Soviet School Uniform: Post Stalinist Era (1960s-80s)


Figure 1.--This Soviet schoolboy photographed in 1969 is a member of the October Children movement (Oktyabryenok). His uniform served as both a school uniform and the uniform of Oktyabryenok. They were rather like Pioneer Cubs. Note that he is not wearing a red neckerchief yet. The children get the neckerchiefs when they become Pioneers.

Basic education in the Soviet Union had 10 grades. Children began at 7 years and graduated at 16. Girls in grades 1-8 wore a brown dress with a black pinafore style-apron in front. Another source says a dark-blue or black dress with an Edwardian style pinafore white apron. Apparently the dress colors varied somewhat. On holidays the black apron was replaced by a dressier white pinafore which might be frilled. At the top of the dress, girls wore a white collar, often in the Peter Pan style, which could be detached and washed separately. Girls or their parents often added large white hairbows. The collar was expected to be kept spotlessly clean. In grades 9-10 the uniform changed to a navy blue jacket and skirt which could be combined with a blouse of the girl's own choice. Boys wore a still obligatory, but more civilian-looking uniform. It consisted of dark blue pants, short jacket with chevron (image of the book on a background of the sun), white shirt, and red scarf. The younger boys sometimes wore large white collars over their jackets, but this varied from school to school and over time. A reader tell us, "I met a russian girl studying biology at McGill University. I asked her if she wore black dress, white pinafores, and large bows on her hair as a school girl. She told me that she indeed did, but that girls no longer dress like that for school. She said, however, that each year children are encouraged to wear that costume at the end of the classes as if was a kind of national dress".

Structure

Basic education in the Soviet Union had 10 grades. Children began at 7 years and graduated at 16.

Chronological Changes

There were several chronolgical changes in the Soviet school uniform during the post-Stalinist era. The date of a school photograh can thus be estimated by the clothes/uniforms that the children are wearing. The old Stalinist-era uniform continued to be worn in the 1950s. The basic uniform was not changed until 1962. There followed further changes. We have some basic informations about the different uniforms worn over time.

School Level

We have begun to collect some chronological information on primary and secondary schools over time. Uniforms seem to have become well established at Soviet schools during the late Stalinist era and this was continued into the post-Stalinist era. The uniforms seem to have been basically the same at both primary and secondary schools. The basic difference seems to be that some of the primary boys wore short pants. We note that by the mid-80s that some schools were not as strictly enforcing the uniform rules. There also appears to be a degree of variation. This seems to have been regional or perhaps city differences.

Casual Clothes

A Russian reader tells us tht not all primary children wore uniforms. While all secondary students wore uniforms, the situation at primry schools was much more varied, espcially for the younger children. Our Russian reder tells us, "Since the 1950s younger children sometimes were allowed to wear casual clothes to school -- for example, shorts. It depended on the regional weather and on the school administration opinion. In warm areas (like North Caucasus, i.e. Sochi, Crimea, Ukaraine and so on) school uniform often was used only in the colder period of the year. This wasn't common for the whole USSR territory of course." We see the girls more commomnly wearing the uniform than the boys.

Post Soviet Russia

A reader tell us, "I met a russian girl studying biology at McGill University. I asked her if she wore black dress, white pinafores, and large bows on her hair as a school girl. She told me that she indeed did, but that girls no longer dress like that for school. She said, however, that each year children are encouraged to wear that costume at the end of the classes as if was a kind of national dress".

Activities

We note Soviet children engaged in many of the same activities as children in other countries. We do not note an important sports program, but our information is still limited. We note the children involved in field trips, but it is not clear to us if the children normally wore their school or Young Pioneer uniform.

Garments

We note Soviet school children wearing both regulsr clothes and uniform garments in the post-Stalinist eera. Regular clothes were still common in the 1950s, but gradually we see more and more children wearing school uniform garments as economnic conditions improved after the War. We see boys wearing military-styled caps campsign and garrison caps. We think the garison caps were mostly worn at elite city schools. The basic uniform was a blue suit jacket with military touches and matching blue pants, usully long pants. The styles changed significantly from pre-Stalin to the Stalin era to post-Stalin. The later uniforms were more modern in style, whereas the older ones looked more similar to military uniforms. Colors may have varied. A Ukranian source reoorts briwn uniforms. Boys often came to school with white shirts, but without the jackets. This may have been a seasional matter. The boys did not wear ties, but instead red known as Pioneer scarves (scarvespionerskiy galstuk -- пионерский галстук). Usually there are some children who did not wear the scarves. We are not sure what that meant. We assumne the teachers encouraged them to wear the scarves. Hosiery varied. Long stockings were common for primary-age children, eventually replaced by tights. We see this mostly with the girls as long pants were so common. Girls wore navy blue or brown dresses, dresses with white pinafores. You often can't tell much about the dresses because they are coverd by the pinafores.

Special Schools

The Soviets had special schools with especially good facilities. These schools were mormallu located in the major urban centers like Leningrad and Moscow. Entrance into these schools seem to be a mixture of ability and family position. The children of well placed Party, government, and military officials were able to place their children in these schools. I don't have full details about just how children were placed in such schools and would be interested in any information HBC readers may have. With their strong academic program, these children were most likely to gain admission to important Soviet universities.

Young Pioneers

We note some many Soviet portraits in the 1970s and 80s that we are able to easily destinguish between school prtraits and Young Pioneer portraits. Some images are are onvious because of the setting. Others are very difficult to destinguish. This is in part because the school uniform and the Young Pioneer uniform were the same. In addition, the Young Pioneers were organized at the school level. Thus on trips away from school we are often not sure if we are looking at a school or Pioneer uniform.






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Created: September 26, 2003
Last updated: 2:18 AM 12/1/2018