German Personal Experiences: Christoph and Lederhosen

Figure 1.--

Here is information about by boyhood, including my clothing and schooling. I grew up in southern Germany during the 1960s. I will provide information about boys clothing in Germany in general and the clothing I myself wore.

German Boys' Clothing in the 1960s

The variety of todays clothing and materials, suitable for all occasions, seasons and weather was not availible at the beginning of the 1960s, especially not for children. The conspicuous signs of boys clothing, conditioned by the fashion at that time and the social behavior also in relation to the decades before where short leather trousers (lederhosen) for boys. Some boys still worn them year round. Childrens clothing for both boys and girls at that time was characterized by bare knees meaking short pants and skirts and kneesocks. At that time, parents were less concerned about a child's compfort and even if a child had cold legs in the winter. It was accepted that boys did not wear long trousers before the teen years. Parents in the 1960s still insisted what children wear short pants both at home and at school. School was often very strict. Children had to be obidient and respectful. Children were not allowed to question their teachers, let alone be rude. Corporal punishment was still an accpted way of disciplining children, both at home and at school. Education was often associated with with punishmant and with the fear of punishment at home and at school. Defiance and stubbornness on the part of children was severely punished. This is no longer the case in Germany. We as boys in the early 1960s were the kast German children to wear short pants from infancy to our teenage years and this was not limited to warm summer days. This convention declined as the 1960s and especially the 1970s.

Parental Attitudes

Many parents in the past believed that a valid principle of education was, that children had to be toughened. This was one reason a boy has to wear short leather trousers (lederhosen) throughout the year. This was certainly how my parents thought. Lederhosen were seen as "boys' clothes". In the past shorts stood for toughening, youthfulness, sporting, brazenness, and health as well as proper appearance. Long trousers was the exeption and who was wearing them was seen as softie or as mummy's darling. Wearing shorts in the Winter was seen as a means of discipline, to toughen children by clothing in a Spartan way and to keep them in motion. Many adults believed that a child who was sitting inside beside the stove would become lazy. At the time mothers were not concerned about cildren' s blue knees in the cold weather. Parents proudly dressed their boys in lederhosen and other short pants. Children were a prestige object of their parents who insisted that they were dressed presentably.

Youth Groups

This attitude was also influenced by the different German youth organisations. The Wandervögel and Scouts in the eatly 20th century wore short pants. The Hitlerjugend (HJ) in which the grandparents of modern children participated also wore shorts. The "Deutsche Jungvolk (DJ) were the junior division of the HJ, boys from 10 to 14 yeats of age were required to participate. The uniform was short pants and kneesocks which some boys wore even in the winter. Accordingly for the yuong girls in "Jungmädel" a skirt with knee socks. In Bavaria short leather trousers and white knee socks were part of the uniform.


Influenced by all of this, a proper boy raised by conservative parents, especially in Bavaria, were outfitted in lederhosen whether he wanted to wear them or not. On sunday Lederhosen were always worn with white knee socks. Through the early 1960s, long trousers were rejected by parents because many believed that a proper, well brought up boy should go to school in shorts even in the winter. The refusal of many parents to buy tights and long trousers in those days, was judged by many parents as positive educational element, and was no a matter of discussion.

Other Children

It was nothing unusual in my chidhood to see school children in shorts and skirts during the summer, but also in the cold weather as well. The children at this time were used to it and were toughened, so it was not unusual for them, because it was also fashion. The nice looking of children in this fashion, hed lead undoubtly to such a attitude. Also shurely no one wanted to miss the sight and the charisma of nice child- and teenager legs. Boys in their short leather shorts and thick wool knee socks looked were seen as being smarly dressed and inspired the people with there youthfully and fresh healthy appearance.

Earlier Boys' Attitudes

Modern boys are embarassed about wearing short pants, see them as a sign of childhood. Shorts in our day were still seen as typical boyhood attire and worn as a matter of course and was not felt as shamefull, disgracefull, nor childish, but rather as a normal garment worn by boys.Some boys enjoyed wearing lederhosen and were proud of their strong, tanned legs. None of us boys would have confessed to his friends that he was cold, even though the one or the other shurely was freezing. It was a time periods when all are doing the same. No one wanted to be different. There were often competitions in those days to wear lederhosen, to see who kept wearing lederhosen the longest--even after the wearher turned cold. The winner of the competition was seen as a hero.

Conservative Parents

All of this began to change when I was a boy. Authoritarian orientated parents were not at all pleased with fashion and societal trends in the 1960s. Even though fashion were changing, they insisted that their children wear the tradtional styles.

New Fashions and Attitudes

Many children and teenagers began to look at shorts as oldfashioned and an embarassing sign of childhood. Boys with traditional parents were embarassed to have to wear short pants especially at school where other boys had begun to wear long pants. Jeans were a special issue. Many parents objected to jeans which had become very popular with both boys and girls. Many parents, however, refused to see jeans as acceptable children's clothing. It was not only the jeans themselves, it was the idea of children deviating from parental determined clothing attitudes. Many parents wanted to send their boys to school in what they thought as proper short pants. A similar struggle was going on with girls at this time. Some girls wanted to wear pants while many parents thought that dresses and skirts should be worn to school. Lederhosen and knee socks also short-sleeved shirts were seen as a sign of childhood and as a symol for school in the meaning of proper school attire. Some parents had to insist on this issue as boys if teased at school would raise the issue at home. In the school this was also a symbol in the relationship of a minor child or teenager and the adult teacher authority figures. Some teachers also thought it was a good idea to keep boys in shorts and kneesocks as a reminder of their juvenile status. As the 1960s progressed, parents who felt this way had to become increasingly insistent. I might also note that girls at this time began to wear lederhosen , often hand-me-downs, but never to school.


Lederhosen were extreemly practical clothing, which need not to be washed and which stood all aktivitees and which was nearly undistructible. Whith a clean white shirt eaven wearible on sundays, and to waer together with all kinds of pullovers. Lederhosen after the war, over many years, were the most loved clothing of all German boys from Munich to Hamburg. It qualified to the sign of childhood with agreement from all sides and their was rarely a clothing which got such a common encouragement from parents and children.

My Lederhosen

From as early back as I can remember I wore short pants. My experience with lederhosen began when I was 3 years of age was that in our neighborhood in the mid-1960s. Most boys I remember wore lederhosen. In fact as a little boy I rember wanting a pair when I saw the other boys wearing them. At the time I was wearing knitted shorts which I did not like very mich. I was jealous that the other boys, especially older boys, wore lederhosen. liked them. Also that some boys on cold winter days wore lederhosen with knee socks impressed me. From this time on I wanted to wear the same, and so my mother got me my first pair of lederhosen. On christmas I got my first pair of Lederhosen. I could hardly wait to wear them.

We boys saw Lederhosen as best when they were dirty and well wore--especially when they stood by their selves. At the time We were wearing the so called "Sepplhosen", the gray very short one with cuffs and halters. The cuffs were always turned up, so the lederhosen were often worn quite short. The sides were with leather laces whos down hanging ends with knots where dangling at the thighs by walking. The lederhosen had a fall front with button fastening. Lederhosen with zipped fastening and belt loops and belt were worn by the Scouts, which semed to be more suitable for youth groups.

With our Lederhosen we wore mostly thick wool knee socks or folk knee socks with a overturned border, who were usually quite scratchy. To this we were wearing strong walking Boots or heavy black wellingtons, because it should be practical and easy-care. Above we had short-sleeved shirts and a tank top, or long-sleeved shirts with a pullover depending on temperatures. For outside we had a anorak or the legendary Lodenjanker, which is a folk jacket for the cooler season. For really cold I had winter coats with a hood which just reached to the cuffs of the lederhosen, and was not long enough to protect my legs, because my parents told me I look so cute especially with white knee socks. Perhaps my mother felt this way. I'm sure my father felt that this would help toughen me up so that I could be trained to resist cold.

As a younger boy I enjoyed the wearing Lederhosen and was proud to wear, even them on cooler days. As I grew older I no longer wanted towear them all the time, especially in cold weather. My parents were, however insistent. The practicality of Lederhosen were another factor. Lederhose did not need to be washed and were nearly undistructible, my parents in their practical thinking thought that lederhosen were the perfect clothing for a boy--for all circumstances and all seasons. They thought this was the case both for a boy in his childhood and teen years. They told me how nice I looked in Lederhosen.

Family Rules

My father was the opinion that a boys and teenagers legs should be faced by the elements and that the concomitant discomfort during cold weather would be cited approvingly as a way of keeping a boy from going too soft. From this time on I had to wear lederhosen and knee socks nearly all the time. We had pricise rules as to what I was to wear. From the beginning of the infant time my father had the opinion that long trousers were not a suitable clothing for boys and forbaded them for me. In my tounger years, the Lederhosen were layed out on the chair by my bed to put on when I woke up in the morning. I wore them independent of the weather also by cold, snow and rain without complaining. When temperatures were over 15 C° ankle socks must be worn, when temperatures were below knee socks had to be worn. Winter in the south of Germany can be severe. The skin of the knees became rough and had to be creamed. In our area their could be frost periods, this was the only exeption to be allowed to wear a sort of tracksuit. But when the temperatures were near the freezing point in the morning, my father often insisted on wearing Lederhosen and forbaded long trousers. He ignored any protests from me and refused to discuss the issue. Wearing long trousers because of could was a shame and only allowed when the the weather became very cold and temperature below freezing.

I had to weare shorts even after I turned 16 yearsold. I notice that this was older than boys in other countries. Jaopanese boys only wore shorts until about 12 or English boys until about 13 or 14 years old. In the kindergarden I was one of few boys who wore Lederhosen nearly all the time. As a child I was very proud to wear lederhosen and I felt very brave on cold days dispite goosepimples on my legs ans blue or red knees. It was something normal for me to wear lederhosen, because as children we normaly at this time didn't wear long trousers, so it did not attract attention.As I grew older I had fun especially by cycling to feel the air.


We attended Church every Sunday. I of course wore Lederhosen for the weekly Sunday divine service and the our Sunday walk afterwards. I think my parents enjoyed showing off their well dressed son with a conservative short haircut. On Sunday I always wore my Lederhosen with wjite kneesocks, a cardigan over a white shirt and well-polished black low-cut shoes. Many parents looked apprivingly at me as a well brought up boy. Some also saw it as a toughening measure when I woire the same clothes in the colder weather--especially when other boys were wearing long trousers and winter coats, I attracted attention with lederhosen, which was seen as brave and competent by adults. Although it was not common any more to put children into lederhosen by winter weather, my father was proud to present me evan on cold days in lederhosen and white knee socks.

My Attitude

Dispite the blue knees I was not really cold, because I was used to it and tuoghened since the infant days. Especially by mooving it was no problem. As child I enjoyed wearing my lederhosen even on cooler days and to draw peoples attention to me and I enjoyed the admiring looks from addults and the sometimes furtive and jealous looks of children. It was an exciting and stimulating feeling and the cooler it was the more proud I was to wear short lederhosen.

Primary School

When I went to school I, as I explained above, also wore Lederhosen. As a younger boy when I began school this was very common. In the first school years most of the boys in my primary school wore lederhosen. This gradually declines as we got older. Only a few classmates, however, wore lederhosen nearly all the year like I did. The biggest disadvantage of Lederhosen to school was that your bare legs were exposed for a slapping by doing anything wrong. On one hand I was really proud wearing lederhosen to school on the other hand it led to problems as I got older. Times were changing the premises of fashion had changed what was hardly realised at home, as my parents were strict and traditional. In the following jears also as teenager when you was still subjected to the taste and will of my parents the joy with which I first wore Lederhosen diminished. I found myself going to school with very few of my classmates wearing Lederhosen all year round apart from the really cold days with freezing temperatures. Because of the fact, that by my parents persisted in thinking that a schoolboy should wear short Lederhosen. My father continued to forbid long trousers for school. There was no discussion allowed about it and my father could be very strict. It would upset him if I even raised the uissue.

Secondary School

Even when I was a teenager boy my parents still insisted that I wear Lederhosen to school as they thought I look nice and it would be good for me to be in Lederhosen. By thisctime I really became quite upset and embarassed to still wearing Lederhosen to school. I now stood out among my friends. Few boys came to school in Lederhosen, especially on cooler days. Often I was the only boy wearing Lederhosen. For the mostbpartbmy classmates accepted it as they were used to my wearing Lederhosen. Some asked me "do you feel comfortible?" There was some teasing, comments like "look at his nice lederhosen, his bare thighs, knee socks and wellingtons- isen`t he cute?". The older teachers approved of my clothing because it agreed with there ideas of discipline and order and was seen very positive.

I remember when I was 14 years old, I had a phase where I rebeled against shorts and at least on the colder days. I wanted to wear long trousers to school like the other boys. It was rapidly unpleasant for me to be required to go to school in lederhosen. I wasen't sucessfull with the argument. I was told "lederhosen don't harm me", "I must not go soft", "Lederhosen are healthy and good looking", I "needen't take part in all fashion shifts", "long trousers are not practical and to expensive", "boys with bare legs and bare arms are more energetic, toughened and look well". My parents said I don't need long trousers, because I did not wwar them in the past ehen it was cold. What they did not realise was that as teenager I was becoming more conscious of dressing in what was seen by my classmates as juvenile attire. I also began feel embarassed when I noticed people glanced down at my Lederhosen and bare legs.

I was conflicted. Actually I liked wearing lederhosen and found them comfortable when the weather was nice. I didn't like standing out at school and did not want to be one of the last teenagers who had to wear Lederhosen, especially on cold days. It was not very pleasant on cold days walking around all day long with cold bare goosepimpled legs and purplish-red knees, when all the other boys were waering nice warm long trousers. Thus on old days I feeled ashamed, to be nearly the only teenager in the morning at the bus stop who had to stand there with bare legs with the feeling everyone was looking at me in my lederhosen, which was worse as the biting cold. Also to be in shorts showed at this time also, that a boy had to do what parents said, depending on parents rules without any discussion in a sometimes very dictatory way. Especially when it was raining or snowing it was embarrassing for me as teenager to be one of the last boys who had to go in lederhosen and black wellingtons to school. I was ashamed the whole day to walk around like this standing the pitty looks of the people and the mocking glances of the other boys. But there was no chance to be allowed to wear long trousers.

One oproblen I think was that I looked young for my age. As I looked so youthful, I think this prevented my father from realising that Inwas growing up. S he continued to insist that I wear Lederhosen. As a result, I wore Lederhosen to school for 2 more years.


At home at free time or on holidays I mostly wore Lederhosen. On cycling tours as teenager with friends at Easter holidays from youth hostel to youth hostel trought the Bavarian forest I wore lederhosen all the time despite snow and rain we did not even have any other trousers with us. I did not mind this as the other boys also wore Lederhosen.


I was an eager Scout. Ourv Scout troop was espeiallybinterested in nature activities. There was also a graet importance given to our unifirms, especially on trios. Our Scoutmaster insisted on a full uniform. In the summer we wore a beret, blue short-sleeved shirt, short dark lederhosen with zippers and a belt, dark blue knee socks, strong walking boots, neckerchief with a leather knot (woggle). In the winter beret or wool cap, beige long-sleeved shirt, blue pullover, a anorak, short dark lederhosen with zippers and a belt, thik grey wool knee socks, mountain boots, neckerchief with a leather knot and gloves. When there was deep frost period we were allowed to wear a sort of long ski trousers.

Long Trousers

After I turned 17 years old, my parents bought longbtrousers forvme. I no longervhad to wear Ledehosen to school any more. I continued to wear them after school in my free time predominantly. As an adult I have continued wearing Lederhosen forleisure activities. At my leasure aktivitees I am wearing lederhosen. Especially for mountaineering and mountain hikes lederhosen are self-evident, because they are suitable to mountains, proper and good looking. Also by cycling and cycling tours I were lederhosen.



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing German pages:
[Return to the Main German personal experience page]
[German choirs] [German movies] [German royalty] [German school uniforms] [German youth groups]
[German sailor suits] [Lederhosen] [Ethnic] [Tights] [Long stockings] [Kneesocks]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: March 10, 2004
Last updated: March 10, 2004