Almost everyone around the world is quick to associate the traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen costumes to the Bavarian culture. Indeed, these costumes take a very special pride in demonstrating a true Bavarian, and to anyone with a special heart to the Bavarian culture.
No matter where you go around the Bavarian region, you will find people of all sorts of ages wearing the traditional attire. In fact, it is very common to see it everyday, as it is worn simply as a leisure outfit, a special celebration, Sunday church, in traditional restaurants in addition to the folk festivals; one of them the very famous Oktoberfest taking place in Munich.
Origins Of The Bavarian Tracht dated back to 1626 as a dress code to distinguish the people’s rank in society and class and it has been established by the then Bavarian Prince Elector Maximilian I. The sumptuary law distinguished 7 groups and these groups were:
- Commercial People
- Nobility, Doctors, Earls
Also established within the same law, was that farmers were not allowed to wear imported garments and valuable jewelry except for one silver wedding ring. On the other hand, townspeople were allowed to wear two silver rings without stones and with a value of no more then 10 to 12 Gulden. Privileges were left to the nobility. In which, in addition to imported garments, jewelry and stones were allowed with values of 500 to 600 Gulden.
By 1644, the Bavarian Elector ordered the court to set up the sumptuary law of the dress code, opening the gateway for the development to a regional costume, independent to people’s status and profession and thus allowing dress up codes according to their tastes and financial possibilities.
However, It was only from 1886, after the Prince-Regent Luitpold took over the Bavarian government that the traditional costume became very popular. His fondness of the “Miesbacher Gebirgstracht” (Alpine region), which he worn to almost all social events, became the widespread trend among all regions. We could then confidentially acknowledge that he was then a trendsetter of his time all the way still strongly prevalent to present times.
Interestingly, both the traditional attires were devised from the working class, and contrary to the widespread believe, the Dirndl dress didn’t emerge from the Alpine regions but from the domestic servants in the 1800s, initially the dress being called Dirndlgewand – “maid’s dress”. The word Dirndl originates from the Austrian and German dialects, meaning “little girl”.
However, by around 1870 the Dirndl took a form of a fashion statement as a summery dress for the upper class of the city regions, as a better fit to their countryside vacation homes. And from thereon, it became not only a traditional statement to special occasions, but also a fashion statement about the pride of the Bavarian culture.
Significantly, the Dirndl is not to be confused by the Tracht, as the Tracht is the traditional costume of the German-speaking countries and it is variant to the region, special cuts, color, garments, hats, embroideries on the apron and social class. The Dirndl is a traditional costume style worn in Germany, Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol.
So, what does the Dirndl attire consists of? Well, of several layers of interesting clothing, like a:
- White Blouse
- Bodice with or without beautiful embroidery
- Full skirt with or without colorful ornamented embroidery and an apron
- And traditionally on every Dirndl is a hidden pocket on the front or side of the skirt, called “Kittlsack”
- Pumps or ballerina shoes
- If it is bound on the right side, the woman is married, engaged or “already taken”
- If is it bound on the left side, the women is single
- If it is bound on the back, the woman is widow
The Lederhosen have, knowingly so, emerged from the Alpine and the neighboring regions of Bavaria, Austria, Allgäu, Switzerland and South Tyrol and specifically worn by the working peasant community due to its high resistant garment.
Even though leather trousers were widely worn by riders and hunters in many European regions, it was in Bavaria that a very unique style has been created – the front drop “flat”. This unique style has been very popular in France and nicknamed “a la bavaroise”.
Like the Dirndl, the Lederhosen also took an interest to the nobility with a variance to the quality and feel of the garment composition. The laborers would wear short or knee length Lederhosen or longer styled “Kniebundhosen” and they were dyed in black sheepskin or goatskin, the nobility as adept hunters, would wear a softer version of brown colored Lederhosen made of deer and chamois skin.
But the Lederhosen underwent a drop of interest in both occasions when the development of garment material took place. The first one was during the 1800s due to the attractiveness of trousers made of cotton or cloth, it however shortly recovered its popularity again when the Bavarian King Ludwig II very much showed his affection to the traditional attire. The second time has been when another very famous Bavarian, Levi Strauss, invented the jeans and that has been the loss of everyday life of the Lederhosen.
The Lederhosen attire consists of:
- Leather trousers in brown, dark green or black leather breeches, commonly short or knee-length but also as long ones called Bundhosen or Kniebundhosen, braided or embroidered
- Suspenders in “V” or “H” style
- White or light checkered shirt, usually in red, blue or green
- Socks, usually in cream, grey or hunter green in knee-length, ankle-length or Loferl-style.
- Shoes “Haferlschuh” or “Haferl” in black or brown.
So, whenever you visit Munich during the Oktoberfest season or any other time of the year for any kind of occasion business or otherwise, you are always welcome to celebrate the Bavarian culture!
Images in this article courtesy of Trachten- und Ledermode Angermaier (www.trachten-angermaier.de).