Lederhosen Color


Figure 1.-- This mother has outfitted her sons in matching lederhosen. The colors are, however different. One is brown or fawn and the other is a lighter tan. These brown shades are the colors we found most common. Note the coin purses the boys wear. Notice that she also is dressed in a folk style.

Most lederhosen are made in a narrow range of natural colors meaning the actual color of the leather used. There are thus many shades of brown, tan, and grey. The actual shade is affected by the type of leather and finish type, shiny or suede leather. Almopst all the photographs we have seen show boys wearing these brown, tan, and grey shades, although with black and white Lederhosen it is somtimes difficult to detrermine color. We also notice black lederhosen, but they were less common. They required dyeing. I have seen some Lederhosen in bright colors advertized in catalogs, but they seem very rare. I have rarely seen photographs of boys actually wearing these. I suspect that they were for girls or very young boys.

Leather Types

Lederhosen come in at least a dozen colours, primarily depending on the kind of leather and the treatment it has been given. There are at least three basic kinds of leather used for Lederhosen: laponia, hirsch (deer) and spaltleder (cheapest variety, cows). Spaltleder has a rather coarse light gray surface when not treated but rapidly acquires a darker and shinier surface when extensively worn. Germans say that their lederhose becomes "speckig" literally: "like bacon", meaning greasy. Natural hirschleder has a softer and finer texture and a brownish (beige) colour.

Dyeing

Lederhosen can also be died to acquire a sleek, dark green finish. Lederhosen worn for Schuhplattler dancing have a special cut with tapered legs and are usually died black.

Different Colors

Most lederhosen are made in a narrow range of natural colors meaning the actual color of the leather used. There are thus many shades of brown, tan, and grey. The actual shade is affected by the type of leather and finish type, shiny or suede leather. Almopst all the photographs we have seen show boys wearing these brown, tan, and grey shades, although with black and white Lederhosen it is somtimes difficult to detrermine color. We also notice black lederhosen, but they were less common. They required dyeing. I have seen some Lederhosen in bright colors advertized in catalogs, but they seem very rare. I have rarely seen photographs of boys actually wearing these. I suspect that they were for girls or very young boys. A reader writes, "Red is a colour that is worn almost only by very young girls and, I guess, never by girls whose parents are native Bavarians or Austrians. These lederhosen have been (are being?) marketed by the large mail order companies and usually have other characteristics that make them a mockery in the eyes of Bavarians, like sewn-on pockets in the form of a heart."

Shiny Look

A HBC reader writes, "One thing I have noticed when travelling in Germany is that the older Lederhosen get and the more worn they are, the shinier they get. When I was living in Bavaria just after the war (WWII)--in 1946-47--I learned that it was a point of pride for men and boys to wear Lederhosen that were well broken in and not new. The original color of the leather changed over time as the leather got shinier and shiner with hard use. The tradition was a little bit like the attitude toward "white bucks"--the fashionable shoes that American college boys were all wearing in the 1950s. Brand new white shoes were not at all "cool." One had to get them as dirty and as used as possible before they became the fashionable thing to wear. German boys in the 1940s took a similar view of their Lederhosen--the older, the dirtier, and the shinier the better. Most boys wore Lederhosen shorts with the H-bar halter or suspender tops to hold them up. But a few of the older boys--those in their late teens--liked the knee-breeches style of Lederhosen which they wore with white or brightly colored knee socks. But whether shorts or knee breeches were chosen, there was an almost universal desire to wear trousers that looked old and well-worn. I think that there was also a tradition of passing down Lederhosen from father to son or from older brother to younger brother. Also I recall that some boys wore Lederhosen shorts with long cotton stockings if the weather was chilly and they were planning to be outdoors a lot or go hiking in the mountains."

Reader Question

A HBC reader asks, "When I was in Europe, most boys that I noticed wearing Lederhosen seemed to have a different color that the Lederhosen I saw in the stores. Was it common to treat a new pair of lederhosen with something to achieve this more brownish color?" I have never heard of this, perhaps our German readers will know more. I suspect that the color may have chaznged over time with wear.






HBC






Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site casual pages:
[Return to the Main lederhosen page]
[Camp shorts] [Clam diggers] [Cord shorts] [Jeans] [Jump suits] [Koveralls] [Pinafore] [Shortalls] [Smocks] [Soccer shorts]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to Main short pants page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]






Created: August 16, 2001
Last updated: 11:11 PM 10/20/2005