Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tracht - journal entry from 23 Sep, 2013

Nearly my entire morning and early afternoon has been pleasantly spent searching the internet for images of German Tracht (traditional folk costume).  One website in particular has been wonderful for images of mid to late 19th cen traditional costume, containing scans of a huge number of 19th and early 20th century postcards. In looking for images from the early 19th century however, I've mostly relied on google and pinterest searches; searching for 1819 Tracht, 1820 Tracht, etc... fortunately there's not a lot of overlap in search results, and there are several very interesting prints from nearly every year which pop up.  Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a single site where images of early 19th cen Tracht are conveniently compiled... perhaps that's something I should consider doing myself...

Some of the highlights from today's search:

Town woman and farm girl from Augsburg - 1820

Trachten aus Kammern und Kallwang, Aquarell um 1820 Matthäus Loder
Traditional clothing from Kammern and Kallwang in 1820

Bayerische national Trachten - Nürnberg, Renner, und Schuster um 1820
Bavarian national clothing in 1820

It's really interesting how even though this print is dated to 1820, the clothing is very strongly 18th century in style.  In the mens' clothing the short waistcoats and standing collars on the coats are indicitive of the early 19th century, but cocked hats and knee breeches had fallen out of fashion years prior.  The woman's outfit is obviously Tracht instead of 'fashionable' wear, but the cut of her jacket is also rather reminiscent of the 18th century.

Later images show a more fossilized and highly regionalized fashion:

Bayerische Volkstrachten - Unterfranken und Aschaffenburg, Uettingen
Bavarian folk costume

Hessische Trachten, Mädchengruppe, Sonntagskleider
Hessian traditional clothing, group of girls in Sunday dresses

 Niedersächsische Braut, Kleid mit Perlenhut
Bride from Lower Saxony, dress with beaded/pearled hat

Volkstracht aus dem Elzthal
Folk costume from Elzthal

This last one is super interesting, as the woman on the left is wearing a dress which is obviously modelled on 18th century clothing, as is the straw hat which the woman on the right is wearing.  Since this is an early 20th cen postcard featuring Bayerische Volkstrachten (Bavarian Folk Costume), I can't help but wonder if it is presenting the tradional clothing from two different eras... just shown side by side. 

If anyone has recommendations for good books or websites on the subject, please let me know!  I'm only just starting to study this particular area, and am still trying to figure out the best sources of information.


  1. These images are neat, and while regional rather than fashionable they're still beautiful and inspiring.


    1. Aren't they awesome! And some that I've run across are just so bizarre...

  2. I don't know if Swiss Costume is any help for you? I made myself an 1810 approach of the Costume Vaudois this Spring, and gathered whatever I could find of pictures from the time Period (Mostly painters and engravers as Koenig, Lory Père, and Lory Fils, and Toepffer).
    You might wish to check for Genre-Painting, e.g. "Hunt" or "Harvest" or "Travelling" (e.g. Landscape with some pictoresque peasants or a city square with servants in their traditional dress)

    In case this would help you:

    1. Thanks for the link and tips! I don't know if I'll directly use Swiss costume as a source of reference, but it's still really valuable to know about since there's so little information on traditional costume readily available for that period. Swiss (and Austrian) styles are both definitely worth looking at!

    2. Switzerland already started to become some point of interest - mostly because of the picturesque peasants, e.g. Anna Feodorowna (the Russian Grand-duchess) took her guests to Interlaken, to show of the "peasants in their pretty dresses", her mother (Saxon-Coburg) noted that "there are a few things as nice to see as a young Bernese girl in her traditional costume of black and white")

      Koenig, the Lory and others catered to the need of these early tourists to show off these pictures at home (think of it as the souvenir-doll in the 1960ies). Niklaus König published a collection of his prints as in 1801 and again in 1811. A reprint of the 1820's edition (gravures of the earlier editions) can be found for quite reasonable sums (about 15£ / 20EUR) on ZVAB

      Some visitors also stated their disappointment that in some areas the servants were dresses as "at home" - in other words, according to new fashion. So Koenig noted in his descriptions some of the material, but also particularities, e.g. that the Costume Vaudois was worn with "City shoes" - flat pointy open shoes.

  3. The last image does not seem to be Bavarian at all. One has to be careful with post cards because the printers often did not feel any need to be particularly accurate. The woman on the left in blue is wearing what looks like a costume from Lorraine, and the woman on the right is wearing an Austrian costume from Upper Austria. [Oberoesterreich]. Austria has many very beautiful costumes. One rather easily obtainable book is 'Das Grosse Buch der Volkstrachten' or just [Volkstrachten] by Albert Kretschmer By the way, the woman on the right is NOT wearing a straw hat. that is the Goldkappe typical of Linz and Upper Austria. It is a cone with a fan attached vertically in back, both of which are covered with gold embroidery. If you wish you can see my blog '' although I have as of yet done little on German or Austrian folk costumes, but I intend to get there. Good luck on your work. I have not seen pages where trachten are assembled by decade, and most sources on folk costume do not delineate the development that closely, usually just noting the approximate time of major changes or developments in a particular costume.