Interesting History of Russian Fashion throughout Time

Fashion bears meaning for a popular trend, specifically in styles of dress and jewelry or manners of behavior. However, there is so much more to fashion than meets the eye. The items of clothing we decided to wear are often times our best and tangible forms of personal expression. What we decide to wear shows other people what kind of person we are and what we see from ourselves.

Fashion shows are an amusing performance unlike any other kind of performance art while increasing the economy index and offering jobs for a huge number of people, ranging from the designer who creates the original concepts to the outfitter who produces the clothing, and to the salesperson who sells the items to us.

There is the unassailable truth that fashion makes our life more beautiful than it actually is and it is by making everyone look and feel more beautiful than they otherwise might. Fashion allows people of all genders, sizes, races, backgrounds, and walks of life to feel comfortable on their skins, feel good about themselves, and look their best. There is just something remarkably idealistic about fashion in the sense that it conceives things in the best light possible.

Russian Fashion

The days of Soviet Russia along with that awkward fashion style that seemed to be a century behind the rest of the United State and Europe have been long gone. While a lot of other civilizations were wearing beige or white minimalistic outfits, Russian people, specifically women, were going around in bling-bling, shiny, and flashy clothes with big hair and bold makeup. It is as if they were just coming out straight of the 80’s soap opera.

The times surely are changing and Russia has now quickly become one of the most interesting countries in Europe due to the vibrant, dynamic, and innovative fashion scene. It mixes tradition and history with edgy street style and making the phrase “Made in Russia” something to be proud of.

So, how does Russian fashion go from zero to hero? Written in this article is an interesting history of Russian fashion throughout time.

9th to 13th Century Russian Fashion

In the ninth to the thirteenth century, Russian women wore long shirts called rubakhi that flowed down to their ankles and with long sleeves gathered upon their wrists. Married women also wore some kind of skirt with a checked-pattern woolen fabric called ponevu and they completely covered their hair by something called povoi or ubrus in the form of the towel, while the unmarried ones wore a narrow band of fabric or metal called venchik on their foreheads.

Russian men wore narrow trousers called porty and tunic-like shirts made of linen called sorochki that went down to their knees or their mid-calves. The footwear was primitive shoes called lapti.

Byzantine Influence on Russian Fashion

The short-flap dress began to disappear from the Russian ground under the influence of the Byzantine, although peasants remained to wear it for another century. However, the length and size of the dress were substantially reduced.


Russian clothing had no draping elements whether in the case of the upper classes or peasantry. Common folk decorated themselves with a homemade cloth while those of the upper classes wore a second shirt called sorochka which was made of expensive imported fabrics.

Tatar – Mongol Influence on Russian Fashion

The Tatar-Mongol invasion to Russia had led to a break in the contacts with Western Europe. Consequently, there was the immediate adjacency with Turkic-speaking peoples led to a transformation in the form of Russian clothing.

The most common type of clothing during this time was rashpatnyi dress. It was a dress with a slit in the upfront that appeared from top to bottom, and men wore broad trousers. However, even after having adopted the cut, style, and certain elements of this foreign clothing, Russian people never lost their own identity when it came to clothing. For example, there was caftan, some kind of wide-opening garment with a deep wrap-over, worn by almost everyone.

19th to 20th Century Russian Fashion

This era was heavily influenced by European style and the first to change their dress style were the family of Tsar. Later, the Tsar wanted to see all the women at the ground wearing the same kind of dress, and so in 1834, a female ‘uniform’ called Frenchified sarafan was introduced.

The uniform combined the tightly cinched waist and an enormous train with traditional headdress and folded-back sleeves. The dress continued to exist without modification until 1917. Even men who were not engaged in civil service or military were required to wear such a uniform.

In 1829, for the first time, industrial exhibitions were held in Russia. It was the exhibition of Russian textile which was held in St. Petersburg and resulted in the indisputable success of Russian manufacturers of accessories, textiles, and shawls. It was an important stage in the history of Russian fashion because it marked the first competitive production of European accessories.


Designer’s Influence on Russian Fashion

The influence of Russian designers on the European fashions of the first decade of the twentieth century was irrefutable. Of the spectacular dressmakers or designers at that time, the most notable one was Nadezhda Lamanova. She started her own clothing line in 1885, and in 1901, she started to collaborate with the Moscow Art Theater.

In 1917, Lamanova became one of the founders of Soviet dress while continuing to work at Moscow. She joined in the publication of the magazine Atel’e (1923) which contained programs for teaching the dressmaking craft. In 1925, Lamanova’s collection was worth the grand prize for national originality in good combination with a contemporary style in fashion at the Paris world exhibition.

We have come at the bottom of the page of an interesting history of Russian fashion throughout time. Hopefully, it will give you a better understanding.

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