Many people associate Bavaria with Germany and hence a dirndl. Despite I am not from Bavaria, I bought one and I regret it. Read my wearing a dirndl in America story for entertainment.
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Party Chat on Dirndls
The Fairbanks community is very welcoming. When someone new arrives, the neighbors invite the newcomers to their next party. At these parties, the guests are excited to see a new face and try immediately to find out where you came from. When you tell them that you immigrated from Germany to Alaska, their next question will be
“Then why don’t you wear a dirndl?”
I always explained that in the area I come from, nobody wears dirndls. I also told them that dirndls are worn in the Alpine regions of Germany, Austria, Italy (South Tyrol), and in Switzerland, but not allover Germany. More on the origin of dirndls and bunads.
Peer-Pressure in Fashion and Style
There are many Indian women in Fairbanks who show up at parties always in saris, no matter how cold it is outside. Therefore, people expect female immigrants to wear ethnic clothes. This expectation is not about singling immigrants out, but about being curious about traditional clothes, cultural diversity, and interest in non-western fashion. I was always asked
Why don’t you wear a dirndl?
Why I Bought the Dirndl
First I thought that the question and curiosity would just go away after a while. However, I misjudged the situation. More exactly, I did not expect that parties may have guests from as far as Juneau in the south to Barrow in the North with respect to family and friends from all over the Interior including Anchorage. After I got tired about always having to explain that dirndls are only worn in the Alpine German speaking regions, I bought a dirndl.
Another reason was that I felt bad for not meeting their expectation of wearing the global trend of ethnic clothes.
Why Getting a Dirndl Didn’t Do the Trick
The next time I visited my parents in Germany, I made a trip to Bavaria and bought the dirndl shown here. When I wore the same dirndl the second time around, two ladies got upset about the repeat. Why? Because Indian women never ever do that. Consequently, guests were expecting that I would not do it neither.
If I only had know that before, I would have stayed with educating about dirndls. Unfortunately, I hadn’t checked my photos from Diwali parties in Fairbanks Alaska. Otherwise I would have realized, they never wore the same sari twice. More on what is best to wear at a Diwali party.
Why can they afford to wear a new saree each time?
Sarees are much cheaper than dirndls.
Now What to Have Sustainable Fashion?
Whoever visited the Münchner Oktoberfest, knows that dirndls are expensive. To get the price-per-wear down to below a dollar I decided to find ways to wear the dirndl beyond parties as summer weekend looks. Well, I also wear it when there is an Oktoberfest in Alaska. However, one can also wear craft beer color inspired outfits when visiting breweries for Oktoberfest.
Have you once worn the “wrong” outfit to a party? Do you wear the same dress to different parties? Do you repeat your outfits? Let me know, I am curious.
Photos: G. Kramm
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