Dressing right is one of many ways to respect the people and country that host us when we come as a guest or visitor. Learning about the host’s culture and custom is how you would find out how to dress correctly for the occasion. Usually when people travel, they would only check the weather and bring light clothes if it’s not going to be cold or rainy. But, if you visit Russia you have to know a few of its etiquette of clothing – not just the weather – so you can open more doors there.
1. Walking through the old roads and squares
Because Russia is a very old country, a lot of roads there use cobblestone paving. To walk through these places comfortably, avoid wearing stilettos or high heels since they will most likely sprain your ankles. Also, don’t wear shoes with wooden heels because they will make loud noises hitting the stones and you wouldn’t want all the wrong attentions.
2. Cover yourself in worshipping places
Russia has a lot of famous historical and heritage buildings which some of them are worshipping places like churches and mosques. If you plan to visit these places, make sure you dress accordingly. Do not wear jeans, short skirt, t-shirt, or tracksuit. Men are expected to wear trousers, and shirts with collars, while women had better be wearing long loose skirts, tops with high neck, and headscarves. Hats should be taken off and there may be areas around the mosques where you should take your shoes off too.
3. Leave your sandals at home
The warm season in Russia is rather short and the beaches are covered with grass because they are located by the river banks or near fresh water lakes. So sandals are never quite in fashion in Russia. Some tourists may wear them to the parks or festivals during summer, but rarely the locals. Women in Moscow and St. Petersburg usually wear flats, platform shoes, and moccasins during the summer, while the men wear summer shoes.
4. Boots outside, slippers inside
During the winter, when the snow gets thick on the ground, boots or winter shoes can get quite wet and dirty. Wearing moist shoes for a long time will make your feet smell bad, too. So, if you visit a Russian home during winter, know that you should leave your boots outside and change into slippers they provide for guests. This rule is also applied in offices and some dining places. If they don’t provide slippers, make sure you wipe your feet before the entrance.
5. The great importance of cloakroom
Russia is one of the countries that still use cloakroom in most public places like theatres, high-end restaurants, schools, offices, and many more. Make sure you respect this rule and turn in your coat, hat, and gloves before going into these places, especially if you plan to go to theatres of opera houses. Wearing in your outer clothes into public places with cloakrooms would appear as a rude gesture.
6. Dress for the theatre
In relevance with the point above, you should be careful with what you wear if you are going to go to theatres. For men, it will be simpler because tuxedo will do. But women, watch the tail of your dress. Don’t wear something that is too long that will sweep the stairs. It will ruin both your dress and your night. A decent black dress – knee or calf-length – will do, and combine it with heels or smart boots. A clutch bag will suit the event well, too.
7. Different city, different rules
Russia covers a fairly wide part of the earth. Diversity is one of the nation’s identity. If you walk around Moscow or St. Petersburg, modern and stylish fashion is acceptable. You can even show your shoulders and legs in the summer. But, there are regions in Russia where the majority of the people are Muslims like the Republic of Kazakhstan and Tatarstan, and when you visit these places you have to go with their rules. Dress decently and cover your legs and arms. Leave your torn jeans and eccentric t-shirts in your travel bag. Think yourself as a traveler who wants to absorb the beauty of these places, not showing yourself off.
8. Put layers on
The weather in Saint Petersburg is said to be quite unpredictable due to the city’s unstable climate. To blend in with the locals, you can wear layers instead of wearing just thick, winter coats and one plain shirt underneath. Layers of clothes will help with the rapid change of the climate. If it gets too cold, you can keep your coat on, and when it suddenly starts to get too warm during the day, you can peel it off but still looking fine with another thinner outer wear that is still decent to be worn around the town and to go to places like restaurants and museums.
9. Stay neutral
Moscow is one of the world’s fashion capitals indeed. But you can’t walk around the city looking strange with neon colors and funny hats. Russian women believe that to look classy you should stick with the neutral colors that will go with any seasons and occasions; white, beige, grey, and black. During the winter in Russia, you might see mostly these colors pouring on the streets and make the whole town looking like a place from somewhere old and classic.
10. No sneakers and jeans in the office
In some countries, it might be a usual thing to wear jeans to work. But, in Russia, where business really matters and should be taken seriously, jeans and sneakers are not acceptable in offices – also backpacks. Trousers, a jacket, shirt, and smart tie suit the place better. Take note of this if you visit Russia to work.
Those were the 10 Russian etiquettes of clothing you should know if you plan to visit the country. Wearing the right clothes will say a lot about you without a word needed to be said.