A Brief History of the Dirndl

Bavarian Dirndl fashions in Munichphoto by Heather Cowper used under CC BY 2.o

My visit to the German-American Festival opened my eyes to the power of the dirndl.  It is a style that flatters almost every woman. With a close-fitting top and full skirt, the dirndl achieves what a crop top and low rider jeans cannot.  Let’s call it the great figure equalizer.  But where did the dirndl come from?

The dirndl is the female dress of Tracht (traditional national costume of German-speaking countries) and was worn by Alpine peasant women in the 19th century until the 1870’s when the nobility started wearing it, too.  The dirndl is made up of a blouse, bodice, full skirt, and apron.  The style and fabrics changed with the seasons.  For instance, long sleeves and wool dresses worn in winter, and short sleeves and cotton dresses for the summer.

Münchenphoto by Metro Centric used under CC BY 2.o

The word dirndl can refer to a young woman or the dress.

Almdudler Gamstrophyphoto by Christian Lendl used under CC BY 2.o

Watch where you tie your apron strings! In popular culture, a knot on the right means taken while a knot on the left means single.  A knot in the back means widowed.

Deutsche Trachtphoto by Sabrina Setaro used under CC BY 2.o

Want your own dirndl?  Here are some popular stores…


  1. Thank you so much for sharing…I enjoyed reading it and educated myself to a new discovery…wow..I had once owned a dress like that, mother designed it. But I have no idea of the knot…it did not had a knot, good thing! But now I know 🙂