What is our national dress

The history of national costumes in Germany

The first folk costumes could be seen at the end of the 18th century. All over Europe, which at that time still consisted of many small and independent parts, the introduction of national costumes was discussed. With the French Revolution and the German Wars of Liberation, the idea of ​​a Volkstum became more and more present. People should identify more strongly with the country through folk clothing and strengthen their sense of the people. Regardless of capricious fashions, an entire national costume should be found that could only be worn by the inhabitants of the respective country. This attitude was particularly anti-French, because Napoleon had been beaten with difficulty in Leipzig and French rule over parts of Germany was ended.

Traditional costume as a way of locating the self and a return to old values

The old German costume was developed as the first visible sign against the Napoleonic lifestyle and French fashion. The idea of ​​a folk costume as part of folk tradition untouched by modernity served to strengthen a national identity and is experiencing a significant upswing in the 21st century. While part of the population has carried on wearing the national costume for the last 100 or 150 years as a matter of course, it is trends such as globalization and Europeanization that lead others to a return to traditional values ​​and old cultural assets.

Traditional costumes are "in fashion"

If you look at large events like the Oktoberfest in Munich, traditional clothing is absolutely acceptable today. Stars and starlets show up in dirndls and the like as well as ordinary citizens. The most famous traditional costumes come from Bavaria, but are now worn all over Germany. Whether for a special wedding or at one of the adapted Oktoberfest, which also take place in Lower Saxony or in the Ruhr area. But it is not enough for everyone to be able to wear the special clothing only for a few occasions. But do you want to walk around in the leather in everyday life? Actually, a small fashionable detail such as a traditional waistcoat is enough to feel dressed in a classic style. Of course, this also makes sense as a supplement to a hearty Oktoberfest outfit, but not only.

Traditional costumes are not only found in Bavaria

People abroad like to imagine “Germans” in lederhosen or dirndls. Of course, this falls short of the mark, but how many Germans already know what types of traditional costumes were worn in the area? At most, there is a local folk club or traditional costume club, although this - unlike in Bavaria - usually has a rather dusty image.

Of course, we no longer need traditional costumes in order to be able to show our social status, our mourning status, our economic circumstances or our belonging to a village community. On the contrary, when it comes to clothing, a certain degree of conformity is more en vogue today. Nevertheless, it is exciting to find out which national costumes were worn in one's own environment - apart from professional guild clothing and the uniforms of the riflemen. We have an overview:

Costumes by region


In Hesse, women often wore black traditional costumes with colorful applications. They are among the oldest traditional costumes in all of Germany and were particularly common in Marburg and in the Schwalm. From 1772 there was a dress code here, which stipulated that only clothing made from regional materials should be worn. The Huguenots, however, who were settled in the region as French religious refugees, brought a little more color and other materials into the typical appearance of the costumes due to their trade privileges.

Lower Saxony

Many regions in particular have developed their very own traditional costumes. In addition to the Altes Land, these include Scheeßel, Braunschweig, Schaumburg and Winsen. Each costume is something special and individually different. Black and white contrasts, floral patterns and natural colors played a particularly important role. The wedding costumes are particularly elaborate. Here the women wore headgear that was decorated with innumerable small flowers.


The typical components of the Bavarian costume are known all over the world, i.e. dirndl dress, leather pants, gilet, jacket, stockings and shoes. However, there are clear regional distinctions between the costumes of individual areas, which is less well known. Basically, it's just the details that make the difference. For example, the women from Isarwinkel wear a green velor hat with a small chamois beard and a shawl with fringes; In Berchtesgaden, on the other hand, the round “Berchtesgaden women's hat” with a cord and gold tassels is part of authentic clothing. The well-known Bavarian costume comes from Miesbach, by the way. It was created around 1900 in the course of the spread of traditional costume clubs.


There were many traditional costume areas in Brandenburg, but today hardly anyone wears the special clothing, at best for a historical event. Contemporary paintings show the women with a red wool skirt, a short white apron, a black bodice and a shirt with a frilled collar. There were eye-catching headgear stiffened with cardboard in the region. The men often wore coats that were based on uniform coats.


The only region in Germany where wearing traditional costumes is still part of everyday life is Bavaria. The traditional costume, which actually comes from Miesbach, is also worn in other regions of Germany, but only on certain occasions. In Bavaria it can still be seen sometimes in daily life, apart from events. In the other regions of Germany, traditional costumes are generally no longer of any importance.