Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Loferls: How to wear them properly

Loferls are a must for trendy men

If you think loferls can be compared with normal socks then you clearly haven’t understood Oktoberfest and traditional Bavarian costume. Loferls are ‘calf warmers’, they’re not worn on the feet, but on the lower leg only, giving them an unrivalled look. In Bavaria, they are a must with short lederhosen.

Knee-deep in Oktoberfest fun. How to wear loferls

Loferls also go by the name of ‘stutzn’ or ‘beinhösl’ and are worn below the knee, on the strongest part of the calf. You usually don’t wear them with socks, but sock liners which are hidden inside your shoes are often included in a set. Originally, loferls were worn without any socks at all, which may not be to every man’s taste, particularly on cooler days. There is one rule to remember: You should be able to see the skin between the calf and the foot. The traditional costume should determine the color and design of your loferls, so that everything is ultimately coordinated. They are available in every conceivable style, meaning everyone is guaranteed to find a model to suit them.

Loferl rules: what to avoid

The golden rule is self-explanatory, but as those of us who have already been to Oktoberfest know, there is no limit as to what can be considered ‘fashion’ at this annual festival. Loferls should under no circumstances be worn with anything other than traditional shoes, i.e. haferl shoes. Sports shoes, sandals or a trendy pair of sneakers are no alternative to traditional footwear if you are in any way serious about your traditional costume. As described above, visible socks should also be avoided. Teaming your loferls with tennis socks falls under the category of ‘fashion fail’, akin to combining short-sleeved shirts with a traditional costume. Caution: your pants should not be turned or rolled up.

Useful info about loferls

Loferls are widespread throughout Alpine regions and at the foothills of the Alps, whereas further north they are only seen at Karneval. Originally, they were made from spun lamb’s wool in ecru. For women — yes, women too wear loferls — it was customary to use particularly fine lamb’s wool. It is said that loferls originated in an era when not everyone could afford a pair of shoes. At least stutzn could be worn to protect the legs from cold weather. To that end, the original socks were longer than those found today, spanning from the knee to the ankle. That was also considered a plus as naked skin, even if it only applied to a man’s leg, was not as acceptable as it is today, especially when it came to occasions such as attending church. The separation of the leg section (loferl) and the foot (sock liner) also led to a fatter wallet. If the foot section was severely worn and could no longer be darned, the leg section could still be used and replaced by new sock liners only.

Where does the word loferl come from?

The origins of the term loferl are still disputed to this day. Some believe that it comes from the old word ‘lof’ or ‘loft’, which describes the shape of bark. Others are certain that the word ‘loferl’ comes from ‘laufen’, the German for ‘to walk/run’, which some Bavarian communities pronounce as ‘loffa’.