Week 3 – Das Dirndl

What a week we had! We hope that you had fun learning about many German inventions throughout the last six centuries. This week’s topic is German Music and Fashion. Infosheet 3 will take you through classical and modern musicians in Germany, and introduce you to two of Germany’s favourite fashion icons – Heidi Klum and Karl Lagerfeld.

With the Oktoberfest Brisbane  just around the corner, our blogs this week will focus on our favourite German fashion items: the Dirndl and Lederhosen. Every year more and more Oktoberfest Brisbane and Oktoberfest for Teens attendees dress up in their Dirndl and Lederhosen – but where did these items of clothing originate, and how do you wear them properly? That’s what we’re here to tell you all about! Let’s start with the Dirndl…

The female traditional Bavarian outfit, the Dirndl, originated in the 18th century as a servant’s or maid’s dress. The outfit consisted of a blouse, bodice, full-length skirt and apron, which, at this time, was very practical for a woman’s job around the house or farm. The outfit was slightly adjusted for the winter and summer seasons:

  • Winter: long-sleeved blouses made out of heavy cotton, linen or wool, warm skirts and aprons
  • Summer: lightweight cotton, short-sleeved blouses and sleeveless bodices

In the late 1800s, around 1870, these simple dresses, made from practical fabrics, were slowly adopted by the upper classes of society and were transformed into stylish and colourful outfits, generally made from silk, satin, or other expensive fabrics. After a few years, the different regions also adapted the dress by using distinctive colours and/ or styles, and they were now also worn as a symbol of regional pride and tradition.

Today’s Dirndls range from very simple dresses with soft colours, to vibrant colours with intricate designs and embroidery. Whilst the dresses are rarely worn as everyday clothing, many women wear them for cultural or formal events, such as weddings or the Oktoberfest. In recent years, the Dirndl has become more popular among younger women. The Munich Oktoberfest is the perfect place to see the varying styles of today’s Dirndls. The Dirndl is worn by everyone here – from young to old, and from traditional to modern versions.

Now that you know a little bit of the history of the Dirndl, let’s have a look at the different elements of the whole outfit:

1. Das Dirndl (the Dirndl)

The most expensive part of purchasing the whole outfit is usually the Dirndl itself. The choice of Dirndls can be a little overwhelming if you have no idea what you are looking for – they come in vibrant or pastel colours, in simple colour blocks or bright patterns, with short, medium or long skirts and made from different materials. It is completely up to you which style you choose – if you’re like us, you’ll end up with multiple different Dirndls with different lengths and colours (during the day pastel or brightly coloured Dirndls are great, whereas for evening events darker Dirndls are often more popular).

2. Die Schürze (the apron)

Dirndls will (almost) always come with a matching apron, although one way to get more out of your Dirndl is to purchase one or two additional aprons in different colours – the apron can completely transform your outfit. For example, if you have a pastel pink Dirndl, you could get a white, pastel blue and pastel green apron to match – one dress, three different styles!

… but wait, there’s more! How you wear your apron sends a message to the world:

  • Bow on the right = Taken
  • Bow on the left = Single
  • Bow at the back = Widow or Waitress

3. Die Bluse (the blouse)

There are almost as many styles of blouses as there are Dirndls! Dirndl blouses are cropped and are generally white, although black blouses have also become increasingly popular. They can have puffed sleeves, be off the shoulder, and be long or short sleeved. They can be very plain, made out of lace, cotton or silk, have ruffles, sequins… you name it, they probably have it!

4. Accessories

Once you have your Dirndl, apron and blouse sorted, it’s time to accessorise (although this is not mandatory)! You can finish off your outfit with a heart-shaped purse (which often have cute messages written on them), a charm necklace, and a braided hairdo (which can be finished off with some flowers). Finally, when it comes to your shoes, think of the occasion – whilst your super cute high heels may match your Dirndl perfectly, we do not recommend wearing these to the Oktoberfest. With hours of dancing ahead, heels are definitely not practical. Ballerina flats are very popular, however, the main thing is that you are comfortable to dance the night away!

Congratulations! You are now ready for Oktoberfest!

Stay tuned for our next blog on the history and how to wear the Lederhosen.

Images and information retrieved from:





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