A Brief Dirndl History
Much more than provincial wear
Actually, the typical dirndl dress originally dates back to simple work wear worn by rural women in southern Germany's Alpine country. Later, it was the nobility and the urban middle-class that promoted the dirndl and in the mid-19th century, transformed a simple, mainly sleeveless dress plus shirt and apron into an exciting feminine garment with a close-fitting bodice, generally with a generous neckline and fashionable embellishments.
Most of the clichés of traditional clothing focus on feelings toward homeland, custom and tradition. However, what is certain is that for many centuries, the word "Tracht" (traditional clothing) simply referred to the clothing "which was worn." What is often forgotten is that for the rural population, fashion generally followed the trends of the nobility and the cities.
For example, in the mid-19th century during times of political restoration in Bavaria and Austria, when the bourgeoisie idealized rural life, numerous Alpine associations emerged in the cities that created a romantic understanding of the homeland - and, in the course of this, the dirndl was prettified in accordance with the times. What stands out is that from the beginning, the dirndl acquired more importance in Austria than in Bavaria. In Austria, it was always considered "real" traditional clothing that clearly differed in the various regions; in Bavaria, it was part of a "traditional look" and for that reason, not so regionally fixed.
Source: The Atlantic Times (Author: Barbara Kraus)