Russian Tights


Figure 1.--A Russian reader reoport that Russian boys from about 5-11 years of age commonly wore tights with short pants during the 1970s. This prticular photograph was taken in Moscow about 1974. Tights became less common in the 1980s. I'm not sure about the color of this boy's tights, probably a brown or tan.

Russian boys like German boys wore long stockings well after they went out of style in many other European countries. It is apparently still quite common for boys under age 8-10 to wear tights. A Russian contributor to HBC reports that almost all Russian boys wear tights till 6-7 years as a part of their daily clothes. Often around in the house they have only tights without pants. Many Russian homes are not well heated and the tights feel good on cold winter days. When they go outside they wear pants with tights underneath. In the winter nowadays they wear long pants. In the spring when the weather begins to warm, some younger boys may wear tights with short pants. After age 6-7 years most boys stops wearing tights, but a considerable number continue to wear tights till 9-10-11 years--usually because their mothers insist. Only few older boys wear tights, even at home. Boys in Russia now view tights as more appropriate for girls.

Chronology

Russian boys like German boys wore long stockings well after they went out of style in many other European countries. Boys wearing tights was much more common in the old Soviet Union. The fashion desires of modern Russian boys now have more of an impact on what is sold. Tights esentially replaced long stockings which continued to be worn in Russia through the 1960s. Tights for children first appeared in Germany during the late 1950s and early 60s. This appaers to be the case in the GFR (West Germany). Thus was the result in part of the dvelopment of new synthetic fibers. Tights did not immediately appear in Russia, but by the late 1960s had begun to be seen. A Russian reader reports that in the Soviet Union only long stockings were worn before 1969. Both tights andlong stockings were worn from 1970-72, but mostly tights after 1972. After about 1981, boys no longer wore tights. Our reader report that as far as he knows the same chronology applies to DDR tights. It is possible that the German influence may have brought tights to Russia. East Germany then occupied by the Soviet Union and was a major trading partner. Our information on the chronology and origins of DDR tights, however, is still limited. A Russian reader reports that by 1971-72 it was quite common to see boys dressing up in shortpants suits with tights instead of long stockings. Some boys up to about age 11 wore sailor suits. A Russian reader reports that this was especially common for special occassions like birthdays and Christmas. [HBC did not know that Russian families in the Soviet Union during the 1970s ommonly celbrated Chrstmas.] This continued to be common until about 1978. For some reason this fashion suddenly vanished in 1979-81. A Russian reader reports that fashion vanished ENTIRELY in 1979-81. After 1981 you NEVER could find a boy dressed in short pants and tights, even in the provinces outside Moscow and the other major cities. So "less common" is incorrect. It disappered absolutely.

The Soviet Union

Boys wearing tights, especially with short pants, had a slightly longer life in Russia and other Soviet republics than in many other European countries. Russia in the 1960s and 70s was part of the Soviet Union. It was the dominant part of the Siviet Union, but only one of 16 republivs--all of which have since split up into independant countries. Boys in several other Soviet republics also wore tights. A Russian reader reports that tights were commonly worn in Belorussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and other but not all republics. Boys did not commonly wear tights in Tajikistan. (Here tere may be a difference between the Russian and Tajik boys.) This may have been a pattern in the Central Asian republics. Climate could have been a factor or perhaps Islamic sensabilities. Before the 1970s, long stockings were also commonly worn by boys in those parts of the Soviet Union. This had become common during the 1880 in Czarist Russia as was already the case in Western Europe.

Ages

A Russian contributor to HBC reports that almost all Russian boys wear tights till 6-7 years as a part of their daily clothes. He indicates that boys 7-8 years of age wearing short pants were quite common in Russia. Many Russian homes are not well heated and the tights feel good on cold winter days. When they go outside they wear pants with tights underneath. In the winter nowadays they wear long pants. In the spring when the weather begins to warm, some younger boys may wear tights with short pants. Boys begin wearing tights from 2-3 years. After age 7-8 years most boys stops wearing tights, but a considerable number continue to wear tights till 9-10-11 years--usually because their mothers insist.

Colors

Boys wore tights of many varied colors. Very young boys did not care much what color tights they wore. Older boys developed clear preferences. The most common colors for school age boys were the more subdued, low-saturation colors such as dark brown, light brown, beige and gray. These were the same colors that long stockings that boy had worn before the 1960s. When tights became available in the 1960s the same colors were worn. These colors were worn for school, playground, and home. Some vry young pre-school boys might wear the brighter colors or white like girls might wear. After the began school, howvr, they wanted the more subdued colors that the older boys wor. A Russian reader confirms that, "Russian boys preferred plain colors like black, brown, or gray. Some mothers chose bright colors or white for younger boys." Black tights were also worn by Russian boys. Black tights were considered appropriate for dress wear. Black tights might be worn for visits, birthday and New Year parties etc.

Patterns

We note some tights with little designs and prints. This was something we never saw with long stockings. We are not sure about just what prints were used. We think there were both boy and girl prints. We note some Pokemon prints. There were many others, but we have only limited information at this time. These would have been worn by tounger boys. We are not sure when the prints first appeared. We first see them in the 1990s, but they could have appeared earlier.

Weave

Most of the tights we note in Russia seem to have a flat weave. The flat weave appears to be by far the most common. That is a little surprising as given the climate one might have thought that ribbing would be more common. The ribbing makes the tights better at keeping the children warm. This certainly was the case for long stockings. We do note that a few children, do have ribbed tights. Ribbing seems, however, a more common feature of long stockings than tights, but our information is very limited. We suspect tht ribbing does not show up in the photography as was more common than thecavailable photographs suggest. We see some ribbing in Soviet times tights. We are not sure if ribbing has become more or less common in modern Russia. Consumer demand now has a far greater importance than during the Soviet era. And we do not know if this means ribbing has become more or less common. Hopefully our Russian reader will provide some insight here.

Seasonality

Boys dressed in cotton tights during spring from March to last days of May. Summer are hot, and boy don't wear tights in this time except cold days. Boys wear woolen tights under his regular clothes from November to February. While thi was when boys most commonly wore tights, this ws not the only time. Some boys wore tights even during the summer. The summer season in parts of Russia is quite short. Thus boys were ccustomed to wearing tights much of the year. Thus some boys who wore shorts during the summer just continued wearing tights. This was probably most common on days which began little chilly so their mothers probably put out ther tights rather than socks in the morning. This was common in the 1960s anbd 70s, although declined in the 1980s.

Conventions

HBC has noted Russian boys wearing both long stockings and tights with both short and long pants. While it is sometimes difficult to tell if boys in avilable images are wearing long stockings or tights, the date of the image using the above chronology can help determine this. They were wotn for play, school, and dress occasions. They were even worn with Young Pioneer uniforms. 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 wearingb pajamas after waking up in the morning or before going to bed at night. We are not sure if tights were worn like pajamas by Russin boys.

Dress Wear

While tights in general were primarily worn by Russian boys for warmth, some Russian boys appeared to have worn tights for dress wear. A Russian contributor to HBC reports, "When I was the boy 12-13 years during the early 1980s I attended Pioneer Camp during the summer. The Pioneer leaders/teachers at the camp would occasionally have us wear dressy white cotton tights with the shorts pants of our uniform. Many parents dressed their children in white tights with short pants for 'celebratory' [dressy] clothes. We boys didn't like this." HBC notes that Pioneers also wore white knee socks when dressing up. Knne socks seem to be more common for the Pioneers. While girls commonly wore white tights, boys would more commonly wear black tights for dresy events such as parties and family events. This is comparable to conventions for long stockings in early years. We still see Russiab boys being dressed up in white tights, but now mostly younger boys.

Gender

Tights are worn by both boys and girls in Russia. Unlike Germany, there were no tights specifically contructed for boys, at least in Soviet times. All tights made in the former Soviet Union were generic styled tights made for 'kids'. We are less sure about modern Russia. There were, however, differences in the colors worn by boys and girls. Boys wore subdued colors while girls might wear brighter colors. There are also age differences. Only younger boys wore tights. After about age 8 years were begin to see fewer boys wearing tights. Here the fact that today long pants are common, especially in the winter, it is a little difficult to asses how many boys wear tights and the age trends. This is much easier for girls. We note even teenage girls wear tights. A Russian reader tells us that in 2004 or 2005, the Amaroli company produced tights with false socks. We are not sure, however, about the purpose of this style. It appears to be a style created to appeal specifically for boys, some of whom apparently do not like to be seen wearing tights.

Orphanages

Boys in Russian orphanages commonly wear tights. We are not sure why they seem particularly commin in orphanages. An American couple reports adopting a 6 1/2 year-old boy in 1993. When they first saw him, he was wearing shorts, tights and Mary Jane shoes.

Boys' Attitudes

Boys attitudes toward tights seems to have changed over time. Inititially quite a number of boys wore tights much as ling stockings had een common. The popularity of tights has declined among boys, although quite a number of mothers do buy tights for their sons, primarily as a useful garment in cold weather. Only few older boys wear tights, even at home. Boys in Russia now view tights as more appropriate for girls. Modern children are very much subjected to the influence of advertising. Boys now want trendy clothes--all these new cool flows, baggy over sized trousers, and jackets worn rolled up to the elbows. Tights are not advertised as trendy clothes. A Russian reader tells us that the subject of tights for boys has been discussed on internet chat rooms where parents discuss clothing and other subjects concering their children.

Personal Experiences

We do not yet have many personal accounts from Russian readers. One reader, Victor, has provided us some details about his experiences. He notes that to some extent social class aspects were involved.






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Created: August 23, 1998
Last updated: 8:42 PM 8/30/2010