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Understanding the Lederhosen Culture - California Globetrotter

Understanding the Lederhosen Culture

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One of the many things that people automatically associate with Germany is the traditional Bavarian costume. However, this is a big misconception about the German people. What most people don’t realize is that the Lederhosen and Dirndl are a Bavarian tradition and therefore not worn throughout all of Germany. Nor are they worn all the time. For the most part, Bavarians wear their Lederhosen and Dirndl on special occasions, however it is quite possible to see some hard core Bavarians wearing them for no special reason other than the fact that they are proud of their heritage. But don’t be surprised when you are walking around Bavaria and not everyone is wearing them.

The Bavarian costume is called Tracht. Men wear the typical Lederhosen which are leather shorts that go to the knees while the women have the boob boosting Dirndl. It is more common to see people wearing their Tracht when there is a special occasion such as a beer festival. However, you will see people also wearing them for weddings and is one of the reasons why Oktoberfest is such a popular time for pulling out the Tracht costumes.

The Tracht History

The beginning of the Tracht tradition dates back all the way to 1626 when the Bavarian Prince Elector Maximilian I established a dress code based on people’s rank in society. The dress code divided society into seven groups – common peasants, common townspeople, merchants, traders, minor aristocracy, knights and lords. However, peasants and common townspeople did not have any special garments to mark their status.

As history continued, by the 1800s, the Bavarian dress code was steadily declining and more and more people were able to wear what they chose. In 1886, Prince-Regent Luitpold  had a deep affection for the garments since he himself wore them quite often. Following his lead, the older version of the costumes were replaced and once again worn throughout Bavaria.

Nowadays, the traditional costume is worn as leisurewear throughout Bavaria. People can also be found wearing them in Austria as well since Bavaria neighbors their borders and have been so influential.

If you are going to live in Bavaria, it is kind of necessary to have a traditional costume so as to fit in with the culture. Otherwise, you will surely be spotted as an outsider when at a beer festival. Even though there are plenty of Bavarians who don’t wear it.

For the Men

img_8094Leder translates to ‘Leather’ and Hosen translates to ‘pants’. Therefore, you have Leather Pants. Traditionally, they are worn with high socks which sometimes make it up to the knees, or sometimes you will see small “legwarmer” like bands around the calves of burly men. Naturally there is a shirt to also go with the Lederhosen. Typically it is a plain shirt, but it is becoming more popular with the younger generation to wear a white plaid shirt of any color. In full costumes, the Lederhosen also have suspenders, but not always.

True traditional Lederhosen might have certain color embroidery or insignia on the Lederhosen to signify from which region you come from.

To top off the costume, hard core Bavarians who take their heritage very seriously can also be found wearing a hat called Gamsbart and is made from the hair of a chamois. They are handmade and are incredibly expensive. The bigger, the more expensive. Like up to 3,000 € or more! For a hat!

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An Interesting Fact

A bit of a nasty fact, but one nonetheless interesting that I learned from a friend always wearing his Lederhosen is that the pants are NEVER washed. In fact, the dirtier the better. It helps to keep the leather moist.

For the Women

img_8095As mentioned before, women have the lucky pleasure of wearing the boob boosting Dirndl. Dirndl originally referred to a young woman or a girl. The dirndl comes from the Alpine region and is made of lighter material.

A full Dirndl dress includes a white blouse (although black is becoming popular) with a bodice to help lift the girls, a full skirt and an apron. The most traditional form of the dirndl is a long dress skirt which goes to the ankle.

Older women in rural areas still quite regularly wear their dirndls although the younger generations are beginning to wear them more often. The younger generations however, like the dirndls shorter. Generally to just below the knee. Although, as with all fashions, the younger generation can be found wearing dirndls that go above the knee.

Regensburg's Dult - California Globetrotter

There is a special way in which to tie the ribbon of the apron around one’s waist depending on your status. And it is still strictly adhered to.

de21To the left: means you are single and ready to mingle!

To the right: means you are married or promised to someone

In the middle: this is for young girls/children

In the back: means you are widowed, or for waitresses.

Now that women and men are more equal than ever before, it is also becoming a bit more popular to see women wearing a female version of the men’s Lederhosen. It’s still quite adorable although I’m a dress kinda girl!

For Kids

If the Lederhosen and Dirndl wasn’t already amazing, it gets even cuter when little kids are dressed in traditional Tracht.

A Bavarian Thankgiving - Erntedankfest Bad Gögging - California Globetrotter

Weddings

 

Source: Picture 1: Hochzeitsguide Picture 2: Premium-weddings.de

As mentioned before, people do wear their Lederhosen and Dirndls as wedding clothing and they can be very beautiful. Maybe I can convince my boyfriend to have a typical Bavarian wedding!🙂

How much is it!?

You can find Tracht stores all over Bavaria selling the latest fashions in Lederhosen and Dirndls. Outside of Bavaria, it might become harder to find such a shop since Tracht is a Bavarian tradition and not typically worn outside of Bavaria.

Like all clothes, there are different designer companies and every year a new spring fashion is modeled for the upcoming beer festival season. A Dirndl can cost anywhere between 60-3,000 €. Generally, most people buy a simple version of the dirndl which can average about 120-200 €.  You could spend 3,000 € on a Dirndl if you really wanted to but then you might never want to wear it to a beer festival where you are likely to have beer spilled on it.

 For men, the Lederhosen also varies in price depending on how you want to dress. You can buy shorter lederhosen a bit above the knee or a bit below the knee. You can buy the Lederhosen with suspenders or without suspenders. With a jacket or without a jacket. With a hat or without a hat. Again, the nicer the Lederhosen the more expensive, however, a typical more affordable Lederhosen can set you back 120-200 €.

A Bavarian Thankgiving - Erntedankfest Bad Gögging - California Globetrotter

More Posts With Traditional Tracht:

Almabtrieb at Königssee

A Bavarian “Thanksgiving”

Regensburg’s Beer Festival: Dult

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approvedor should I say Bavarian!🙂

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

23 thoughts on “Understanding the Lederhosen Culture

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  3. Nice article! But there are two items needing some additional information:

    The Gamsbart: Not the hat itself is called Gamsbart, but the tuft of chamois hair itself. Long chamois back hair is quite rare, thus the prices.

    Washing Lederhosen: Lederhosen can be washed. You don’t wash them as often as a pair of jeans, but some times it has to be. (Typically I wash mine once a year.) An interesting detail: When being washed, the initial black dye fades out a little. So the colour changes over the time from black to brown and some times even to a light brown.

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  8. First, it’s a fantastic article, however I’ve got to add something. You mentioned the Gamsbart, but you can also wear the feather of a eagle eine Adlerfeder at the hat. Wich is often seen in the Chiemgau, while the Gamsbart mostly appears in the Oberland. Also I got to add that you forgot the Trachtenfesten and the Trachtenvereinen. Wich are essential to the culture of Tracht. In the Trachtenvereine the bavarian folk dances are practiced like the Schuhplattler. There are even championships called Preisplattlen.

  9. Well if want further informations you could visit the webside of the Trachtenverband Bayern http://www.trachtenverband-bayern.de/gauverbaende.html
    There you can also find the link to the webside of the Gauverband I the oldest Gauverband of the world, founded in 1890
    My father used to be trainer in the local Trachtenverein and I’m also a member of it too, however I’m not active anymore

  10. Loved the article! I’m a big fan or all things German and Bavarian, and thank you for your insight! I may finally have to invest in lederhosen!

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