Yesterday my "Tante" and I went into downtown Munich to go Dirndl-shopping.
What's a dirndl, you may ask. Originally, the word "Dirn" referred to a young girl, but eventually "Dirndl" became the name of the traditional dress worn by girls in the Alps, Southern Germany and Austria. The dress traditionally consists of a blouse, bodice, skirt and apron. How the apron is tied has important symbolism: tied on the front on the wearer's right means she is "taken" (married or engaged), whereas tied on the left means she's available. Somewhere I heard that when tied on the back, the wearer is widowed -- so make sure you don't get this important fashion detail wrong!
My eldest daughter went to Oktoberfest with my sister's family last year when she visited Munich. This October, I dug out my old dirnlds for our Alaskan Oktoberfest (see photos here), and Eldest had so much fun wearing my old dirndl that she asked me to bring her back a dirndl from this Germany trip. But not one that modestly buttons way up to the collar -- no, siree! Rather, Eldest wants a traditional dirndl that displays the goods, where tying the apron strings on the left will bring the desired results!
A genuine dirndl can be pricey. My sister had found a lovely dirndl at a second-hand store called "Resales", and that's where my Tante and I went on my last day in Munich. And we did find a lovely silk dirndl for Eldest (new, but reduced to 79 Euros).
Then we started looking for a dirndl for me! First I tried on some dresses that made me look like a good matronly German Hausfrau! But then we did find a used dirnld for 19 Euros that made even me look sexy -- all I need now is a proper bra to let this dirndl shine in its full glory -- I'm sure the bra will cost more than the dirndl!
Lastly I need to tell you a German wartime story: My grandmother, who fled from the Russians invading Berlin with 5 small children, did manage to bring along her sewing machine. After the war, she took apart a Nazi flag (red background, white circle and black swastika), and sewed dirndl for her 3 girls from the material!