Germany: Sonthofen, Oberallgäu, Bavaria

celtic b-black white-01Sonthofen is the most southerly town in Germany. It is located in the Oberallgäu region of the Bavarian Alps.


Like so many other traditional costumes, the original Sonthofen Trachten died out in the 19th century. Afterwards at the end of the 19th century, the traditional costume movement supported by King Ludwig II of Bavaria brought the old Bavarian mountain costume style to the Allgäu region. As the original Sonthofen costume was no longer available and ca. 100 years had passed, it was decided to develop a costume based on old patterns but adapted to modern times. This led to the folklore group in Sonthofen (Der Heimatdienst) designing their own traditional costume in 1952. It was ensured that each woman could use whichever colours suited her, to prevent excessive uniformity. The resulting Sonthofer Tracht was well received due to its attractive characteristics.

Women’s costume

The women’s costumes are made of valuable materials such as wool, brocade and silk in the colours, red, copper, warm brown, violet and wine red. The skirt and apron can have one of two lengths: to the ground for festivals such as weddings, processions and such like; otherwise the skirt is mid-calf length. At the waist, the skirt is basted three times per hand and three narrow seams are quilted above the hem with a couple of centimetres between them. The skirt is ca. 3 metres wide. The bodice is made of the same materials as the skirt and is embroidered with metal thread or brocade. It should fit perfectly to the body. The bodice has gold braid inserts. Four silver hooks are sewn in each of the darts in the breast of the bodice so that a silver chain can be laced through them. The apron should complement the skirt and bodice material. The ties should be tied at the front. The blouse is made of natural fibres such as linen. In summer it can be short sleeved, otherwise ¾ sleeved. The jacket is made of wadded material quilted in a diamond pattern. It is closed at the front with a hooks and has a small stand-up collar. The upper part of the sleeves should be slightly gathered. The bonnet is embroidered like the bodice. On festive occasions, a halo hat (Radhaube) or Reginele can be worn. The costume is competed by a small bag for necessities and a Trachten umbrella for rain or shine.


Men’s costume

The men’s suit is made of special dark grey and wine red Trachten material (Trachtenkerntuch). The trousers do not have a cuff and have a normal leg width. These are worn for festive occasions. Otherwise leather breeches are preferred. The jacket has a slightly narrowed waistline. The waist of the jacket is held with an almost invisible internal brace. It has two thin bands of quilting roughly 2 cm from the edges of the jacket. This type of quilted band is sewn 9 cm from the lower edge of the sleeves. The bevel-edged stand-up collar and the two slanted pockets with flaps are characteristic for the Sonthofen jacket. The 2-cm space at the centre front allows the wine red waistcoat with its 16 silver buttons to be seen. The waistcoat is especially characteristic as it has four braid pockets and the bow-shaped neck. The back of the waistcoat in contrast to other Trachten is not made of lining material but of the same material as the front. A small black band is worn under the shirt collar rather like a tie completes the Trachten.




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