** German lederhosen conventions

German Boys Lederhosen Conventions

Figure 1.--After World War II we note a lot of family snapshots of German boys wearing Lederhosen as casual clothing. This snapshot was probably taken in the 1950s.

Lederhosen were not initially, nor have they ever been an exclusively boys' garment. The garment was at first conceived as work attire and then became seen as folk dress. In the early 20th century two developments affected the popularity of lederhosen. Youth groups began to form. The most popular was the Wandervogel. While many Wandervogel wore corduroy shorts--lederhosen were also worn. Lederhosen were both practical and appealed to the Wandervogel interest in folk culture. The Wanndervogel was primarily for older boys. Other youth groups formed, such as the Scouts. Some of the boys wore lederhosen--although they were not the official uniform. Once Lederhosen became an accepted folk dress then they were adopted by ultra-nationalists. It was probably at this time that some younger German boys began wearing lederhosen. Until then they have a rather rough outdoor image that were more suiable for men and older boys. They become more associated with boys aftter World War II. We see many impages of German boys, and not just in Bavaria, wearing Lederhosen as casual clothes after the War in the 1940s-60s. With the popularity of jeans they again began to seen more as folk dress.

Folk Costume

By the late 19th and early 20th century they had become Bavarian folk costume. Lederhosen became well established as folk wear during the 20th century. At first they were considered primarily Bavarian wear. Groups like Wandervogel, however, hrlped to spread lederhosen to other parts of Germany. At American German folk festivals, boys and men appear to wear lederhosen beyond a specifically Bavarian context. I'm not sure if the same is true of Germany. Few German festivals are held without men and boys wearing Ledehosen and often these Bavarian folk costumes. Boys also wear these Lederhosen folk outfits as suits to parties and church. This I believe is done mostly in Bavaria.

Youth Groups

Youth groups like Wandervogel found them wonderfully practical for hiking and camping. They were also worn by boys in other youth groups like the Scouts and Hiter Youth. Scouting had by the 1980s become one of the few activities for which German boys have contunue to wear ledehosen. By the 1980s, they declined in popularity and are now mostly worn by Scouts or for folk occassions.


Many German boys beginning in the 1920s seem to have worn lederhosen to school, but this from available images appears to have usually been a minority of the boys in most classes. We have noted lederhosen being worn earlier, but we do not begin to see a lot of boys in school photographs wearing lederhosen until the 1920s. It was pwerhaps more common in Bavaria. Often a few boys in many primary schools are wearing lederhosen by the 1920s. I'm not sure why lederhosen became more common for schoolwear at this time, but surely it had something to do with the war. Almost always boys wearing lederhosen to school wear them with the decorative halters. Wearing lederhosen varied regionally in Germany, being most common in Bavaria. Lederhosen continued to be worn to school through the 1960s, but are now not very common.

Play and Leisure Clothes

Lederhosen were also ideal play clothes. We seem many boys wearing them for outdoor activities. Many avilable images show boys wearing them while on hikes or camping trips in the country. Hiking in the country seems to have been an especially popular activity in Germany. Here we see quite a number of older boys wearing Ldeerhosen. But they were also worn for more generalized play by younger boys as well. They were particularly popular after World War II through the 1970s. Boys of all ages wore them through the 1950s, but by the 1960s older boys increasingly began wearing jeans. They began to be less commonly worn in the 1980s as fewer boys German boys wante to wear short pants and jeans became increasingly popular.

Dress Clothes

Lederhosen were, however, not just casual clothes. Many boys would wear them for dress occasions, usually with Bavarian style jackets. Some boys were dressed up in full folk attire. This differed from folk dress in that it might be worn in an area different than where the folk attire originated. Also it was worn for special occasions and was not the everyday outfit. We notice this as early as the 1910s, but it probably begun earlier. Oyher boys would wear lederhosen with a kind of suit jacket with Tyrolian styling. We are not sure yet when this style began.

Cold Weather Wear

Lederhosen were not just worn during the summer as warm weather garments. We see boys wearing Lederhosen during cool weather, both in the Spring and Summer. And the boys wear a variety of cold weather gsarments with Lederhosen. This includes coats and jackets. Here we mean the costs abnd jackets warn for warth, not the suit jackets and sports costs worn for formality. Some boys also wore long stockings with Lecerhosen for warmth. These garments were not very common, although not unusual. This was because there was a strong seasonal component associated with Lederhosen. We do not note many Germans boys wearing Lederhosen in the dead of winter.


A least one German choit, the T�lzer Knabenchor commonly performs in lederhosen. When they perform outside Germany this helps to create the impression that most German boys wear lederhosen. A German reader reports, "The T�lzer Knabenchor only wear lederhosen when they are on tour. Probably few of the choristers wear lederhosen at home or to school."


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Created: 12:05 AM 6/21/2005
Last updated: 3:50 AM 7/6/2010