Russian Boys' Clothes: Garments


Figure 1.--This clip from a popular Soviet movie (1979) shows common boys clothing during the summer, "T"-shirts worn with either jeans or short pants. Note the moderately long hair common at that time.

HBC at this time is only begining to obtain information on the garments worn by Russian boys. As in Western Europe, younger boys wore dresses, although social and economic factors significantly affected the clothes actually worn by Russian boys. We note that sailor caps, middy blouses, with kneepants and long stockings were common. The Tsarevitch's sailor suits must have helped make the style very popular, although except as a very young boy he mostly wore long pants sailor suirts. After World War I kneepants disappeared and Russian boys began wearing long pants. Short pants were also worn, often with long stockings. We also note Russian boys wearing Russain blouses and baggy pants. While long stockings were common for decades, Russian boys wore tights during the 1970s. We habe not yet developed information on Russian footwear, but note that boys in rural areas commonly went barefoot when the weather was warm enough. Russian boys clothes began to change in the 1960s. The Iron Curtain could not keep out Western youth culture, although those trends did lag chronolgically. By the 1970s Soviet boys were wearing jeans and short pants during the summer, although there were uniforms for school.

Headwear

We have little information about the headwear worn by Russian boys at this time. We do have some limited information. We note many familiar European styles such as sailor caps. Flat caps seem popular in the 1920s and 30s. This was a style also worn by adults. We note younger boys wearing berets in the 1950s and 60s.

Skirted Garments

Russian boys as in Western Europe, might wear dresses and other skirted garments. Out information at this time is still very limited. We have very little chronological information. We have few historical images, but do have a few 19th century photographs. We believe as in Europe this convention rapidly declined after the turn of the 20th century. Here we believe that social and economic factors significantly affected the clothes actually worn by Russian boys. We are working on the garments involved. We see dresses, skirts, and tunics. We do not see kilts and smocks, but our assessment is just beginning. We see girls wearing pinafores, but not boys. Girls wore dresses and pinafores in the cities. We are not sure yet about rural areas. We think that upper- and middle class boys followed the prevailing European convention, although we do not know just what form this took in Russia. We have no idea about urban working-class or peasant boys and former serf boys in rural areas. These children were less likely to be photographed. The few images we have show boys wearing serf-style tunics. This would have been the bulk of the population in the 19th century. We have little information on the dress styles worn by Russian boys. This would have affected the more affluent classes. We have only a small archive of images, but the photographic images we do have seem very similar to the styles worn in Europe at the time, at least the styles worn by boys from middle and upper-class families in the major cities. They seem to be wearing styles set in Europe rather any indigenous domestic styles. There is one exception, that is the peasnt tunic blouses which for some reason had an impact on European and American fashions. We see boys wearing Russian blouse tunic outfits. It was a popular style in the early-20th century, but largely disappeared after World War II by the 1920s. Our limited archive, however, does not yet permit to address Russian trends in detail. This will require acquiring many more 19th century images.

Cold Weather

Russia is noted for its cold winters. Thus Russian childrem wear a wide variety of warm headwear. Here social class was a factor before the Revolution. Many families could not afford expensive winter clothing. Even after the Revolution we notice many children in rural areas wearing ragged clothing, although often heavy clothing. We notice hats, caps, and balaklava-type garments. Children also wear scarves. There are many types of coats. Before the Revolution we notice the girls ising bufflers, but not after the Revolution. Of course a warm winter coat is an essential garment in Russia with its cold climate. Here we mostly notice European coat styles, although our information is very limited. We notice overcoats a might be worn by well-to-do European boys. There are many other styles worn by boys over time. This is a topic we need more information to develop. We also notice many children wearing long stockings and tights to keep warm.

Sailor Suits

We have very little information on Russian sailor suits at this time. We know they were worn in Russia, but our information at this time is primarily from available images from the royal family. They show that sailor suits were being worn by Russian boys in the late 19th century. We do not know, however, to what extent that sailor suits were worn by other Russian boys, including aristocrratic and upper and middle-class boys. I assume that made them very popular in Russia, at least among wealthy and middle-class boys in the larger cities. We have, however, no real information on this. The royal family's penchant for sailor suits is well known. The Tasarevitch Alexis was probably the most famous boy ever to wear sailor suits. He was more famous than Edward VII, who Queen Victoria dressed in an enlisted sailor suit starting the sailor suit's phenomenal fashion success. Alexis before World War I (1914-18) almost always wore sailor suits. We note that sailor caps, middy blouses, with kneepants and long stockings were common. The Tsarevitch's sailor suits must have helped make the style very popular, although except as a very young boy he mostly wore long pants sailor suirts. We note some boys wearing sailor suits after the Revolution. We have no idea how common this was. The last image that we have of a Russian boy wearing sailor suits is from the 1930s. We do note, however, a Soviet fashion magazine from the 1970s showing boys modeling sailor suits. Suits carefully followed the style of the Russuian Navy which wore dickeys with horizontal stripes.

Russian Blouses

We also note Russian boys wearing Russain blouses and baggy pants. While long stockings were common for decades.

Suits

Russian boys wore a range of suit types. Our information is limited, but many of them were the same styles as worn by other European boys. Suit and other clothing styles were largely set in Europe. This was especially true in the 19th and early 20th century. One exception was a Russian-blouse styled jacket. This was worn as a suit jacket rather than a blouse. We know less about the 20th century. This is because with the establishment of the Soviet Union, fashion was dicouraged. Clothing manufacturers were natuinalized as part of Soviet economic policy, manufactuers no longer had to respond to consumer demand. Shortages of consumer goods mwant that Russians had to be satisfied with whatever was available. Another factor was the relative poverty of Russia during the Soviet era, especially before World War II. Russia even at the time of the War was still a larely rural country although the cities had grown with industrial expansion. Many boys except in the major cities probably did not have suits.

Pants

HBC has very limited information on Russian pants styles during the 19th centuiry. There were of course major difference between the urban population and the large rural population. After World War I kneepants disappeared and Russian boys began wearing long pants. Short pants were also worn, often with long stockings. Russian boys clothes began to change in the 1960s. The Iron Curtain could not keep out Western youth culture, although those trends did lag chronolgically. Jeans became a fashion sensation in the 1960s. By the 1970s Soviet boys were wearing jeans and short pants during the summer, although there were uniforms for school. We notice knickers being worn through the 1970s, but they do not appear to have been very popular. Very short-cut shorts quite common in 1970s and early 1980s.

School Uniforms

Russian elementary children used to wear distinctive uniforms, both before and after the Revolution. School uniforms for girls did not change greatly after the Revolution. Girls' uniforms consisted of a black dress with an Edwardian style pintafore white apron. Boys before the Revolution often wore a Russian revival style bloused tunic. Many schools during the Soviet era had military style uniforms. After the breakup of the Soviet Union children no longer wanted to wear the Soviet-era uniforms.

Costumes

We note a lot of Russian boys wearing costumes. The pattern seems somewhat different than in the West, especially in the 19th century and early-20th century. Almost all of the examples we have found show boys wearing peasant tunics or cossock outfits, usually younger boys. Western costumes were much more varied. Many were for dress upn parties. And also in the West we see both boys and girls in costumes. We have never seen a Russian girl cossock costume portrait. These costume portraits rapidy go out of style after the Revolution, at least for costume portraits. We do see children wearing them for festivals, folk dancing or school events. This is similar to the West where costumes are sometimes worn for special occassions.

Hosiery

We have noted Russian boys wearing a variety of hosiery. Given the climate, long stockings were commonly worn in Russia. Russian boys wore tights during the 1970s. Here trends seem to have been some what influenced by Germany. I am not sure how this worked in the early Soviet era, but after World War II there was considerable trade between the Soviet Union and East Germany. We note Russian boys wearing sandals after World War II. Some wore them without socks, but with socks seems to have been more common.

Footwear

We have not yet developed much information on Russian footwear. Here there are strong demographic and social class factors. We note that boys in rural areas commonly went barefoot when the weather was warm enough and sometimes when there was not. This was primarily a question of poverty. We note many rural boys, presumably from serf famolies wearing what look go be bulky cloth footwear held together with bindings. We are not sure what they were called. We notice children before the Revolution wearing closed-toe sandals or strap shoes. We are not entirely sure how to classify them. And we notice sandals being worn extensively in the Soviet era, especially after World war II. Shoe styles seem basically similar to Europe, but we do not yet have a lot of information on Russian shoes. Cost was a factor here as shoes are normally made from leather and thus the most expensive garment worn.

Sleepwear

We do not know much about Russian sleepwear. Presumavly nightshirts were worn as was the case in the rest of Europe. We do not know to what extent pajamas were worn. Presumably they were worn by middle-class children. Since the appearance of tights, they seemed to have caught on as winter sleepwear. A Russian reader tells us, "Here in Russia children pajamas are expensive, about US$20 in 2010. Common children's tights can be purchased for about US$2. And t-shirts cost only slightly more. So tights with a t-shirt an economical way to keep a child warm when he or she plays at home or sleeps."







HBC






Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Russian pages:
[Ballet] [Children's literature] [Choirs] [Fashion magazines] [Movies] [Royalty] [School uniform] [Youth groups]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Russian page]
[Return to theMain country page]
[Australia] [Canada] [England] [France] [Germany] [Ireland] [Italy] [Mexico] [New Zealand] [Poland] [Scotland] [United States]



Created: October 9, 2002
Last updated: 6:33 PM 2/3/2011