All about White Peasant Dress

White Peasant Dress – If you've watched The Sound of Music film as many times as I have, you've probably wondered, "What did the von Trapp family really wear?" After all, we know that the family was wealthy for many years in Salzburg, and Maria von Trapp herself once earned a living doing hand embroidery during college. In studying the clothing of the original Trapp family, you will notice two major periods — before Maria and after Maria! The photographs we have today that depict this famous family's life in the early 1900s show their daughters as wearing heirloom European styles. These garments appear to be sewn of fine cotton batistes and voiles, and feature ruffles, empire waists, and puffy sleeves. The von Trapp childrens' real mother, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, was quite the fashionable young lady in her early married years. She had a tightly corseted figure for the Gibson girl-era outifts she wore with the obligatory airbun hairstyle. So what happened to redirect this noble Austrian family from the elegant fashions popular all over Europe to the Austrian peasant-style dirndls?

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When Maria Augusta Kutschera came along in the 1920s, she had other ideas for the family's wardrobe! In her book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria wrote about her concerns with the children's clothing which restricted them from playing sports and enjoying the outdoor activities which she was accustomed to. The von Trapp children did, in fact, wear sailor suits during the day, and white silken blouses with full skirts for the girls in the evenings and on Sundays. "But how can you climb a tree in a silk dress?!" Maria demanded, and from then on began a good-natured battle with the family housekeeper Baroness Matilda, depicted as Frau Schmidt in The Sound of Music movie. Maria suggested that the children abandon their leather leggings and hats for a Wetterfleck, a woolen cape with an attached hood. And why couldn't the dear girls wear ski pants so they could participate in winter activities with their brothers?

White Peasant Dress

Gradaully, the family gave in to Maria's new ways. Shortly after Captain Georg von Trapp's and Maria's wedding, the children began wearing the traditional Austrian costume – the Austrian military style uniform for the boys, and a dirndl dress with white peasant blouse for the girls. This "new look" would last for many years as the family performed on stage and eventually escaped to America. During one creative moment as a new mother, Maria even took down some old drapes from the von Trapp villa's elegant windows which she fashioned into outfits for all seven children! We can speculate that the older teenaged children did not take to these new playclothes as kindly as their film counterparts did, but they must have appreciated the effort and love put into the making of the garments!

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By the time the family was giving concert tours in the United States, their stage manager suggested the need for change in their wardrobes. Shorter skirts, modern styles, and high heeled shoes were his suggestion, but no indeed! Maria wouldn't hear of the Hollywood glamour look, and she once referred to the formal fashions of the 1940s as"nightmarish evening gowns that lack fabric somewhere"! Though the von Trapp girls did eventually use make-up and high heels on stage, they preferred the colorful garb of the beloved homeland for private life.

So today if you happen to be fortunate enough to visit with daughters Maria or Rosmarie von Trapp, you will see the exact same style of Bavarian folkwear that has been worn for centuries!


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