WTF Is A … Dirndl?

You’ve heard of the mini and the maxi, but have you ever heard of the dirndl?

Say it with me: dirn (rhymes with burn), dull. Fun to say out loud, right?

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A dirndl is a specific style of skirt that re-popularized in the ’50s but originates from the traditional Austrian garb. Back in the 1800s when dirndls first appeared, they were worn by servant girls and were always plain; color and material dependent on season. It wasn’t until the end of the 1800s that the dirndl (worn typically with a set of lederhosen) was adopted into high fashion.

An important distinction: The main element of a dirndl is that it’s actually a two-piece dress (the skirt is one of those parts). Traditional dirndls also have a special bra and an apron (called a Leiber). You probably remember this look from Halloween costumes, storybooks, or that weird outfit that your best friend from college brought to Oktoberfest. Or The Sound of Music.

But our focal point, today, is on the skirt: a tight waist and a full, wide, circular bottom.

Today’s dirndls (and yes, this type of skirt still exists), typically come apron-less. Non-Party City-costume dirndl skirts of recent come in bright colors and all the patterns you could ever imagine, and often times with a matching crop top or bralette. We’ve seen them at luxury shows like Dolce & Gabbana and more contemporary brands like Stella Jean. Other brands tack on a dirndl style skirt to a dress, as seen here, in this amazingly vibrant red summer frock. (You can see that from the waistline down it’s all dirndl—all the time.)

Added fun fact: When wearing a more traditional style dirndl that has a bow, be wary of how you knot yourself. The way the bow is tied has major significance: on the right means you’re married/in a relationship, on the left means you’re single, and at the back indicates you’re a widow or a waitress. Hmm. I guess it’s sort of like an old-school Facebook Status update?

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