If you have ever been to any Oktoberfest-themed party, this typical garment will not be new to you. The Dirndl is a traditional dress from the southern parts of Germany. Oftentimes, foreigners mistake it as a national garment even though it is only prevalent regionally. Apart from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in Germany, the Dirndl is also a common sight in other Alpine regions in Austria.

Today, the term “Dirndl” refers to a dress with a narrow, often deep rectangular or round cut-out bodice, a wide and high-cut skirt whose length changes at the waist depending on current fashion trends, and an apron. The male counterpart to the Dirndl are Lederhosen (leather breeches).

Be Considerate With The Loop

The loop of the apron which is worn above the skirt indicates the family status of the woman. If the loop is bound on the right side, the woman is in a relationship, engaged or married. In contrast, a loop on the left means that she is still available. If the dress has the loop in the front, the woman is still a virgin whereas a loop at the back means that she is a widow.

What Does The Name “Dirndl” Mean?

Dirndl is a diminutive of Dirn, the Bavarian-Austrian variant of standard German “Dirne”, which simply means “young girl”. Until about the middle of last century, Dirn was also the most common German term for a person working in agriculture. Thus, the typical garments for girls went by the name of “Dirndlgewand”. Today, the term is often shortened to Dirndl.

From Servant Uniform To Mainstream Phenomenon

In the late 1800s, the Dirndl evolved from its initial form as a servants uniform to an urban fashion phenomenon as the upper class from the cities started using it as a summer dress.

In the difficult economic period after the First World War, the Dirndl became a hit with the general society. At that time, it was a cheap alternative to the often expensive and elaborately crafted historical women’s costumes. Today it is worn by girls and women of all ages and classes on weekends or for special occasions such as weddings or festivals like Oktoberfest.


Find more traditional costumes from Germany here.

Go to other interesting issues on Germany: Food & Drinks, Events

german-dirndl-dress-heidis-closet-02 by Alessandra Nölting, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0