Boys wearing Lederhosen through the 1940s usually wore the halter with them. The one notable exception was Hitler Youth boys. HBC had thought that age was a factor, but a HBC reader insists that tradition is a more important factor. Another reader tells us that age indeed was a factor, especially after World War II. We suspect that traditiion was less of a factor after the War. Some Lederhosen are made without halters and are worn with belts. Normally the halter was compsed of two over the shoulder narrow straps that crossed at the back. Buttons conected the halter to the shorts at front an back. In the front the shoulder straps were connected with cross pices of different sizes and shapes, usually oval. The straps had clasps which could adjust the length for proper fit as the boy got older. The cross pieces were decorated with Alpine symbols like dear and flowers (always the Alpine Edelweiss). This flower of course was made famous by the Hollywood movie production 'The Sound of Music' which had a lovely song devoted to it.
One of the most easily recognised characteristics of boys' lederhosen is the halter or braces. These are made of leather straps that button onto the waist. The have a crossbar and adjustment buckles to allow adjustment for length. Halters have a variety of buckle arrangements. There is normally a loop to contain the loose end of the strap, which can be made of metal or leather. Normally the halter was compsed of two over the shoulder narrow straps that crossed at the back. The halter was detachable. Buttons conected the halter to the shorts at front an back. In the front the shoulder straps were connected with cross pices of different sizes and shapes, usually oval. The straps had clasps which could adjust the length for proper fit as the boy got older. A reader tells us, "To prevent slipping the halter from the shoulders the straps of the braces at the back, at the place where they crossed, could be kept together with a special small buckle. This is not so apparent in the photograpohic record as photographs are usuall shot of the front. Sometimes the straps were sewn together on the spot, but this of course had the disadvantage that the whole was too inflexible when you need to adjust the halters because the boy was growing or getting fatter."
The halter arrangement on lederhosen is called " Lederhosen - Hosenträger ". All kind of halters are called Hosenträge . The lederhosen haltar in Bavaria and Austria it is called " Auszier ". Another term is " Stickereimotiv ". It is important to call it " Stickerei " or " Bestickung ", because that means that it was made by hand (recognizable by the fact that the leather has not been punched through). The crossbar is called " Quersteg " or " Quersattel ".
The halters for boys' lederhosen seem to come in two types, the first is where the leather is quite thin and flexible allowing for easy movement. They are normally made from a single thickness of leather. In the second type the leather is quite substantial and stiff, the cross bar is almost rigid, the leather is backed either with thick felt or thinner leather. It is not clear which is the better type of halter. Presumably the stiffer braces tend to stay in place, when sitting and do not fall off quite so easily. The more flexible braces are probably more comfortable but more prone to coming off. Personal experience would suggest that the wearer quickly gets used to the weight and feel of wearing lederhosen with a stiff halter. A reader adds, "Yes, I can state that the stiff, heavier variant stays better in place, and that, although in the beginning the boy had to adjust to the pressure (as to that of the halter as a whole), you after a bit of time get used to wearing them.
There in fact even did exist a third type of halter, that for an outsider looked quite the same as the stiff one, but made it even thicker. Some halters did possess in the middle of the oval on the backside (so pressing against the chest of the wearer) a hidden pocket for a bit of money, closed with a small zip on the upperside (badly visible thanks to the frayed edges of the felt lining at the back). I don’t know how rare they were; I have only seen it once. I think this was more for modern adult Lederhosen fthan the Lederhose worn by boys in the 20th century."
One very annoying feature of some halters if not properly fitted is that the brace strap may slipfrom the shoulder. Some boys have to constantly flip the errant strap back onto their shoulders. Sometimes the braces come right off the shoulder. To prevent slipping it is important that the braces will cross the shoulders rather in the middle near to the neck. To help keep them there, there are three things that matter. Manufacturers for boyswear had to settle on average standard measurements. In the first place, the width and the placement of the halter cross-bar on the front is important The higher it is placed and the shorter it is, the more it will prevent slipping. As for a good look the halter has to possess the form of a H (both straps taken as a couple together not making a X or a O) this means that the length of the cross-bar should be the same as the distance between the two buttons on both sides of the buttoned-up-fall-front on the Lederhose itself, to which the far ends of the straps of the braces are attached. This means that the fall-front itself can’t be too wide on its upper side, because otherwise the H would become too wide also, and the straps would be placed too far apart on the shoulders. More about the width and form of the fall front later, in its own chapter. Secondly, to keep the straps on the back in place use the buckle. Thirdly, the risk of slipping of the braces would be further diminished if the back buttons for attaching them were placed further apart (they mostly were rather near to eachother, much nearer than in the front, where they had to make room for the buttoned up fall flapp in between), because this means that the just mentioned buckle buckle of measurement no.2 can be placed higher up without disturbing the straight X the straps should form on the back.
Virtually all the historical photographs we have noted of Lederhosen show the boys wearing their pants with halters. Boys wearing Lederhosen through the 1940s usually wore the halter with them. The one exception as noted below were youth groups like the Hitler Youth. And we note older boys especially by the 1950s not wearing the halters.
The one notable exception to boys wearing halters with their Lederhosen before World War II (1939-45) was the Hitler Youth boys. The proper summer uniform for the most bpart was black corduroy short pants, but some boys wore Lederhosen. After the War this convention continued with other youth groups. HBC has noted that most Scouts who wore Lederhosen after the War wore them without halters, chosing to wear belts instead. Athough some boys in the younger Cub group mught wear the halter with theiur uniform.
HBC had thought that age was a factor as to if boys wore their Ledehosen with or without halters. This may a factor why older boys after World War II often wore Lederhosen for Scouting. We though that they might not like the folk look or associated halters with younger boys. Here we have received different opinions from our German readers. But it undeniable in the photographic record that older boys, especially after World War II stopped wearing the haters. We oinly see younger boys wearing them except for special occassions. We think the differences may br partially explained by different attitudes during different time periods. We think tradition was important in the pre-World War II period. But after the War and the onset of the German Economic Miracle that boys began to have more ideas about there clothes and what was trendy. And parents were more willing to listen to their sons and try to get ghgem the styles they wanted. This was especially true for the older boys. As German boys began wearing short pants less commonly in the late 20th century we see far fewer Lederhosen. But when we do see them, we begin to see more halters as they were often being worn for traditional Folkish events.
A HBC reader believes that tradition is a an important factor as whether boys wear halter with their Lederhosen. He indicates that the more traditonal trachten/lederhosen are worn with halters in Bavaria and Austria where lederhosen originated and was most popular. Much of our German archive does not specify where the photograophs were taken, but itvis likely that a substabtial oportion of the boys see wearing Lederhosen were from Bavatia or the neighboring states of southern Germsny. We suspect that tradition may have been an important factor before World War II or even the NAZI era (because of the imprtance of the Hitler Youth). After the War, age seems to be very much a factor and tradition much less of a factor. This can be very easily seen in the photographic record. Not only do most teenager stop wearing the halter, but we see older grade school boys not weating the halter as well. This eems to change again. By this time Grerman boys are no mlonger commonly wearing short oants, except perhaps during hot summer days. And Lederhosen is more of a tracht garment worn for specual occassiins and festiuvals, most commonly in Bavaria where the traditiin was stongest to begin with.
Some lederhosen are made without halters and are worn with belts. Lederhosen are made to be worn with a often decorative halter that holds them up. Most folk costumes have highly decorative halters. Younger boys wearing lederhosen almost always wear halters. We have noticed that older boys, especially Scouts, tend to wear their lederhosen without the halter. Often older boys wear lederhosen without a halter, but with a belt. Some boys wear their lederhosen without a halter or belt. We have noted, however, many boys wearing their lederhosen with a belt. We are not sure just what the purpose of this is. Many lederhosen do not normally come with belt loops so the belt appears largely ornamental as it does not hold up the lederhosen. Lederhosen with double zips normally come wity belt loops. The belt may have some practical purposes, especially for Scouting as a variety of items can be attached to the belt. This would make it handy for hiking and camping even if it was not attached to the lederhosen pants.
Some lederhosen are made with an attached bib rather than a detachable halter. The bib is usually made of the same quality and color leather as the shorts. The straps are attached to the top of the bib with
buckles. There is no quick release buckle as with a pair of dungarees. The wearer has to slip the straps off the shoulders or undo the buckles.
There were both plain and decorated halters. We see large numbers of both. We do not know what the boys felt about the decorations or if there were age preferences. Patterns here may emerge as we develop this topic. The decoration of Lederhosen halters varied significantly. This is a little difficult to assess from the photographic record. Some of the decoration do not show up well in photographs unles they are closeups. This is because the decoration were often tooled ether without any color. Commonly the cross pieces were decorated with Alpine symbols like dear or probably more accurately a stag and flowers. We are not sure why these two were so common. The dear presumably relates to hunting. We are less sure about flowers, except that they are pertty, but this of course is not commonly a consideration for boys clothing. Perhaps it relates to Alpine medows. The cross bar may be embossed with scenes of deer often this is replaced with a replica (plastic) carved bone medallion showing a similar scene. We do not yet have a complere list of the symbols used, but hope to develop this over time.
Halters are made of two primary components, the cross bar and braces. There can be substantial differences between these components. They can very in size, primarily the with. The braces can vary in length and there are differences in the buckles and button attachments. The crossbar is even more varied and there are differences in shape and design. There are some other components, such as diagonal supports, but these are not common.
The author has seen a variation of the halter where the space between the cross bar and the waist is a panel of leather. The bottom of which has four buttonholes so
that it may be attached to the two buttons for the halter and the two buttons for the flap, but behind the flap. Some crossbars have a zip running along the top so that it may be used as a purse.
We do not yet have a separate German page for Lederhosen halters. Almost all of the images we have found for our general Lederhosen page are German. And the information developed is primarily about Germany. We do not know of any differences pertaining to the halters differentiating the various countries such as Germany nd Austria where Lederhosen were worn. So until we learn of such duifferences, we will just build ine general Lederhosen haltr page. If readers know of any country differences we would be interested in hearing from you.
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