Dirndl vs. Lederhosn (thoughts on traditional Bavarian dress from an American living in Mecklenburg-Vormpommern)

How’s that for a disclaimer on the title? In any case, my musings started when I was in the real (a Target-like super-store) about a month ago, saw a display of Oktoberfest wear, and was surprised to see that the selection included women’s pants.

“How egalitarian!” I thought. “Good job, Germany!”

Later, when I found myself in Munich for a work trip during the start of Oktoberfest, I was reminded that Greifswald is both physically and culturally fairly far removed from Bavaria.

Traditional Tracht is still extremely gendered, as exhibited by this guide of what to wear to Oktoberfest. The news (tabloid) magazine Focus has a chest shot with the caption, “Dirndls accentuate the female charms particularly well.” (“Dirndl betonen die weiblichen Reize besonders gut.”)

Nevertheless, the official Munich website for the event does have on the front page of its photo section a link to a gallery full of women in Lederhosen, accompanied by the caption, “Lederhosen instead of Dirndl: The leather shorts are only for boys with tight calves? As if!” (“Lederhosn statt Dirndl: Die Krachlederne ist nur was für Burschen mit strammen Wadeln? Von wegen!”)

The gallery itself is from 2009 and doesn’t seem to be working consistently, although the photos are still there, along with the caption, “Whether in combination with a classic checked blouse or a saucy dirndl top, the lederhosen is in no way inferior to the dirndl when it comes to versatility. Of course, she is also perfect for the partner look with matching man in traditional costume.” (“Ob in Kombination mit klassischer Karobluse, kessem Dirndl-Oberteil – die Lederhosn steht dem Dirndl in Sachen Vielseitigkeit in nichts nach. Perfekt geeignet ist sie natürlich auch für den Partnerlook mit passendem Mann in Tracht.”) In case you, too, want to check otu the photos, here they are:

Furthermore, the page on Octoberfest fashion (Wiesnmode) includes the section “Burschen (und Madln) in Lederhosn”. Two of the women from the previous gallery made it into this “best of” collection.

But in Germany, as in the U.S., men in women’s clothing tends to be seen as intensely abnormal. Does that say more about society’s view of men (who are more constrained in their gender role than women) or women (whose traditional role is so objectively undesirable that it seems ridiculous that anyone would want to explore it willingly)?

7 October 2013

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.