Lederhosen – An explanation

Lederhosen are a type of traditional German dress worn (predominantly) by men. Literally translated, these ‘leather trousers’ were previously the everyday working clothes of men in Austria and Southern Germany (mainly Bavaria). Their durability, comfort and traditional design have meant that they have grown in popularity as the outfit of choice for any self respecting man at festivals other than just Oktoberfest.

Lederhosen - The basics

So men don’t have such a wide range of choices as women when it comes to Tracht, but there are still options. Many shops offer a bundle package. For around 200 euro you can get a full outfit, as seen on the guy above, yes, including the socks!

Did you know that Lederhosen are for life? And that they don’t ever get cleaned? Well at least that saves money on dry cleaning! It is important to choose a pair that fit properly and suit your lifestyle. Contrary to what you might think about leather trousers being hot and sweaty, I’ve been told that actually they are pretty comfortable, even in the height of summer. They do take a while to get used to though, if you aren’t used to wearing tighter trousers.

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The shorts themselves vary in length from Kurze (short or above the knee, as above) to Kniebund (ends just under the knee, as below), if you choose the latter, it is important that your lederhosen be long enough that your knee remains covered when you are seated. You can find shorter styles (think hot pants, I kid you not) and full length Tracht style trousers too but these are less common for festival goers. When buying Lederhosen it is best to buy a pair which fit tightly (but not uncomfortably so) on your thighs, the leather will stretch as you wear them and saggy Lederhosen are not what you want.

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Colours range from a light sandy brown to black with coordinating stitching, thankfully all practical colours that hide the mud well. All Lederhosen can be adjusted at the back, particularly useful if you’ve eaten too much Schäufele for lunch, also useful when you haven’t worn them in yet and for tightening them when you have. Kniebund length also have a ties just under the knees. Sizing follows normal clothing sizing, decent shops will have a range of lengths to suit the taller and shorter amongst you.

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Braces come in two main styles, ‘V’ where a V is formed at the front just above the front flap and the braces are connected to the middle button and ‘H’, so called because (you’ve guessed it) a H is formed across the chest. The middle piece of the H that rests across the chest (Stegträger) is decorated with embroidery, in years gone by designed and sewn by your wife, some have colourful designs, particularly in Bavaria where you might see the blue and white flag or lions featured.

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The front flap or ‘Hosntürl’ in Bavarian (little trouser door) is also sometimes referred to as the codpiece (Schamkapsel) and that little piece of information will make me smile all day. Decorated with embroidery and secured with buttons, the inside fly is also buttoned, more modern styles might have a zip. The braces are adjustable and removable, your lederhosen may have belt loops too.

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You will find three main pockets on your Lederhosen along with this small ‘Messertasche’ or knife pocket on the right leg. Some complete sets come with a hunting knife to fit in this pocket included, however, knives are banned at Oktoberfest and not recommended if you’re off for a relaxing afternoons drinking, it’s just something else to lose.

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The majority of shirts will be checked and come in a range of colours, blue, pink, green, yellow and on and on, whatever you like. Lots of men choose to coordinate their shirt with their partners Dirndl colours, personally I love couples matching, it isn’t mandatory though. Whilst the sleeves are long, most have a button halfway up the arm to allows you to roll and secure the shortened sleeves. A white shirt is also another option, although these are usually sold separately.

The traditional shoes (Haferlschuhe) are surprisingly comfortable and hard wearing and although a colour coordinated converse can look good too, trainers are a big no-no. You will see men with their long Haferl socks rolled up, especially if there’s a slight breeze in the air, scrunching them down (a la 90’s slouch socks) is just fine too. Then comes a different type of sock, one that comes in two parts. Called Loferl socks they consist of an ankle sock, and a matching calf warmer, mostly worn by men sporting the shorter Lederhosen. No one has yet given me a satisfactory explanation of why these exist, if you know please share the secret.

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Every man (and woman too) can wear Lederhosen, are you man enough?

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