S. - lederhosen are hiking shorts and when my husband and I were in the German Alps we saw several men wearing them, the traditional versions are made from suede. In that context they make perfect sense.

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  40. The CocoVera one, without the apron, looks very '50's retro . . . that could be worn for a tea or garden party, here-and-now. Even by me, who am not really either young or thin.
    In America, I'd wear a dirndl with all folk-costume bits (apron, wreath, etc) to Oktoberfest or RenFaire. My husband might wear lederhosen (the knee-breeches style, not the shorts) to either event, too. Except that we worked for several years at a couple of RenFaires, and did more serious historical re-enactment, and have lots of 16th-century costume already . . . . The problem is, we don't have a "folk costume" in America; so many people tried to leave that behind when they immigrated.
    I do wear Indian-style embroidered tunics (with jeans, not with the salwar and veil), and don't feel particularly "costumed," but that could be because I was in school in the late 60's and 70's, and those tunics were the height of fashion for a while. Only, then, it may have been "cultural appropriation" in the negative sense (altho I'd never heard the phrase) because it was hippies "exploring Eastern religions" (many of them not interested in whole-hearted conversion, but in picking the appealing bits) who made the tunics popular, and you sometimes got the feeling that the tunic and prayer beads WERE the religion.
    What I WOULD buy and wear, happily, is the green wool jacket in your first dirndl post - with a loden-green felt fedora. LOVE that jacket, and it isn't nearly so costume-y; it would go beautifully with jeans, or a winter skirt.

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    1. OK, I went and looked at Gertie's Pinterest board, and . . . saw the AfroDirndl. Beautiful.
      I've seen a lot of African-inspired prints that I really liked, but hesitated to wear because I'm an upper-middle-class white woman, with a mother who grew up UPPER class in pre-WWII Arkansas, with a black cook and gardener (whom she still occasionally refers to as a "boy" altho he wasn't, when he worked for my grandparents), and I guess I was concerned about cultural appropriation, or something similar. Maybe a kente-cloth print made into a full skirt, with a square-necked, rather fitted waistcoat in a coordinating sold color. Because something about the Afro-Dirndl really speaks to me.

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  41. Gertie--speaking also as one with German ancestry--I have struggled with the wearability issue myself. I think now I am ready to just make one and wear it whenever I feel like. At my age, (58), I'm thinking the more conservative style and fabrication are the way to go. I have Burda patterns and a book of dirndl patterns from a different German publisher and even a book of Bavarian knitting patterns that coordinate with dirndl and lederhosen. I agree with a previous commenter--the apron is a must. It covers a big gap in the front.

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  42. GERTIE!!! I LOVE YOU.

    Finally!

    I live in Austria and now I have made my second dirndl - I wear them often to parties here. "Tracht" parties are very much the flavor of the day here and let me tell you - nothing makes you look better than a dirndl! It hides the whole bottom half, gives a tiny waist and gives " the girls" a lift like nothing else.

    I know that other sewing blogs have openly bashed Burda's yearly Dirndl isue - but so many people wear them in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that I am pretty sure the Dirndl issue is the best selling issue here. And getting a pretty or serviceable (if you work in hospitality this is often your work uniform) can be very expensive. So many women choose to sew their own - in fact I am pretty sure it is the gateway garment here for people starting to sew. Heck - there is even a sewing magaine called "Dirndlrevue" that has ONLY dirndl and tracht patterns. https://www.stoffcorner.com/shop-artikel/303615002014/dirndlrevue-2014

    Anyway lots of luck form Vorarlberg (note: in the Bregenzerwald region the dress is a "Juppe" not a dirndl.)

    Oh one more note: When wearing the apron you have to pay attention to wear you tie the knot!

    A knot on the left front- you are single and looking for love
    A knot on the right front- you are taken (verliebt, verlobt oder verheiratet) in love, engaged or married
    A knot in the middle front - a virgin (I have never seen this)
    A knot in the middle of the back - a waitress or a widow

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  43. GERTIE!!! I LOVE YOU.

    Finally!

    I live in Austria and now I have made my second dirndl - I wear them often to parties here. "Tracht" parties are very much the flavor of the day here and let me tell you - nothing makes you look better than a dirndl! It hides the whole bottom half, gives a tiny waist and gives " the girls" a lift like nothing else.

    I know that other sewing blogs have openly bashed Burda's yearly Dirndl isue - but so many people wear them in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that I am pretty sure the Dirndl issue is the best selling issue here. And getting a pretty or serviceable (if you work in hospitality this is often your work uniform) can be very expensive. So many women choose to sew their own - in fact I am pretty sure it is the gateway garment here for people starting to sew. Heck - there is even a sewing magaine called "Dirndlrevue" that has ONLY dirndl and tracht patterns. https://www.stoffcorner.com/shop-artikel/303615002014/dirndlrevue-2014

    Anyway lots of luck form Vorarlberg (note: in the Bregenzerwald region the dress is a "Juppe" not a dirndl.)

    Oh one more note: When wearing the apron you have to pay attention to wear you tie the knot!

    A knot on the left front- you are single and looking for love
    A knot on the right front- you are taken (verliebt, verlobt oder verheiratet) in love, engaged or married
    A knot in the middle front - a virgin (I have never seen this)
    A knot in the middle of the back - a waitress or a widow

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  44. I am of German descent and have always loved dirndls as well as bunads, which represent the Norwegian portion of my heritage. Not as into Irish folk dress, which is odd as I'm more that than anything! Had been browsing a few eBay and etsy sellers who carry trachten on and off for a year or so when your first dirndl-related post popped up, at which point I became obsessed. So, I've recently purchased a silk dirndl/trachten dress with matching apron and a lovely embroidered dirndl for which I will need to get a blouse and apron.

    I'm almost 46, but in a "creative" field, so I get away with a lot of outfits that would violate the dress code at other offices. In an age when people give one the side eye merely for wearing a nice dress to dinner or the theater rather than showing up in jeans or yoga pants, I'm going to get a few snide remarks anyway, so I might as well have fun with my clothes!

    I'm also a lifelong retro fan and novice sewist. Thanks for these posts and your blog, books, and fabric.

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  45. I think dirndls are cute and fun dresses although I would always feel odd to wear it having the apron. I think removing the apron or using a cloth that can “hide” the apron would be a good way so women can wear it more, rather than in cosplays or costume parties!

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  46. There is a difference between cultural expression and self expression. I am part Indian, I have no issue with people of different cultures wearing indian clothing. The thing about 50s clothing is that it was part of a very internationalist times. I have pictures of my mother wearing 50s skirts in far flung corners of the Middle East! She liked to wear her traditional clothing but it was always for events rather than day to day. I think I would love to wear a dirndle, and I would love to see what people have to say about it!

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  47. What a great post! NOH NEE Dirndls are my favorite designs coming out of Germany right now, I wish I had one of my own. I wear my dirndl all the time here in the US and I do get some funny looks, but not as many as I used to. Especially when I wear the ones that I design to have a belt instead of an apron. I also think the lace-up corset style bodice is one of the details that make it more noticeable as not "every day" clothing. I have been designing and creating dirndls for my line http://raredirndl.com for almost 6 years now and every year more and more people are looking to wear dirndls for more than just Oktoberfest here in the states and it makes my heart smile!! Thanks again for this great post. I'm going to share with with the Rare Dirndl community on FB!

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  48. I visited Munich about two years ago, and was fascinated by all the dirndls displayed in all the boutique windows, when the only women who seemed to be wearing them worked in the touristy places. Until we saw all the young ladies dressed up for a night on the town. That's when all the dirndls came out!

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  49. I am coming late to this conversation, having read all the posts and comments so far (wow). I wanted to add a few notes: The similar silhouette to 50’s dresses is no coincidence, because the “New Look” borrowed heavily from this garment style, especially with the adaption of the shirred white bustline (shelf bust). Some of the best examples are the dress adaptions made by “Lanz Originals” in California starting in the late 40’s. Their use of the traditional dirndl fabrics, trims and silhouette was a natural for junior dresses worn during the 50’s, however the dirndl itself was modified to have a higher neckline like a jumper, or even a Victorian high neckline, and sleeves were often added. In making that very full skirt, consider using a pleating machine designed for smocking (it will create ‘cartridge’ pleating for the waistline). It is interesting to me that the signature style worn by Ray Eames throughout her career was a dark toned dirndl inspired ‘jumper’ worn with a crisp white blouse in a timeless way.

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  50. I'm jumping in here rather late...but I'm so happy to have found your blog and this particular series on Dirndl! I lived in Germany for a time in the late 90s, and didn't buy a dirndl. Of course, I didn't plan to move to back here to the US, so there wasn't a sense of urgency. Silly me. Now here I am almost twenty years later and I'm thinking of sewing my own custom dirndl. I have two from Austria (via a good friend), both starting to show their age, though I still wear them as often as possible. I have the Folkwear 123 pattern, and am finding some of the instructions inscrutable. Luckily youtube exists and there are some decent video tutorials on there. Wish me luck--and if I manage to succeed in making my dirndl I'll link a photo. Ps, I plan on making the rosenruche trim for the neckline.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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