It goes without saying that traditional Bavarian dress isn’t just about dirndls! If anything, the men’s garb is even more recognisable: 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. They range from short through over-knee to full-length and, although they generally feature a flap over the flies and the classic matching braces joined at the chest by a strap, they may also look quite different; one thing almost all traditional lederhosen feature is decorative embroidery. Bavarians wear to attend festivals and fairs, of which the Oktoberfest is the most famous.
Chapter 1 The dirndl (plus aprons, shoes, etc.)
Chapter 2 All about your dirndl
Chapter 3 The lederhosen
Chapter 4 All about your lederhosen
Lederhosen are usually worn with a knitted cardigan or a Bavarian blazer made of loden or wool (a Janker); some prefer to pair them with a leather jacket, though, or other forms of coat. Aside from the Oktoberfest, lederhosen are also worn on other occasions, especially weddings, wear full Trachten outfits are often on display.
Away from traditional contexts, women, too, can wear lederhosen as part of a fashion look. Scroll down to find out more.
Obviously, an authentic pair of Bavarian lederhosen is the most important component in your Oktoberfest outfit. Your lederhosen can be made of various types of leather, with buckskin – leather made from deer hides – being the most popular due to its softness. Other common types include split cowhide leather, wild boar hides, and goatskin. Bavarian leather breeches are usually accompanied by a pair of matching over-shoulder braces: they’re not just for men with, ahem, “overhang”, but a characteristic part of the outfit. The suspenders are either joined at the chest by a panel strap or are worn singly like standard braces.
Another important detail is the buttoned flap or ‘bib’ over the flies, delicately embroidered as a centrepiece. In terms of length, a short pair should stop mid-thigh; the classic knickerbocker length goes just over the knee; the full-length versions fall on the shoe at the ankle.
Discover our lederhosen
The next-most important component of your Oktoberfest outfit. Classic Bavarian shirts are made of linen or cotton, and although many are checked, they don’t necessarily have to be: white or natural shades are very common too. Collars may be standard turn-overs or banded (stand-up); some are also button-down.
Shirts for special occasions may feature embroidery on the placket, and the buttons themselves are also typically Bavarian, made of horn, leather, or embossed metal. The robust, hard-wearing Pfoad is the most traditional type of shirt: a pull-over, it only opens as far as the midriff, where the bottom of the button tape facing is covered by a characteristic flap of material.
Wondering if you can wear a t-shirt with your lederhosen? Go for it! It’s not a traditional look, but why not experiment a little? Read on to chapter 4 for advice on how to match shirts and tops to lederhosen.
One way to show a sure sense of style at the Oktoberfest is to get the right shoes. If you turn up in trainers, eyes will roll, so why not get a sensible, hard-wearing pair of authentic Bavarian shoes for your visit? The most typical form of lederhosen footwear is the Haferlschuh, a comfortable leather half-boot with a thick, sturdy sole and a characteristic tongue over the instep.
You’ll also find versions with cross-over fasteners, while some people wear lace-up heavy-duty hiking boots or similar. Whichever type you go for, get the right overall colour of leather to match your lederhosen, but don’t worry if you’re one or two shades away.
At cooler times of year, a Bavarian jacket is a sensible addition to your lederhosen outfit – after all, just putting on any old anorak with your smart leather breeches would look wrong. If, on the other hand, you wear a traditional Janker, you’re guaranteed to cut a stylish figure. Your principal choice is between a more formal loden blazer or a casual knitted cardigan. Loden (also called broadcloth) is a woollen fabric treated and rolled in much the same way as felt to make it wind and waterproof.
Loden is generally dark grey, brown, or green and is usually used to make a formal blazer for wear with lederhosen; the collar and lapels, placket, and cuffs are generally two-tone and embroidered. Woollen cardigans, too, often feature decorative stitching or other detailing. Some of the very best Bavarian jackets for lederhosen are also made of leather.
Although men don’t have quite the same range of accessories as women, Bavarian dress does offer a few options that other styles don’t: hats, for instance! Why not make a real entrance at the Oktoberfest with a Bavarian hat? Made of soft felt with a sturdy band around the crown, authentic examples also feature a Gamsbart, a tuft of mountain goat hair as proof of the wearer’s hunting credentials…
Now, although materials for your Oktoberfest outfit should be as authentic as possible, it’s okay for you to opt for the synthetic version here! Overall, the hat – or an element on it such as the band – should pick up on a colour elsewhere in your outfit. There’s plenty of choice, so you’re sure to find one that matches.
Waistcoats are an optional extra for your lederhosen outfit – and what an optional extra! Most of them are intended to be combined with breeches worn without their braces and they can also form part of a full Trachten three-piece suit. From the most rustic waistcoats made of thick-weave linen through to heavy-duty leather vests or dapper silken gilets, there is a broad range of looks to choose from.
As a general rule, the front of a waistcoat features patterning or embroidered details while the rear is plain. Bavarian waistcoats are usually worn buttoned up over a shirt with a stand-up or turn-over collar; there are few rules, but the shirt should almost always be long-sleeved. If you want to go more casual, some vests look decent worn open and can be combined with tops or short-sleeved shirts.
Jewellery is a key part of Bavarian fashion – and that goes for men, too, in the shape of the Charivari, a silver chain hung with lucky charms. Traditionally, the chain and its pendants are hung from the buttons on the lederhosen flap, and although that might seem unusual for men not used to jewellery (and even for those who are), it’s a great way to give your Oktoberfest outfit that extra local touch – and an eye-catching conversation starter in any case.
Originally, the charms on a Charivari were trophies from the hunt – or at least symbols of successful hunting. Authentic Charivari chains may feature all sorts of odd finds, from bear’s teeth or the talons of a bird of prey; even mole’s paws have been known to put in appearances. But never fear, as there are less grisly options available to those buying a new chain today.
A pair of lederhosen looks lost unless worn with the right legwear. At the very least, you should put on a pair of thick woolly socks under your shoes or boots. If you want something even more traditional, opt for cable-knitted calf-warmers called Loferl in Bavarian dialect; they come with matching ankle socks.
These two-piece socks are a classic element in men’s Trachten outfits, as are knee-highs going the full length from the toes to the top of the calves. As a general rule, two-piece Loferl work well with short lederhosen while full-length knee-highs look best paired with over-knee breeches.
Belts are worn with lederhosen as a replacement for the traditional braces. A proper lederhosen belt should be wide enough to fill the belt loops and been made of a similarly rough-and-ready leather; a large, striking silver, bronze, or brass belt buckle with a typically Bavarian motif identifies it as Tracht wear.
Buckle designs are engraved or embossed and may include classic Alpine elements such as springing deer or edelweiss flowers; coats of arms such as the Bavarian lion with the state’s hallmark lozenge pattern are also used. Top-of-the-range belts have buckles with initials engraved on them.
The Charivari is a piece of jewellery with a long tradition behind it and an unclear origin. Most probably, it developed from the chain to which gentlemen would affix their pocket watches. The etymology of the word suggests that it developed from slang terms for a “mix-up” or “knick-knacks” – a derivation which seems to make sense from a visual point of view.
The average Charivari is around one foot long made of 80% alloyed or 92.5% sterling silver and is hung with a variety of trinkets and ornaments: pieces of antler, animal fangs or hair; talismans in the shape of an animal; silver coins and medals or gemstones. Traditionally, the trinkets would tell the tale of successful hunting excursions and was hung around the flap at the front of the lederhosen.
Original antique Charivaris can be worth large sums of money; some are even wholly made from items such as fox teeth or stag’s antlers. On contemporary Charivaris sold as fashion items, the trinkets tend to be replicas, and some feature teeth, claws, or animal skulls cast in metal; cheaper Charivari chains are made of silver-coated metal rather than pure silver.
There are Charivaris for women, too, which can be worn as necklaces. They are generally more delicate in appearance, featuring petite trinkets on a slender chain, and also look great slung across the lace-up front of a dirndl. If you are thinking of adding one to yours, remember to avoid neck jewellery, though, so as not to overdo the look.
Are women even allowed to wear lederhosen? Of course they are! Although traditionally a preserve of Bavarian men, lederhosen – especially shorter cuts – have become a popular style choice for young women.
Ladies’ lederhosen look best as part of an overall Bavarian outfit, combined with a linen blouse and a short waistcoat for instance, but can also be worn with a fun t-shirt at the Oktoberfest as part of a more casual style.
Just like in men’s fashion, there are several lengths of lederhosen available for ladies. The very shortest versions are leather hot-pants and wearing them is a matter of your figure and confidence as much as anything else. Whatever the length, you can add braces to your lederhosen, with or without a panel at chest height, to make them that bit more traditional. So if you’re the kind of girl who really prefers trousers to skirts and dresses, you’ve got all the choice you need.Women’s lederhosen
Although dirndl dresses are by far the most popular Bavarian fashion item, they’re not the only thing out there – and there’s nothing to stop you piecing together your own personal look. If you opt for lederhosen, for instance, you can pair them with a dirndl corsage and a cropped blouse , allowing you to add feminine charm to your outfit. It won’t take long for the first compliments to come rolling in.Dirndl bodices
Women’s lederhosen can be combined with any number of tops: wear them with a Bavarian themed t-shirt for a relaxed, casual look. Go for stops with prints or patches to add even more character to your outfit. Alternatively, wear a checked blouse or a top with decorative embroidery to add a slightly dressier touch while keeping your style informal.Bavarian shirts and blouses
If you opt for lederhosen, what shoes should you wear? After all, every girl knows that an outfit is as much about shoes as anything else. The answer is Haferlschuhe or boots, just like the boys; add woolly socks to complete the look. Whatever the precise details, the overall direction is robust footwear and socks which look hand-knitted.Bavarian shoes and boots
Are you looking for that special accessory to really set your lederhosen outfit off? Look no further: a Charivari is just what you need. Like the men, you can finish your leather shorts by hanging a chain decorated with charms and trinkets across the flap; alternatively, wear a more delicate Charivari as a necklace.Women’s Charivaris