Dirndle skirts were worn during spring, fall and summer, in high school in the 1950’s. Spelled “dirndl” today, they were usually cotton, with a gathered waist and a deep hem. The length was about mid-calf and they came in every color and pattern imaginable. Most of them had floral patterns with pastel colors. Others’ were checkered or striped and sometimes just one color.
They were cool and comfortable to wear and easy to wash. Another big advantage to the dirndle skirt was that we could have lots of them. Although there were patterns available, my friends and I never used a pattern when we sewed them. We bought cotton material on sale. For pennies, we could make a new skirt in a few hours. All we needed was the material, elastic band for the waist, thread and a sewing machine.
It was lots of fun to have a new skirt almost every week or two. They usually needed ironing, but were so easy to iron it only took a few minutes for each skirt.
In the 50’s in my large metropolitan high school, the girls were required to take Sewing and Cooking, and the boys had to take Shop. If a boy wanted to be a chef or a girl a mechanic, too bad in those days. (Times have changed for the better in that regard!) Girls alternated semesters of the required classes, Sewing and Cooking. In the sewing semesters, we often made more dirndle skirts. So on school time we got to sew our clothes.
We usually wore a white blouse with the skirt, or a colored blouse that matched the color of the skirt. White blouses were often the “peasant type” blouse, with the rounded, elastic neckline, and some had puffed sleeves. Synthetic materials weren’t common then, so few of the skirts or blouses were made of material other than cotton.
I know the patterns for those skirts, and most other clothing item patterns, cost under a dollar in the 50’s. Often stores would have sales and we bought patterns for ten cents each. But for my dirndle skirts, I never used a pattern.
Once I’d sewn one and learned how easy it was to make, I was hooked. I’d frequently check out the “five and dime” stores we had in those days, for sales on material. My allowance would usually cover the price of the material for another skirt, since even in the 1950’s it didn’t cost much.
Old patterns for these skirts, from the 50’s, with everything intact and in good condition, cost five to ten dollars each today. I’ve even seen a few selling for twenty-five dollars.
Today, a nice dirndle skirt from the 50’s can easily sell for twenty to seventy dollars or more. I sure wish I had all those skirts from my high school years! But along with my other clothes from that era, they are long gone, except for memories.