Many of our guests staying at the ADLER Resorts & Lodges in the Dolomites find the attire worn by our female reception and restaurant team both curious and fascinating.
The name of this dress is equally curious: Dirndl. It’s a Tyrolean folk costume, and despite having been around for centuries, it never grows old.
“Not only does the Dirndl represent the Alpine world and tradition – with its timeless elegance, it also embodies ADLER’s style to perfection,” explains Christine Karabacher, hospitality manager. The staff’s work attire at ADLER DOLOMITI changes every year, and she’s responsible for choosing the new designs and fabrics. “It’s definitely an original and impressive garment, but it’s also quite versatile, practical and hard-wearing. Besides, it started out as a peasants’ work outfit.”
So, let’s trace back the origins of this peculiar garment…
History of the Dirndl
During the 19th century, the Dirndl – which simply meant “girl” in the local German dialect – was mostly worn by female farmers and maids working on farms. By then, it was already widespread in Bavaria and Austria, as well as in South Tyrol, which is nowadays Italy’s northernmost region. Originally, the Dirndl was a very simple, drab cotton garment. The apron, which today features as a stylish piece designed to add a dash of colour, was more often than not made from old bed sheets. At the beginning of the 20th century, when the mountains became summer resorts for the wealthy class from the cities, the Dirndl made its triumphant way into the wardrobe of women and girls from the aristocracy, who wore it both as a party dress at rural high society events and as urban attire. As you may expect, their Dirndls were far more ornate and expensive than the humble work outfit they had evolved from: made from the finest fabrics, and embellished with lace, ribbons and embroidery, they were far beyond the financial means of most. It was only when industrialisation started making its mark that production became cheaper, leading to the Dirndl reaching a broader population base. It became a hit among growing numbers of women, who started sporting it on Sundays, feast days and special occasions such as festivals and more.
The secret to an unwavering success
Despite its origins and exquisitely traditional flair, the Dirndl continues to evolve with the times. Over the last few years, it has been gaining momentum especially with the young generation. This trend has been boosted by the Oktoberfest, where sporting an Alpine look has become a must even for foreign tourists, and you can also see plenty of girls wearing a Dirndl – often in more flashy styles than tradition would have it – at hut parties, summer festivals and other such events. With an endless choice of styles now available, ranging from the most traditional versions to bold-coloured mini Dirndls and all the way up to haute couture pieces designed for the most prestigious occasion, there is something for every taste.
If you are entertaining the idea of buying a Dirndl, there are several boutiques and shops in the area that specialise in traditional fashion or include traditional clothing in their range.