Lederhosen: Conventions


Figure 1.-- Lederhosen are most associated with Germany. Boys in many European Scout and other youth groups sometimes wore lederhosen. They are less common in the 1990s, but have not disappeared.

Lederhosen were commonly worn as casual wears or for hiking and other outdoor wear as they were so hard wearing. Small boys may wear them for play. Lederhosen were not intially boys wear, but rather adult work trousers. Today they are increasingly worn by boys or adults participating in folk festivals. The popularity of lederhosen, however, declined in the 1960s as German boys, like other European boys, increasingly wore jeans. Lederhosen were also sometimes worn with a tie and jacket for a dressy, but folk look. This is rarely seen today, although some boys might wear the knickers (kniebundlederhosen) with a tie and jacket. Currently they are most commonly worn at folk festivals and other such events.

Work Pants

Lederhosen were not intially boys wear, but rather adult work trousers. They were widely worn in rural areas by farmers because of their hard wearing qualities. The first such garments were knicker-length pants.

Hiking

Lederhosen were commonly worn as casual wears or for hiking and other outdoor wear as they were so hard wearing. One did not have to worry about tearing one's pants on brambles when wearing lederhosen. They were very popular during the first jalf of the 20th century, although they were more common in Bavaria than other areas of Germany. The popularity of lederhosen, however, declined in the 1960s as German boys, like other European boys, increasingly wore jeans.

Youth Organizations

Lederhosen were ideal for camping and thus proved popular with youth groups like the Wandervogel, Scouts, Hitler Youth, and others. Not only was their rugged construction advantageous, but the boy on a camping trip did not have to worry about laundry are takibng a spare pair of trousers. Unlike other pants, youth groups did npt generally designate lederhosen as the official group uniform trousers. The general pattern was rather that lederhosen were an option that a boy could chose to wear rather than the regular uniform trousers.

School Uniform

HBC knows of few schools that adopted lederhosen as school uniform. But few German and Austrian schools had uniforms. They were wiudely worn to school as ordinary dress by boys in Austria and Germany.


Figure 2.-- Lederhosen were a vert paractical play garment. They can be worn very large to allow for growing into, their durability makes them suitable for handing down and shorts can be matched with a variety of braces. The lederhosen pictured are several sizes too large, the waist of the shorts coming up too high and the fall front is very wide. Buttoning the fall front to the buttons of the halter has reduced the waist of the shorts. The leather of the shorts can be seen to be well worn and soiled. The braces have come from another pair and are almost too short, the adjustment in the buckles having run out. Such an outfit must have been quite heavy and cumbersome.

Play

Small boys may wear them for play. They are in fact an ideal play garment. The strong construction of lederhosen means that their wearers do not have to worry about rough and tumble of play, they are resistant to tearing and damage. No boy in lederhosen is likely to come home with torn or ripped tousers. This means that boys do not have to be concerned about ruining his clothes. Today that may not be a major concern, but in the early 20th century when many German families lived in more modest circumstances, thus was a major concerm. The most vulnerable part of the lederhosen was the halter. But even thec halter could take an enormous amount of rough play. Here the playmate is pulling hard on the braces of his friend's lederhosen, pulling up the shorts against the straps that hold the buttons on. The braces are likely to get pulled hard in play, as they are so easy to grab. The low maintenance requirements of lederhosen also made them advantageous to mothers before German families washing machines.

Folk Costume

Today lederhosen in the popular mind are increasingly seen as folk costuming. In many countries such as the United States the only time one sees lederhosen is at German ethnic events such as October Fests. In Germany and other Alpine countries they are increasingly worn by boys or adults participating in folk festivals. Currently they are most commonly worn at folk festivals and other such events. Boys are much less likely to wear lederhosen for play, but may wear them at a folk costume. Lederhosen are not new as a folk costume. HBC has noted them being worn as folk costuming in the early 20th century. What is different now is that earlier they were also worn for other purposes as well. Today folk costuming is becoming the primary use for lederhosen.

Dress Wear

Lederhosen were also sometimes worn with a tie and jacket for a dressy, but folk look. This is rarely seen today, although some boys might wear the knickers (kniebundlederhosen) with a tie and jacket.






Christopher Wagner






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Created: July 31, 2001
Last updated: September 7, 2001