To follow up on my previous post, a Guide to Buying and Wearing a Dirndl, today I bring you a guide on buying and wearing Lederhosen!
As I mentioned in my Dirndl post, Dirndl and Lederhosen are a popular type of Bavarian dress. A Dirndl is a colourful flared dress with a corset and an apron and Lederhosen are brown leather pants with or without matching leather suspenders. There are all kinds of Trachten (traditional dress) found in Germany, but Dirndl and Lederhosen are the typical dress that people associate with Oktoberfest and Germany.
Today’s post covers tips on buying and wearing Lederhosen. (For tips on buying and wearing a Dirndl, please check out my accompanying Dirndl guide).
How to Buy and Wear Lederhosen
1. Set a budget
Lederhosen are made of genuine leather and are therefore quite expensive. A pair can easily start at 130 Euros and go way up. You can find the most affordable styles in a German department store such as K&L. Though department stores will only carry about 3 different styles, most modern Lederhosen look more or less the same so you needn’t worry about having the same pair as someone else. Specialty Trachten shops will carry more variety, but the Lederhosen will also be more expensive.
I would recommend investing in a good pair since men will wear their pair of Lederhosen for life (change of size not withstanding)! You will notice a correlation between the price and the quality of the leather – as expected, the better the leather, the higher the price. A certain colour of leather (say, dark brown) is not necessarily better quality. I would also advise asking the sales staff at the Trachten store to recommend the best quality of Lederhosen that they carry in your price range.
2. Try on a few different lengths, styles and colours
Though all Lederhosen look fairly alike, there are some important differences. For instance, consider if you want a knee-length pair or a 3/4 length pair. Both are traditional but you may want to factor in the season when you plan to wear your Lederhosen the most. For example, shorts will keep you cooler in the summer, but a 3/4 length pair will keep you a little warmer during autumn festivals (like Oktoberfest). S is always warm so he opted for a pair of shorts.
You will also have the option of getting a pair of Lederhosen with or without suspenders (called Geschirr or Hosenträger). S was indifferent but I suggested that he get a pair with suspenders for a more traditional look. They are adjustable so you can wear the leather piece higher or lower across your chest.
Lederhosen can be plain or embroidered with patterns. Usually the more elaborate the pattern, the more expensive the Lederhosen. That being said, I think almost all the pairs of Lederhosen that we saw in stores had at least some light-coloured embroidery across the leather chest piece, the drop-front flap, around the pockets and by the knees.
Lastly, Lederhosen leather can come in all shades of brown. S chose a dark brown pair since he thought it would handle general wear and scuffs quite well.
3. Pick your accompanying shirt
Men usually wear a coloured checkered shirt underneath their Lederhosen. Typical colours include red, maroon, light blue, navy and green. You can choose to wear a checkered shirt that matches the colour of your regional flag (say, light blue if you’re from Upper Bavaria), or you can just pick a colour that you like.
S really wanted to wear a red and white checkered shirt (the colours of the Franconian flag, Franconia being the region of Bavaria where S comes from). Since S and I were going to be wearing our Trachten together, we thought they should coordinate somewhat, so I picked a red, white and black Dirndl to match his red checkered shirt.
Like Lederhosen, the checkered shirts vary in pattern (thinly or thickly checkered) and quality (100% cotton or a blend). The Trachten shirts can be distinguished from regular checkered shirts in that the buttons are made with pieces of deer antler and the sleeves can be rolled up and buttoned into place.
Now that you have your Lederhosen and checkered shirt, it’s time to accessorize your outfit. Light coloured knee-high cable-knit socks and sturdy brown Haferlshuhe (aka ‘half-shoes’) with side tie lacing complete the look. If you want to be extremely traditional, you can also top off your look with a hat (called a Tiroler Hut). Traditionally, Bavarian hunters would wear hats to shield their eyes from the sun and their heads from the rain. Nowadays the cord-trimmed and often feather-topped hat has become a signature piece of the Bavarian Tracht.
As a gift, the manager at the Trachten shop where S bought his Lederhosen and shirt gave him a pair of Trachten socks for free. If you’re buying your entire Dirndl or Lederhosen ensemble at one shop, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have a set price as this might be a way to save some money on your outfit.
5. No washing!
Despite my earlier comment that men will wear their pair of Lederhosen for life, you’re never supposed to wash them! In fact, S told me that there’s a small point of pride in having a dirty pair (ie. you’re rough and tumble)! So be mindful of your beer steins inside the Oktoberfest tents otherwise you’ll smell like Pils every time you wear your Lederhosen!
I hope you found this Lederhosen buying and wearing guide useful! Here’s a great Lederhosen and Dirndl guide from a fellow expat in Germany:
California Globetrotter: Understanding the Lederhosen Culture
Do you have a pair of Lederhosen? Ladies, would you wear the female version of Lederhosen? I’d love to hear in the comments below!