Magazine article Russian Life

How Russia's Countryside Dressed

Magazine article Russian Life

How Russia's Countryside Dressed

Article excerpt

Owing to the peasants' conservative lifestyle and the stability of their customs, the clothing that they wore, including cut and style of ornamentation, did not change much over the centuries. The clothing worn by the upper strata of society, as well as by the urban population, changed rapidly as a result of reforms introduced by Tsar Peter the Great in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. But the peasants' style of dress remained almost unchanged until the end of the nineteenth century, when urban fashions and the development of capitalism in Russia began to affect life in the countryside.

We have dealt here with women's dress only, for the clothing worn by men was fairly standard throughout Russia: homespun trousers; a loose shirt worn outside the trousers and girded with an ornamented belt; and a fur cap in winter and a high hat made of thick felt in summer. But the women's dress reflected Russians' ideas of beauty. In past centuries, a Russian woman's clothing was almost the only medium through which she could display her creative ability and skill.

The bases of feminine dress were the shirt and the sarafan, or skirt and apron. In general, women's clothes were of an ancient and comparatively simple cut. …

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