History of the Lederhosen

Wearing “leather breeches” or Lederhosen is an 18th-century traditional garb that peasants of northern Germany and Austria wore to hold up to the harsh work that the men of the time endured. Across Europe, people wore the lederhosen to protect their thighs while riding or hunting, but the image of the lederhosen has always, since that time, been associated with Germany and Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest, a beer festival held in Munich, Germany every Autumn, is the most famous yearly event in Germany. A strong tradition in Bavarian culture, Oktoberfest brings the people of Germany and internationally together for the world’s largest “folk fair.” It’s been 186 years of drinking, dancing, and being merry since the first Oktoberfest that celebrated the nuptials of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. With 7 million litres of beer being guzzled down each year, it’s definitely a favourite when planning an event this Autumn. You can checkout the official website for the Munich Oktoberfest here. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to make Munich itself there is very likely to be an Oktoberfest near you – this website can help find an Oktoberfest anywhere in North America!

Do Girls Wear Lederhosen?

Traditionally, it was the men who worked out in the rough conditions and therefore wore Lederhosen. Women, on the other hand, wore an outfit called Dirndl – you’ve seen it, the colorful apron with the tight bodice. These dresses were the fashion in Germany, Austria, and other parts of Europe at the time when the first Oktoberfest was held.

Do You Dress Up For Oktoberfest?

Although dressing up isn’t mandatory, it will definitely bring the spirit of Oktoberfest to your event this Autumn. In fact, without a costume, you could be seen by a third party as just a drinker eating sausage. Whether you’re a Bavarian by blood or just by beer, it’s a great experience seeing so many people dressed up in their lederhosen and Dirndl.

Bearded Bavarian Piggyback Costume
Bearded Bavarian Piggyback Costume
Men's Lederhosen Costume
Men’s Lederhosen Costume
Women's Dirndl Costume
Women’s Dirndl Costume

What is the Female Version of Lederhosen?

The female version of lederhosen is the traditional full dress and apron (Dirndl) that was worn by maids and housekeepers, the typical woman’s occupation, of the 18th century. In the later part of the century, the higher class citizens and nobility recognized the amazing fashion sense of the men and women in the working class and brought a more expensive, luxurious version of both the lederhosen and dirndl to popularity.
During Oktoberfest, it is not rare to find a woman wearing a lederhosen garb. Many shops have geared the fashion towards women, who also love taking part in the style – for example our Women’s Lederhosen Costume.

Who Wore Lederhosen?

Lederhosen is most recognizably worn by bavarian workers during the 18th century as well as boys and young men, who also brought the lederhosen to a fashion height during the 1930s-1970s. When work conditions were rough, the leather of the lederhosen protected peasants skin. When it was later brought into fashion as a modern piece of clothing, the lederhosen became just a pair of “over-all” style shorts over a plaid shirt.

Whether you choose to wear a more traditional version of the lederhosen or take a fun twist on the Oktoberfest legend (Exhibit A, the Bearded Bavarian Piggyback), we wish you Glück in your dancing and drinking.

Happy Oktoberfest no matter what month it is!

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