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History

History of Lederhosen and Dirndl
 
In recent years the tradition of wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl in Germany (also known as "Tracht") has experienced a sort of modern day revival. What originated as the garb of the working peasantry of the 18th Century, the Lederhosen as well as the Dirndl has undergone many evolutions along the way. We at Bavarian Specialties are working hard to bring the fresh, new stylings of the contemporary "Tracht" to the United States, keeping all the old traditions alive and well, but with a more vibrant look.

The Lederhosen, which are said to have emerged in the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria, were the trousers of the working peasant community - they were sturdy and held up to the rigorous work of the time. However, leather trousers were actually worn in many regions of Europe by riders and also hunters. But it was in the south of Germany or "Bavaria" that a unique style developed - a pair of leather trousers with a front drop "flap". This style became quite popular and in France the style was dubbed "a la bavaroise" or "Bavarian style". During the Rococo period of the 18th Century it was also fashionable for the courtly society to emulate the simple life of the peasants, and hence, the style also took hold in the nobility. While the peasantry wore both short Lederhosen and longer styled "Kniebundhosen" made of goat or sheepskin that was dyed black, the nobles, who were often adept hunters, chose to make their Lederhosen of deerskins - a much softer and higher grade of leather. These were then richly decorated to symbolize their nobility.

Part of the uniqueness of Lederhosen can also be attributed to their intricate embroidery that is found both on the trousers as well as on the suspenders. Oftentimes the embroidery signified a certain region of the country and people began to attribute a regional pride in wearing their Lederhosen. In fact, in many of the small villages the regional "Tracht" was taken very seriously and one often owned several pair of Lederhosen for different occasions - for everyday work as well as for very festive occasions such as a wedding. While these traditions have lasted even into the modern day in some areas, most of today's Lederhosen have been replaced by blue jeans for everyday life and work and Lederhosen are now worn mostly at cultural events or festivals, such as the Oktoberfest or "Kirchweih" as well as to a Biergarten.

During the onslaught of blue jeans across the earth (which ironically were also invented by a Bavarian named Levi Strauss who emigrated to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush) the Lederhosen lost their popularity in everyday life, especially among younger generations. However, in recent years there has been a new interest in this traditional garb, and people of all ages are again wearing them to the festivals. The Lederhosen now come in short and long styles, and in many leathers along many price ranges. One can expect to pay about $250 for a basic pair made of durable goat leather. They typically come in black and brown leathers, but other colors are also available: khaki, gray, and even red for younger boys! However, more expensive Lederhosen are also still available in deerskin and come with intricately designed embroidery and can cost up to $1,000!

    * Short Lederhosen with "H-Style" Suspenders - in black, brown,
      dark brown and khaki colors.
    * Kniebundhosen with "H-Style" Suspenders.
    * Schuhplattler Lederhosen - black with special embroidery.
    * Customized Lederhosen and Bundhosen for clubs, organizations,
      restaurants and businesses also available upon request.
    * Lederhosen for boys and kids ages 1-15 years also available in many colors.

The Dirndl, or female dress of "Tracht", also emerged in the 18th century as a servant's or maid's dress. This simple dress generally consisted of a blouse, bodice, full skirt and an apron and it was practically suited for a woman's work around the home or a farm at the time. Women typically wore slightly different styles and fabrics in the winter and in the summer. The winter dirndl was often a full dress with long sleeves, made of heavy cotton, linen or wool with warm skirts and aprons. In contrast, the summer dirndl was made of lightweight cotton and short-sleeved blouses were worn under sleeveless, tailored bodices.

Just as the Lederhosen experienced a fashion trend among the nobility, the dirndl was also adopted into the upper echelons of society in the late 1800's, around 1870. Suddenly, the simple dresses made of practical fabrics, were transformed into very stylish, colorful dresses often made of silk, satin and other expensive fabrics. They then also evolved into dresses worn for regional pride and tradition, with each region taking on distinct differences in colors and style.

Today's dirndl, while still sporting the basic elements of a blouse, tailored bodice, full skirt and apron, now ranges in style from the soft and simple, to very vibrant styles exquisitely crafted with rich fabrics and embellished with intricate embroidery. While they are not necessarily worn as an everyday dress anymore, many women still wear them for traditional cultural events or formal occasions, such as a wedding, or to show their regional pride. In recent years, the dirndl has also gained in popularity among the younger crowds. Younger women today often enjoy wearing shorter, flirtier and more revealing versions than in years past. Other women also opt for a style of dress called "Landhausmode", which are dirndl-like dresses and skirts, but a more casual style than its traditional counterpart. The best place to see the varying contrasts in styles among dirndls would be at the Munich Oktoberfest, where young and old, traditional and modern all converge to participate in what is most likely the largest gathering of folklore in southern Bavaria.

    * Summer Dirndls available in mini, midi and long skirt lengths.
    * Fall/Winter Dirndls also available in heavier fabrics.
    * "Landhausmode" style dresses or 2-piece skirt combinations.
    * Children's Dirndls available for girls of ages 1-15 years.
    * Customized Commercial Dirndls for your restaurant
      or business also available upon request.