Here we look at the ever-popular dirndl, the various styles of dirndls available, and how its popularity has persisted until today.
The Bavarian Dress of Choice
When in an Oktoberfest beer tent, you’ll see just about every woman decked out in the traditional dirndl. The dirndl is a stylish dress originally inspired by the everyday clothes of female farm hands. They were first made in the 19th century and worn by German or Austrian women to achieve a romantic, rustic look during summer vacations in the country.
Throughout the history of Oktoberfest, the public has usually dressed according to contemporary fashion. In the first Oktoberfest in 1810, die Damen showed off their Empire-style French frocks. In the 1990s, the women wore jeans. German ethnologist Frau Egger believes the current trend of wearing dirndls began about the year 2000.
The Oktoberfest is like a giant catwalk for ladies in Dirndls
Endless Variations for Modern Dirndls
The beauty of modern dirndls is that the classic form with a tight bodice, a full skirt and an apron is always the same and is immediately recognisable. But there are endless personal variations on the theme. A dirndl can look traditional or modern, the neckline can be round or square, higher or lower.
Hemlines can go up or down, blouses can flaunt or flatter cleavage and sleeves are either puffed or straight. Colours can either be traditional with black, red or pine green, or trendy with colours such as kiwi, fuchsia, lilac or even gold or silver.
Made of velvet, cotton or silk, the dirndl is the most elegant thing to the Oktoberfest. Conservative commentators deride over-the-top dirndls such as Cora Schumacher’s black and red and skull-covered dirndl, or a young girl’s, leopard skin dirndl, or blue and white, Bavarian-flag dirndl with a large Michael Jackson figure on the front apron.
Although more open-minded commentators give these progressive dirndls the thumbs-up as harmless fun. In recent years, lighter fabrics, brighter colours and more reasonable prices have helped the dirndl become popular with today’s young women.
Renewed Interest in Dirndls and Oktoberfest
The recent dirndl boom goes hand in hand with the renewed interest in Oktoberfest itself. About 20 years ago, many Munich locals condemned the event as a ‘festival for jerks.’ But more than 200 years after the first Oktoberfest, it’s more popular than ever. Oktoberfest is now a place for families and youths to enjoy.
The rich and famous go there to see and be seen. Banks and software companies reserve seats for their employees. Celebrities, businesswomen and executives and engineers’ wives all show off their dirndls. Munich shops offer dirndls year-round for as little as €50 and can be bought cheap on eBay.
It is incredible to think that the traditional fashion trends that were made back when Oktoberfest began are still going. Dirndls are still ‘in’ in a big way!
Get your Dirndl on this year with our premium Oktoberfest tours.