Dirndl skirts: a consideration

Extremely late-breaking fashion news! Dirndl skirts are hot right now. In fact they were the one thing to be seen in this spring, so I hope you were wearing yours.

Magazines seem to have defined the look as anything full and below the knee, as in this gallery from Elle, which confusingly doesn’t feature any proper dirndl skirts at all, instead highlighting two circle skirts and four pleated numbers. I do like this Reiss one though, which has an interesting asymmetrical pleat arrangement.

The classic dirndl skirt is properly two rectangles of fabric gathered into a waistband, much beloved by home dressmakers because it’s so easy to draft and sew (as in the two very popular tutorials from Gertie and Tilly). I find it hard to wear, even though I’ve seen it look great on other people. Something about all that bulk at the waistband. You might think this skirt is all 1950s glamour and cats-eye sunglasses, but turn your back for a second and the dirndl has a worrying tendency to channel Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. Which is a hard look to pull off without a mountain in the vicinity.

I haven’t seen that many people out and about wearing the dirndl, however much fashion magazines might hype it up. Midi length skirts are definitely still in, but mostly those those horribly cheap polyester chiffon pleated things which used to be strictly for the over 60s, but are now marked up 300% and sold in American Apparel.

I do like the look of a longer skirt, and want to sew some for this autumn (which appears to already have arrived in England). But I think I might opt for pleats rather than the classic dirndl. I loved the Sewaholic Crescent skirt pattern, which controls any potential bulky gathers with a nice smooth waistband, but unfortunately the pattern has mysteriously disappeared in the black hole of my sewing room.

In other delayed fashion update news, according to the Times style magazine  I found discarded on the bus, this beautiful but eye-wateringly expensive piece from Jonathan Saunders was the dress of the season. It’s called the Yvie. I very much approve of dresses having names, so big pat on the back for Jonathan.

It could have been yours for a mere £1,100, although it’s now sold out. Soz. It’s pretty hard to tell what the style lines are because the print obscures them, but it seems to have two waist darts, a pin-tucked yoke panel, and a gently pleated skirt which also features horizontal tucks. You can get a better look on the Harvey Nichols website.

It wouldn’t be difficult to recreate this dress at home for somewhat less than a grand, although the print is what really makes it work. It somehow manages to reference the 50s, 60s, and 70s all at once, while still looking distinctly modern.

I have less problems wearing gathered skirts on dresses than as stand-alone pieces, probably because the matching bodice helps to  smooth the whole line. Still, I do prefer patterns that include a midriff piece above the gathered skirt, like the McCalls 6503 I made earlier this year.
What do you reckon? Are you a dirndl devotee?
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9 thoughts on “Dirndl skirts: a consideration

  1. Chuck July 26, 2012 / 9:50 PM

    Is it weird that I find the Sound of Music picture totally sartorially alluring? I guess the films you watch as a child really stay with you! I like the idea of dirndls in theory but haven’t really seen anyone (successfully) wearing them. The Jonathan Saunders dress is fab but I agree that a lot of it is the print. He gives good print. Would love to see your version of the dress. x

  2. prttynpnk July 16, 2012 / 4:59 PM

    I always ay to myself mid-marhc that THIS IS THE SUMMER OF THE DRESS! I will sandal up and flounce and Yvie is just how I picture my fancy self! I need to dirndl up!

    • yesilikethat July 16, 2012 / 5:07 PM

      It is super cute, I wonder who is buying 1000 pound dresses though… everyone I know is broke! Sadly in London it’s more like the summer of the anorak, it’s still raining like mad here.

  3. gingermakes July 16, 2012 / 2:26 PM

    I’ve never really tried a dirndl skirt, although I guess my Hazel dress has one (and the skirt is my least favorite part of the dress). I really like this dress, though!

    • yesilikethat July 16, 2012 / 5:08 PM

      Ooh yes I love the Hazel dress. I do like a gathered skirt on a dress but am just a bit wary of them looking too costume-y.

    • yesilikethat July 16, 2012 / 5:08 PM

      Short and to the point! I admire your conviction.

    • theperfectnose July 17, 2012 / 12:08 AM

      Wo WordPress crash and my comment disappears -this is why I keep ’em short 😄 (if you find it on dashboard please edit it and this). I’m just not into that style, I’d rather see you in something narrow and fitted like Stylearc’s Heather dress you’ve got the height and build to rock stuff like that. I’d pick that pattern up if this month’s freebie wasn’t such.. total meh-ness… 😄

    • yesilikethat July 17, 2012 / 1:00 PM

      Nice dress! I think you’re right, I’ve reluctantly decided that slim line things suit me better, even though I yearn to make huge frothy ballerina style dresses, they look a bit absurd when you’re nearly 5 ft 10…

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