Russian Boys' Shirt-like Garments: Blouses

Figure 1.--This CDV portrait shows a Russian brother and sister wearing blouses. We are not sure about the date, but the dealer suggested the 1900s. They look to be about 3-5 years old. The girls wear the popular loose-fitting white blouse common in Russia for girls and women. In this case there is no embroidery. The boy. The boy wears a classic Russian blouse. We can't make oit the studio, but the city was Kazan, a large city in southern Russia with a fasinating history.

Blouses were very common for children in the 19th century. Many blouses buttoned onto trouers which held them up In the later-19th century blouses often had drawstring closures which caused the garment to blouse out giving the garment its modern name. These were Western European styles. Peter the Great (r 1682/96-1725) promoted Western clothing styles part of his efforts to modenize the country. Thus we see blouses being worn by both the Russian elite and growing middle-class in the 19th century. This was a growing, but small part of the Russian population. Most of the people, however, lived in the countryside. A substantial part of the rural population were serfs. They were finally emancipated by Tsar Alexander II (1861). The serf population, however, remained largely landless, undereducated, and poor. They wore traditional clothing which increasingly included blouses. Women and girls wore loose fitting white blouses which often were decorated with embroidered designs. Serf boys and men commonly wore what looked like long collarless shirts that buttoned at the neck could extend down to the knees along with baggy pants. A shorter version became became a popular style even in the cities during the late-19th centyry. And in a reversal of century-long trends, a Russian style was adoped in the West--the Rusian blouse. At the turn-of- the 20 century we see boys in Western Europe and America wearing Russian blouse tunics and blouses.


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Created: 6:28 PM 7/3/2019
Last updated: 6:28 PM 7/3/2019