Lederhosen and dirndl are serious business in Germany – especially if you attend a festival in Bavaria or Oktoberfest. Here’s an insider’s guide to stocking your German wardrobe.
One of the things people commonly associate with Germany are those cute traditional costumes used by men and women during Oktoberfest. What many people don’t know is that they are typical dress in the Bavarian region that are not only used during Oktoberfest but also during other local festivals throughout the year, as well as traditional weddings and parties.
This famous traditional Bavarian costume is called Tracht – a costume of a certain region – and the Lederhosen are for men and the Dirndl is for women. Here in Bavaria it’s common to see people wearing Tracht throughout the year; the costume is taken very seriously, and if you ever visit the region don’t be surprised if you find people even wearing them on a normal day around the streets or at the stadium watching a football match.
The origin of the traditional Bavarian Tracht dates back to the 1600s when the Bavarian Prince Elector Maximilian I established a dress code for the people, with the purpose of dividing the society into different social classes based on their status and profession.
Later, in the 18th century, Prince-Regent Luitpold demonstrated his affection for the traditional Bavarian Tracht by wearing it at several public and private occasions, which made the costume very popular among the people, especially in the upper Bavarian mountain region. With time, the status-symbolism of the Tracht became less important until it became common among all people.
Today, the Tracht is used in the everyday life of people living in rural areas of Bavaria, and is also used in some regions of Austria, since they were highly influenced by the Bavarians in the past.
Leder means leather and Hosen means pants. Lederhosen is the typical Bavarian costume worn by men, together with shirts, socks sometimes up to the knees, hats, jackets and shoes, all made especially to match.
The Lederhosen can be found in different colours and length:
Interesting fact: after some time living in Germany I noticed that when the men got their hands dirty during a festival – that being from beer or food – they cleaned them on their Lederhosen, and on top of that they never wash their Lederhosen. And you know why? My husband told me the dirtier the better, as it means it has a lot of history to tell. And his Lederhosen is in our closet…
Dirndl is a Bavarian word which means girl, and for this reason it is also the name of this famous traditional dress used by women. The Dirndl can be short, mid-length or long, and comes in many different colours and textures. It is used with a specific blouse, and normally with some accessories to match, like necklaces, hats, purses, blazers, shoes, scarfs, bracelets and so on.
Every Dirndl has a ribbon around the waist, which can be tied in different ways, depending on whether you are married, single, a widow or a kid.
Here are the simple rules of tying your Dirndl:
- To your left side – you are single.
- To your right side – you are married or promised to someone.
- To the back – for widows or waitresses.
- In the middle – for young girls/kids.
Nowadays, women also have the option of wearing Lederhosen, even though the majority prefer to wear a Dirndl – which is my case – as it is more charming and sweet, perhaps more feminine.
People still occasionally get married wearing Tracht – and it is very beautiful, since there are Trachten made especially for weddings.
Babies and petsYou can find Tracht for everyone, including for babies, kids and pets. Everyone living here must have at least one.
Just like normal clothes, the Tracht comes from different designers and stores so of course their prices vary from cheap to very expensive. Some people have not only one but several of them.
The price of one Dirndl can vary from EUR 60 up to EUR 3,000. If you choose to buy a cheap one, be sure that many people will also be wearing the same thing – as they are more popular – and for this reason many prefer to buy exclusive ones or even costumes made especially for them.
If you don’t want to spend so much money on a costume you might only wear once a year or never again, it is possible to buy a Dirndl and all the accessories for EUR 100–500. Living here in Bavaria you need one, trust me. Otherwise, people will always ask why you aren’t wearing a Dirndl/Lederhosen.
Wedding Tracht can be as expensive as a normal wedding suit/dress; but it does also depend on your budget and the quality you are looking for.
Where to buy your Tracht
You can buy Tracht throughout Bavaria during the whole year in several different stores and outlets. There are stores at the airport, online, at shopping malls, in department stores, as well as specialised stores. During the Oktoberfest and other festivals there are also people selling hats and other accessories you can buy. Choosing where to buy yours really depends on how much you want to spend. I have here a few recommendations below.
On a budget to mid-price
Exclusive and Coutoure