Russian Tights Conventions: Utility

Figure 1.--Here is a photograph from a magazine printed in 1991. We see two boys in kindergarten - one of them works on PC with a teacher. I suppose this picture is taken in so called "sample" kindergarten - because personal comupters in kindergartens were really rare phenomenon in that times. More, you can see that boys are dressed in the same shirts, shorts and tights. I don't know why, maybe they are brothers. Another possibility is that the photo was taken in an orphanage or some kind of institution. We think that this unlikely because orphanages were often not well funded enough to buy computers. Orphanages oftn buy a lot of the same clothes (or receive it from charity organization), so it looks like all children wear a sort of the uniform.

We see Russian boys wearing tights for a range of different occassions. Russian boys were worn for play, school, and dress occasions. They were even worn with Young Pioneer uniforms. Here are information is still fairly limited. Hopefully our Russian readers will provide us more insights. They were also often commonly worn at home. They were worn with both short and long pants. Again it is difficult to fully assess how common it was for any of these circumstances because many boys wore long pants. This was especially true for the older boys. We note that they were very common in kindergarten and the early primary years. Afterwards it is more difficult to tell as more boys wear long pants. This is especially true by the 1990s.


We note children wearing tights with play clothes. This includes boys wearing short pants. We are not sure just what the conventions were here. If the tights were being worn because it was chilly, I'm not sure why the boy would be wearing short pants. By the 1970s, Russian boys commonly had both long and sjort pants which were often worn seasonally. Perhaps during the summer some boys wore short psnts and mother or grand mother would put out tights on coller days. But we are just not sure about the conventions. This may have been a carry over for the conventions associated with longv srtockings. These play tights seem to be neutral shades, although this is difficult to tell because of the still common blasck and white photigraphy. This seems to have been may have been especially common in rural areas where fashion conventions were less pronounced.


We note that tights seem very common in kindergarten and the early primary years where the boys were wearing short pants during the 1970s. We are less sure about older boys wearing long pants. Afterwards it is more difficult to tell as more boys wear long pants. This is especially true by the 1990s. An exception is kindergarten where we still see many boys wearing short pants with tights.

Family Outings

Family snapshots show Russian boys wearing tights for a variety of family outings to parks, picnics in the country, or other family events. Many images show boys wearing tights with short pants. Girls commonly wore the, with skirts and dresses for similar outings. Here we can only tell if boys are wearing tights if they are wearing short pants. We are unsure how common it was to wear tights with long pants. There are seasonal fctors at play here. By the time tights appeared in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s, it was becoming less common for boys to wear short pants all year round. Especially in the 1970s shorts began to be seen as casual seasonal wear. Thus tights were not as commonly worn with shorts as long stockings had been earlier. Still we see quite a number of images in the photographic record of boys wearing shorts with tights. We are not entirely sure why mothers would have wanted boys to wear tights on a warm summer day, but perhaps in the Spring and Fall, changeable weathrr conditions were involved.

Dress Occassions

We see quite a few images of very young children wearing dressy outfits, sometimes with wite tights. Many of these photographs seen to be school events. Many seem to be kindergarten children, but there may be sone 1st and 2nd year boys as well. Here it is not always easy to tell.

Home Wear

German sources report that some younger boys at home might wear tights without pants. Our Russian sources vary on this subject. Russian sources indicate that this was not the case in the Soviet Union, except for very young todler-age children. Some available images, however, suggest that it was the case. We suspect this may have been somewhat similar to American children wearing pajamas after waking up in the morning or before going to bed at night. We assume in the evening that the boys are wearing tights they wore during the day. It seems unlikely that boys would put on tights when they came home. A Russian reader tells us, "Yes, that's absolutely right. It is common for Russian boys to wear tights in such a way at home, and not only by younger boys. But being in such outfit is considered informal. For example, when I visited one woman, with who I'm familiar with, her son (near 9) was in only dark brown tights, and she told him to "put on shorts, because we have guests". In a book for kindergarten teachers I've found such a note: 'It is not appropriate to dress children in a shirt and tights only. Boys must wear tights with shorts, and girls with dresses.'"


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Created: 6:44 PM 11/27/2005
Last updated: 11:13 PM 12/7/2008