Let’s Talk Trachten: Traditional German Clothing • FamilySearch (2024)

Clothing tells a story. Our clothes express who we are and what we value. They may give clues about our occupation or background. They can give us a sense of cultural belonging. These things are true for us, and they were true for our ancestors.

Did you have ancestors from Germany or areas where German was spoken? Keep reading to learn more about the traditional German clothing your ancestors might have worn.


In any perusal of German clothing, you’re likely to come across the words tracht and trachten (the plural of tracht). The original meaning of trachten was “something that is worn.” However, it’s now associated mainly with traditional clothing of bygone eras. It can also apply to accompanying hats, jewelry, hairstyles, and even symbols and insignia.

Historically, trachten identified wearers as belonging to a certain social class, working in a given occupation, or following a certain religion. Sometimes trachten were worn as a symbol of national unity. Today, trachten can be a meaningful way to connect with one’s cultural heritage.

Dirndls and Lederhosen

Dirndls and lederhosen may quickly come to mind as traditional German clothing. These outfits originated in Bavaria but have been widely adopted elsewhere.

A dirndl is a dress consisting of a blouse, bodice, skirt, and apron. Dirndls were originally worn by servants or peasants. They were typically made of sturdy cloth that would stand up to hard work and repeated washings. Over time, however, others took notice of these unique costumes and created their own adaptations. For example, aristocratic ladies in the 18th century used finer fabrics like silk for their dirndls and added embroidery and other ornamentation.

Lederhosen are breeches worn by men, typically made of leather from cows, goats, or deer. They include suspenders worn over the shoulders and connected in the front by a decorative crosspiece. Lederhosen are often complemented by knee-high socks, leather shoes, a checkered shirt, and a jacket.

Although dirndls and lederhosen are well-known trachten, many regions have less well-known—but equally beautiful—traditional costumes. This blog article provides a visual survey of traditional clothing in many regions, including Hesse and Baden-Württemberg.


Women’s headwear can be simple or quite elaborate. One of the more eye-catching hats is the Bollenhut, which originated in the Black Forest area. It has a wide brim with pompoms on top. The pompoms are red for single women and black for married women.

Let’s Talk Trachten: Traditional German Clothing • FamilySearch (3)

The Goldhaube is an elegant hat painstakingly created from golden fabric and adorned with embroidery, sequins, or other decorations.

The quintessential tracht hat for men is the Tyrolean hat, which may be decorated by a band, a feather, a sprig of edelweiss, or even a Gamsbart, which is a tuft of hair from an animal.

Trachten Today

Dirndls fell out of favor after World War II, but they have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. Today’s designers are “breathing new life” into this traditional dress, and it’s not unusual for women to wear dirndls to family celebrations or other special events.

Traditional clothing is also an important part of cultural celebrations like Oktoberfest, which is held around the world.

Let’s Talk Trachten: Traditional German Clothing • FamilySearch (4)

Your Journey of Discovery

If you’d like to learn more about your trachten-wearing ancestors, here are some resources for you:

Begin your journey of discovery today!

Let’s Talk Trachten: Traditional German Clothing • FamilySearch (2024)


Is the traditional national costume in Germany Trachten? ›

'Tracht' is a traditional national costume in German-speaking countries. It translates to 'what is carried/worn/borne'. Dating back to the 16th century, certain styles of Tracht belong to a region, an occupation (such as farmers, shepherds or maids) or a social status.

What is German old traditional clothing? ›

Dirndls and lederhosen may quickly come to mind as traditional German clothing. These outfits originated in Bavaria but have been widely adopted elsewhere. A dirndl is a dress consisting of a blouse, bodice, skirt, and apron. Dirndls were originally worn by servants or peasants.

What is German clothing called? ›

Inspiration for Prost!: Traditional German Clothing

Walking around the crowded streets of Oktoberfest and many other Bavarian festivals, special gatherings, or weddings, you are bound to find many people sporting traditional German clothing known as “Tracht,” the most popular being the lederhosen and the dirndl.

Do Germans still wear dirndls? ›

Today it is generally considered the traditional dress for women and girls in German-speaking parts of the Alps, with particular designs associated with different regions.

Where did Tracht originate? ›

“Tracht”: tradition meets trend

Called Tracht in German, this distinctive form of dress was once worn day in, day out by men, women, and children in the Alpine regions of Bavaria and Austria. For men, the most recognisable element is, of course, the lederhosen; for women, the dirndl is the most typical piece.

Where is Trachten worn? ›

In many regions, especially Southern Germany, Bavaria and Austria, it is still acceptable to wear 'tracht' on official occasions like weddings, festivals, Church services, etc. Contemporary fashion adapts to traditional elements, and today the production of dirndl and lederhosen is a thriving industry in Germany.

What is the meaning of trachten? ›

verb. seek [verb] to try.

What are the different types of trachten? ›

Today six traditional subtypes of the Alpine tracht are recognised in Bavaria: Miesbacher Tracht, Werdenfelser Tracht, Inntaler Tracht, Chiemgauer Tracht, Berchtesgadener Tracht and Isarwinkler Tracht.

What do locals wear in Germany? ›

Don't wear yoga pants

A dark pair of slim or skinny jeans, a nice top and a cardigan, with a scarf thrown over the top, will do well in any German city. I have joked with my husband there is a German Dad uniform on the weekends: chinos in a dark colour, t-shirt or collared shirt, and a v-neck jumper on top.

Do you wear a bra with a dirndl? ›

Always select the right colour bra to wear under your dirndl blouse. It's best to try on the bra underneath your dirndl and blouse to find the perfect bra to go with your outfit.

What is a German beer girl called? ›

Kellner /Kellnerin. German for Beer Maids and Beer Waiters. Staff at Oktoberfest Munich have to be incredibly tough!

Can you wear a dirndl if you're not German? ›

If you are not German, there is no reason you can't wear a dirndl! Traditional dirndl dresses have this magical effect on people: they can make you feel elegant, confident, and flirty.

What is Trachten lederhosen? ›

"Leather Pants") is used in English to refer specifically to the traditional leather breeches worn by men in Austria, Bavaria (namely Upper Bavaria), South Tyrol and Slovenia. The term Trachten Lederhose is often used in German to avoid confusion with other types of leather pants.

What is the traditional clothing in North Germany? ›

Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen, synonymous with Bavarian culture, are undoubtedly iconic representations of German traditional clothing.

Is lederhosen German or Dutch? ›

Lederhosen is not a German tradition, it is a tradition of Bavaria (Bavaria is one state in Germany).

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