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Chapter 4 All about your lederhosen

In this chapter, you’ll find everything you need to know about your lederhosen. With centuries of tradition in the Austrian and Bavarian Alps, lederhosen remain hard-wearing, robust pieces of clothing which can be worn for years, decades even. To make sure you’re still wearing yours a few years in, it’s important to choose a model that fits well and that – most importantly of all – you feel comfortable in. Shop around before you by!

Your personal preferences and your reason for buying lederhosen will dictate whether you opt for a short, an over-knee, or a full-length pair; whichever style you choose, make sure the fit is good around the waist and in the seat of the trousers. Moreover, be aware of which type of leather you are buying: due to its characteristics, buckskin is the most popular type of leather, but wild boar suede, neat’s leather, and goatskin are all used, too. Take proper care of your lederhosen and they will see you through year after year of Oktoberfest visits and sunny afternoons in the beer garden!

Washing and cleaning lederhosen

Lederhosen don’t actually need a lot of care: it’s easy enough to brush dust and dirt off. Stains are a little trickier to deal with, however, and you’ll need to proceed according to the colour and type of leather. Smooth leather and darker shades can be cleaned with a damp cloth, and any stains from sitting on the ground can simply be left to dry and then brushed out. Use a special leather brush to get rid of greasy stains, too.

If the leather is lighter toned, however, you’ll need to take a little more care. If you want to make sure that nothing goes wrong, take your lederhosen to a cleaners specialising in leather. Although it’s not the cheapest option, you’re guaranteed to get your lederhosen back as good as new. The more expensive the lederhosen was and the higher quality it is, the more reason you have to get it cleaned professionally.

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Can you wash lederhosen yourself? There’s some debate on this. Some experts say that you can wash them in a normal washing machine as long as you use special detergents and conditioners, and there are indeed some concentrates made especially for lederhosen. We, on the other hand, would advise the utmost caution: all the more so because leather gets an attractive patina after extended wear and not washing it helps keep its character.

Always air out your lederhosen after you’ve worn them and, when storing them, make sure they are kept dry. All you need to do then is apply some leather spray and get them professionally cleaned every now and then.

Your lederhosen FAQ


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Which leather is right for lederhosen?

Lederhosen are available in all sorts of leathers. At the top of the quality scale, buckskin lederhosen are once-in-a-life-time buys and available with in smooth or suede finish. Made from deer hides, buckskin is easy to colour, and whether light, in various browns, or in dark chocolate, always looks great.

The darker the leather, the less you have to worry about marks and stains showing; the same is true of used-look lederhosen. Lighter models also look good with patina from wear – it’s proof they’re worn often, after all! As well as buckskin, wild boar hides, split cowhide leather, and goatskin are all used for lederhosen. Whatever kind of leather, though, a comfortable feel is a key mark of quality.


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How should lederhosen fit?

A pair of lederhosen fits perfectly when it is tight, but doesn’t pinch anywhere. To make sure you get this flush fit, you need to know your exact measurements – both waist and hips, at their widest point. Also, always remember that leather is a natural material and can loosen with wear.

Given leather’s tendency to expand slightly, buy your lederhosen to sit a jot too tight – but just a jot! Good lederhosen come with several button fastenings, too, allowing you to fine-tune at a later date. If you do your homework before buying, you’re sure to get the perfect fit.


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How long should lederhosen be?

The length of your lederhosen depends primarily on when and how you want to wear it. In summer and for relaxed social occasions such as the Oktoberfest short lederhosen are just right; if you think you might need them in winter, though, long lederhosen offer you year-round wear. What is more, full-length pairs can be worn with a broader range of styles: paired with a casual Bavarian shirt, they’re everyday wear; combined with a smarter shirt and a Janker jacket, they can be part of formal wear.

Die Over-knee lederhosenhave a rustic, outdoor-sy look to them, reminiscent as they are of the knickerbockers hiking and shooting parties would once wear. As such, they are just right for the most authentic of Bavarian outfits.


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Which shoes should I wear with lederhosen?

Make sure you have the right shoes so that your lederhosen aren’t robbed of their effect! Haferschuhe, a no-nonsense, sturdy half-boot made of leather are the safest choice and look great with all lengths of lederhosen; choose the colour to match your lederhosen and wear knee-length woollen socks or two-piece Loferl calf-warmers with ankle socks to finish the look.

The Haferlschuh style was originally developed in the Allgäu mountains and represents a long tradition of working boots for country folk. As such, they are perfect for lederhosen outfits when combined with the right socks and a Bavarian shirt; they also work well with jeans, however, in everyday contexts.


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What kind of shirt works with lederhosen?

A Bavarian shirt made of cotton or linen is the right choice for your lederhosen; some shirts are made of comfortable cotton-linen blends, too. As a general rule, your shirt should be looser cut, but not baggy; traditional models often feature decorative stitching around the collar, cuffs, and plackets. Colour-wise, make sure you are coordinated.

A good Oktoberfest look is harmonious, not gaudy, so try to avoid wearing too many colours at once. Start from your lederhosen and define that as your key colour (also applies to your shoes and belt), contrasting it with your shirt and, if applicable, waistcoat and jacket. What’s more, don’t forget the socks!


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How do I use the word “lederhosen” properly?

As you might have guessed, lederhosen is German for “leather trousers”. It’s important to know that the Germans talk about trousers in the singular: i.e. “the trouser”, so that the stem word for “a pair of lederhosen” is actually die Lederhose. If you say die Lederhosen or ein paar Lederhosen in German, people will think that you own two pairs or more!

In pronunciation terms, lederhosen rhymes with “wader” and “chosen” (not “beamer”). You’ll also hear Bavarians talking about their Krachlederne, which literally means “cracking leather” and refers to the sound made when, in traditional dance, leather-clad thighs are slapped!

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What is the difference between Trachten and dirndl? ›

The Swiss refer to an Austrian or German traditional dress as a dirndl, but refer to their own traditional dress as a tracht. As is the case in the neighboring country of Liechtenstein, the use of the term dirndl for a Swiss dress is discouraged. The style varies by region, for example a Bernese Tracht.

Do you wear a bra with dirndl? ›

Always wear a special dirndl bra. Incorrectly fitting and visible bras are an absolute no-go. 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.

Why do Germans wear Tracht? ›

In earlier times, each 'tracht' identified a person as belonging to a particular group in terms of social and legal status (married, single), origin or trade. Today, the term is used to describe any garment reminiscent of the attire of rural communities. Regional varieties vary greatly.

What does the bow on lederhosen mean? ›

Meaning of the dirndl bow: Dirndl bow tied on the left: The wearer is single. Dirndl bow tied on the right: The wearer is already taken, engaged or married. Dirndl bow tied in the center back: The wearer is a waitress or widowed.

Is it OK to wear a dirndl to Oktoberfest? ›

A: No, you are not required to wear a Dirndl to Oktoberfest, but it sure is more fun to dress up!

What does it mean when you wear the bow on the right side of the dirndl? ›

If the knot of the apron is tied in the front, towards the left side, it means that a woman is single. However, if the knot of the apron is tied to the right side, it means that the woman is either married or in a relationship. Their relationship status is none of your business.

Can you wear a dirndl without a blouse? ›

A dirndl is always made up of a dress and an apron; in most cases, you also wear a dirndl blouse underneath the low-cut bodice of the dress.

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!

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 is the small pocket on lederhosen for? ›

Traditionally made of leather, lederhosen come from the German speaking state of Bavaria and were the workwear of their day. The joy of leather shorts and fun suspenders spread quickly across Europe, where they were used for riding, hunting (hence the cool dagger pocket), and outdoor work.

Do you wear anything under lederhosen? ›

Worn with a linen or cotton shirt, woolly socks, and sturdy shoes, these leather breeches are an iconic item of clothing with a high recognition factor worldwide. There isn't only one single type of lederhosen, though.

Why do lederhosen have a flap? ›

The flap (drop front) may have been a unique Bavarian invention. The drop-front style became so popular in the 18th century that it was known in France as à la bavaroise, “in the Bavarian style.” The popularity of lederhosen in Bavaria dropped sharply in the 19th century.

What is a Trachten in German? ›

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.

What is the female version of lederhosen? ›

The female version of lederhosen is the traditional full dress and apron (Dirndl) that was worn by maids and housekeepers, the typical woman's occupation, of the 18th century.

What are examples of Tracht? ›

A judge's robe, a copper's uniform and a chef's white jacket an high hat would all fall under the definion of Tracht. A surgeon's blue or green scrubs and a factory worker's boiler suit are professional Trachten, and even the dress styles of Punks distinguish them from Goths or metalheads.

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