Tracht is a traditional national costume of a country (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and many others). Most often the word is associated with Austrian and Bavarian costumes, even though many other people and countries have them. A national costume expresses an identity, which usually relates to a geographic area or a period of time in history, but can also indicate social, marital and/or religious status. Trachts often come in two forms: one for every occasion, the other for festival and formal wear. Trachts are usually worn in connection with special events and celebrations, particularly those connected with cultural traditions, heritage, or pride. Costumes worn by professional guilds are also called “Tracht”. While many have fallen into disuse, carpenter journeymen can still be seen wearing their traditional costume while traveling throughout Europe. Here in Kitchener/Waterloo, Trachts are part of our Oktoberfest celebrations.
A dirndl is a type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany and Austria based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants. The dirndl originated as a simplified form of folk costume and consists of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. While appearing to be simple and plain, a properly made modern dirndl may be quite expensive as it is tailored and sometimes cut from costly hand-printed or silk fabrics. The winter style dirndl has heavy, warm skirts and aprons made of thick cotton, linen, velvet or wool, and long sleeves. The colours are usually rich and dark. The summer style is lighter and more frivolous, has short sleeves and is often made of lightweight cotton, silk or satin.
Today, dirndls vary from simple styles to exquisitely crafted, very expensive models. The dirndl is mostly worn in Bavaria and Austria. Although not an everyday dress, many women may wear it at formal occasions and during certain traditional events.