The leader of the entire Germany had a fear that the public would ridicule him because of his knobbly knees. This is the reason why any publication of Hitler wearing Lederhosen was forbidden.
Court snapper Heinrich Hoffmann did once capture the Fuehrer in the traditional short-trousered costume of Bavaria, plunging him into a rage.
“To that end he wanted total control over his image and not to leave himself open to nakedness and ridicule. He wore his clothes from 1933 onwards as a kind of armour that made him untouchable.”
After he saw the Hoffmann print of him in Lederhosen he demanded the return of all negatives showing his “naked knees”.
Frau Sünderhauf, head of Munich’s Von Parish Costume Limbrary, is scheduled to give a talk on Wednesday evening this week in the city about her research entitled “Hitler’s Dress Code 1889 – 1945,” which is to become the basis for a book on Hitler’s fashion sense next year. Her study is the first that has been undertaken on his dress sense – a style which was of “supreme iconographic importance” during the Third Reich.
Before the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939, the day of the invasion of Poland, he went through a variety of styles of dress because, according to Frau Sünderhauf, “he wanted to do fashion.”
But after the tanks rolled across the border he ordered his valet to only prepare his field grey uniform until the end of the war.
“No matter whether he went to a diplomatic reception or to the opera, or walking the dogs wioth Eva Braun on the Obersalzberg, or visiting the front: he always showed up in a grey uniform jacket,” she said.
She until then he had gone through quite a varied, very personal “costume history”. In Vienna, where he was a struggling artist before WW1, “he could afford no new shoes and a Jewish roommate had to get him a shabby black jacket from a friendly dealer. ”
Coats seemed of particular importance to Hitler. Frau Sünderhauf said: “A coat was the first thing he bought with the legacy from his parents in 1913. Afterwards he had many coats.”
One of the first official images that Hoffmann took of Hitler was of him in a trenchcoat, designed by Burberry for British officers to wear in the trenches of the Great War.
“In comparison to the dignitaries of the Weimar Republic Hitler stood out clearly fashionable with his bright coat at the beginning of the 1920s, against all the dark-clad, older men in black suits and a detachable collar,” she said.
He favoured double-breasted jackets too because they helped “conceal the hips” of which he was also self conscious.
A couple of the Fuehrer’s lavish tailoring bills show that he may have posed as a Man of the People, and exhorted his disciples to eat one meal a day, but the reality was quigte different. A 1932 receipt for “two white vests and a couple of assorted accessories” came to the present day equivalent of 4,000 pounds.
His Charlie Chaplinesque moustache was another fashion accessory for him, said Sünderhauf, even though his press chief Ernst Hanfstaengl had warned him; “Your moustache in its current form is almost a challenge to cartoonists. In your case a van Dyck Beard would, my humble opinion, be better suited.”
Hitler also, she noted, sometimes carried around a black hippopotamus leather dog whip, presented to him by wealthy patrons, even though for ten years he didn’t own a dog.
The whip, Sünderhauf, believes was a symbol for his decision to “exorcise that which he supposed to be evil in his world.”