Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Vintage Fashion Dirndls

Fashion Dirndl Dress:

In the 1950’s a dress with gathered skirt called a dirndl became widely popular.  Originating in Europe, this hourglass fashion silhouette emphasized a full skirted, close bodied dress that closely followed in style many regional costumes.  The term is German and began to be used in the 1930's to describe a fitted dress with gathered skirt. Popular fashion influenced by this folkwear, were often made in authentic cottons and challi prints.  They became popular following the rise of Dior's New Look in 1947.

This style got its start during the 1930’s when ‘peasant’ style skirts and blouses became popular fashion items. It's during this time that the term 'dirndl' comes into popular use in the U.S. to describe a gathered skirt on a waistband.  Easy to sew, with a wide variety of textile patterns and embroidery to choose from, peasant looks borrowed from many authentic garments, including Mexico and South American textiles. The New Look with its full skirts was a natural direction for the peasant trend to follow with increasingly wide skirts and corseted style bodices

Two Swiss women, wearing long aprons

Three Latvian women, with extensive hand embroidery

Estonian women, wearing heavy silver necklaces

 Adaptions of this look were especially popular in junior fashions. These styles might include a gathered bodice to imitate the under blouse worn in the regional costumes. While we may use the term ‘shelf bust’ today, at that time, the gathered bustline was originally an inner blouse.  During the 50's this might be as simple as a jumper bodice with white blouse or a low cut bodice with bustline insert.

This easy to sew look caused a trend in home sewing, combining the popular silhouette with easy to sew cottons into well fit, full skirted dress like the many shown below.

In later years, the style would change slightly, reflecting fashion colors, fabrics and prints.  But overall, the mini floral print, blouse insert or bustline, button or front closure and gathered skirt style remained, like this one shown here.  When the dress is authentic and worn in German speaking countries, this is often termed "trachten", refering to the traditional regional garments now worn for special occassions and local events, such as Oktoberfest.

Today these dresses are seen worn in a variety of ways, as shown below.  This is a zipper front version with machine embroidered hem border and front bodice.


TOP Slide: Clockwise from upper left:
Blue Plaid: McCalls 5406
Turquoise Gingham: McCalls 5406
Red Corset: Butterick 9635
Gingham Puff Sleeve: Advance 9432
Bridget Bardot: uncredited photo

SECOND Slide: Clockwise from upper left, excluding patterns listed above
Red Dress and Gingham jumper (2nd edition) Simplicity 1010

Original color plates from: Lands and People, the world in color, 1929

LONG SLEEVE DIRNDL: This is available at Mojave Dry Goods.

SHORT DIRNDL: no longer available for sale

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