Did Someone Say Lederhosen?

If you say “Germany” to most Americans and then ask them to list everything they know about the culture, you’ll probably get a response that starts with two words: Lederhosen and Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is just one of many, many festivals here.   I posted a gallery back at the beginning of April from a smaller festival when Palmator was tapped for the first time, back on Palm Sunday.  There’s one coming up here in Regensburg called Dult.  Mai Dult, in this case, because it’s in May.  There’s another Dult in September.  This has all the trappings of an Oktoberfest, though, including rides, crowds, tents with live music, people in traditional outfits, and, of course, beer.

As for the traditional clothing, there are many different types of tracht. While the word tracht translates to costume, this isn’t just a costume for those who wear it, it’s a part of their cultural heritage and tradition. However, tracht is not traditional for all of Germany- it’s regional.  It is mostly found in Austria and here in Bavaria.  Tracht is often worn for festivals, but it’s not at all uncommon to see it worn here for bachelor and bachelorette parties and other festive occasions.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Author: Nemoralis

The female traditional wear is called a Dirndl, and it usually consists of a bodice, blouse, and a full skirt and apron.  There are versions for both cooler and warmer weather, with the primary differences being sleeve length and the materials used.  The warm weather dirndl is usually lightweight cotton whereas the winter uses heavier fabric such as wool.

The colors of a dirndl are often quite bright, and a quick view of the window of any Tracht store you might happen across will show you examples in all colors- bright greens, turquoise, yellow, red, royal blue, and even pinks and purples.  They’re available in both a knee length style as seen in the picture at left, as well as a longer ankle length style.

The placement of the knot on the apron has significance as well-  a knot on the left signifies the wearer is single, on the right indicates that she is married, engaged, or otherwise taken, and a knot tied at the back indicates that the wearer is widowed.

Lederhosen, which literally translates to leather pants, and their longer cousin bundhosen, are what most Americans think of when they picture Germans at a festival.   The shorter lederhosen are leather breeches, typically worn with suspenders and a brace, which is that bit in front of the chest.  The shirt, socks, and shoes are all very specific, as is the stitching on the lederhosen.  The shirts are typically a checked pattern and are available in all colors.  The socks are worn a specific way, and there’s even a style that covers the calves for cooler weather.

Lederhosen are never washed in the same way that you would wash other garments.  They are supposed to develop a shiny patina from age and use.  Care instructions include things like “if it gets wet, dab but don’t rub” and the like- after all, they’re made of leather.

Since I’m going to be living in Bavaria for several years, I thought it would be a good idea to have a set of these for festivals and special events.  I’m not really certain how often I’ll wear my lederhosen, but I wanted to do this right.  I got one shirt  in forest green, and another with royal blue checks, and the rest of the outfit looks like this:


13 thoughts on “Did Someone Say Lederhosen?

  1. Nice duds. Wirkes im Gewerbepark? That’s where I got my black ones. The advice I got was not to sit on any cloth upholstery if the ‘hosen have gotten wet but not had time to dry thoroughly, as the color may bleed off the leather and onto, say, your couch. Not sure if this also applies to the dark brown color, like yours.

    The other piece of advice I got was to break them in as much as you can. They’ll stretch and get more comfortable, but not if they’re spending most of the time in a drawer somewhere. I like to roll iconoclastic, often pairing my medium brown ‘hosen ohne Träger with a tee shirt on the weekend.

    I’m envious of those with a nice gray-green set, but I don’t suppose I’ll ever need another set.


    1. Actually, the shirt was from Wirkes. The lederhosen were from Edelnice, and the shoes, socks, and not-pictured shirt were from Moser. It was that kind of a day. Edelnice had a great price though; I only paid 89 euro for the lederhosen, which made this a great deal more bearable.

      I plan on spending some time wearing them around the house to get more flexibility- I had trouble bending my legs to put on my shoes for these pictures. 😀


  2. Wow, you even went for the shoes and socks. Well done. Although I am a fan of the oddly placed sock/legwarmers that you see on some gents.


  3. Kathrin

    “This has all the trappings of an Oktoberfest” – you got the article wrong. There’s no such thing as an Oktoberfest. There’s only THE Oktoberfest.

    Let me know when you go to Dult, I have a Dirndl to match your shirt.


    1. I’m planning to be there on Friday night with my friend Jenny. I’m told that there are fireworks on opening night, so that’s kinda neat.


  4. I remember in the 70’s in France Lederhosen were sold on catalogues,and mymum orderd me one,I was 16 at the time,It was a “smooth green leather one with a flap,buttons and the matching suspenders,and I felt great in it too,quite a lot of other boys were wearing them at the time in France! Even my sister wpould pinch it and wear it ,so mum orderd her one too,and it’s true that she did look sexy in it,( she was 15 at the time),and we were allways going out wearing our Lederhosen’s.Later on we grew adults,and got married,and my wife seeing the photos of me and my sister in Lederhosen,said “wow! you did look great in them,what a pity you don’t have anymore to put on! Soon after that,my wife wanted us to go on a holiday in “sud-tirol” ( german-speaking northen Italy),and I asked her howcome? she said “oh it’s so pretty over there,and I said okay let’s go!.So we got installed in a “ferienwohnung” and the next day we visited “Meran” ( merano),were the empress “sissi had a castle,and straight away my wife dragged me in a “trachten-geschafte” with lots of dirndl’s and lederhosen!,then she took in her hands a short brown lederhosen with the suspenders attached to it by big horn buttons,and asked me ,come on try it on it would suit you,and I did ,so we bought it,( and she made me wear it strait away,,and as for her she got herself a blck one with Y type of suspenders and the suspenders pointed out much more than mine because of her breast,but once again she too looked impecable in it. Now when we go out “hiking or for a walk we put them on,in fact it still feels good to wear lederhosen,they are so practicle,sport and allways “à la mode!


    1. Jean-Yves

      So true,
      I am French, and wore lederhosen a lot when kid, in the sixties and at the beginning of the seventies, I had three of them between say age of six and maybe sixteen. I wore them a lot because this garment is very comfortable, warm when cold, cool on warmer days. This is leather. And it fears nothing, either tears or dirt, The best shorts for both kids and moms.
      For a while I didn’t wear them anymore, but later I went on vaccations in germay and bought me one again. And I still wear them.

      The green/black shiny ones are the best as you will never have any stain on them, either grease, food or mud.


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