Gdye mozhna koopit blue jeans?
During the Cold War
, the Soviet Union didn't really have much access to Western fashion, unless you were one of the nomenklatura
or otherwise well connected. This is why Sergei in the novel is surprised to see a woman wearing a denim jacket and jeans (he asks "Where did you get those blue jeans?"), gladly trading his coat for it. Note, though, that this is a fairly overblown notion — while for a time in The Sixties
and early Seventies
the authorities tried to fight this "cowtowing before the West" (including cutting too-narrow trousers
), by the mid-Seventies they finally relented and even started the domestic production of the most coveted items such as the blue jeans, as well importing a knock-off ones from Turkey and India. Still it dodn't have much effect, as not only the quality was often atrocious, but the mere fact that they were domestically produced made them not "true" and thus not worth it.
Since the collapse though, Russian women (and men) have grabbed Western fashions voraciously. They are currently often found wearing several salaries on their person at once. In extreme cases, a driver's currently worn outfit can be worth more than his car.
This article, however, will focus on the items of clothing that are specifically Russian, or very common there. Note, that most 'traditional' items was outdated in USSR time or even earlier, and even in USSR times Russian fashion was heavily westernised.
- Bashlyk: A cone shaped hood of Cossack and Turkic origin. Associated with the early Reds With Rockets, but used before that by the Imperial Russian Military.
- Budyonnovka: Hat of the Reds With Rockets until the 1930s, like a kepi, but with a cone-shaped top. Associated with the Russian Civil War era and Communism, despite initially being designed for an Imperial WWI victory parade. Its creator, a famous Romantic painter Victor Vasnetsov, styled it after a traditional Russian peaked helmet.
- Gymnastiorka: The one-piece smock-style standard tunic for Soviet soldiers in WW 2, which was based on the traditional peasant shirt called "kosovorotka".
- Kaftan: For Russians, a long man's coat with tight sleeves. Now mostly worn by reconstructors and some of the Orthodox Church clergy.
- Kokoshnik: A traditional female headdress, used with:
- Sarafan: a sleeveless jumper-dress. Mostly used now for folk dances, along with the previous item.
- Kosovorotka: A male Russian peasant's shirt, literally "oblique collar" after its collar, which seals to the side. Not tucked in.
- Babushka: Worn by country women and older women in cities. A relic of the frozen in time Soviet fashion. Initially was a piece of clothing worn by religious mandate and symbolizing women's submission and modesty, similarly to modern Islamic headscarves. Ironically, a red or scarlet headscarf was a typical headgear for female Commissars, Chekists or other strong, independent women aligned with Bolshevism in the Russian Civil War era.
- Note that in Russian "Babushka" (stress on the first syllable) means "Grandmother". "Babushka" (stressed on the second syllable) as a headscarf is a strictly American usage, stemming from the fact that when the word was adopted into English, only grannies still wore them.
- Telogreika: literally translated as "body warmer", a quilted short coat. The most common type of winter uniform until the 1960s and was first issued by the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. It is also still popular today among many blue-collar workers in the successor states of the USSR. Very common in all media depicting the Eastern Front of the aforementioned war.
- Papakha: A wool hat (often made out of karakul sheep skin), associated with Georgia and Cossacks, sometimes worn by Tricolours With Rusting Rockets officers and generals.
- Telnyashka: A striped top, usually dark blue and white, worn by sailors and the VDV Airborne forces (they are the Russian equivalent of USMC, except they are paratroopers and not marines).
- Ushanka: The Russian hat. Made of fur with the ear flaps. Often worn by soldiers and cops during the long Russian winter. The army and police standard issue hat is made of cheap artificial fur (derisively nicknamed "fish fur"); civilian hats are of natural fur and more expensive.
- Some have gotten to the US. Chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo is wearing one.
- Some historians suggest that they might also be an adoption from the steppe nomads, as very similar hats are still could be seen among various Turkic triped of the Great Steppe, and the early Kievan Rus hats were mostly round leather scullcaps or tall conical hats made of wool, often with the fur trim.
- Valenki (singular Valenok): Felt boots, used by the Soviet and Russian military during winter. Helped them win the Great Patriotic War, since their feet didn't freeze. Now have lost most of their popularity in cities.
- The military also continues to use jackboots for both ceremonial and field use, but in the latter case they are considered so uncomfortable that sneakers are often worn instead (probably because the standard Russian field jackboot is made of very heavy, stiff and generally uncomfortable type of cheap artificial leather called kirza; the ceremonial ones are better though). Regular combat boots are especially prized and are now gradually replacing jackboots from service (often being bought privately).
- Jackboots may be impractical in both garrison service and mountain warfare (the only kind of warfare The New Russia engaged itself in, to date), but they are the best thing there is in large-scale wars on wide open plains. That means, if someone invades Russia again, the boots will be useful.
- Shinel (greatcoat). Russian military is one of the last ones still using greatcoats, since they are somewhat practical during winter. Attempts to introduce more high-tech, light, winterized uniforms so far resulted in pneumonias and frostbites, largely from their improper applications by the undertrained officers too entrenched in the old ways.
- Big, high peaked caps are associated, among other things, with Russia, despite they are a new introduction to Russian uniforms. Smaller ones, though, have a long history in the Russian military, and a similar but even smaller civilian headgear, called kartuz, is indeed part of the traditional national costume.
- Traditional Russian military peaked cap, often seen on the heads of Tsarist (and some early Soviet, though in many cases that were the same people) officers in historical shows, lacked any stiffener and was therefore somewhat draped around its wearer's head like a beret, earning it the traditional nickname of "blin" — that is, "pancake".
- Later Soviet caps included a circular spring around its crown to give it some shape, and the front was raised a bit. By The Eightiesnote it became a kind of military chic to have a cap with the widest crown and the highest front, not unlike a traditional Banana Republic Generalissimo headgear, often dubbed "the aerodrome". After USSR fell, this look somehow got codified in the uniform regs, giving The New Russia the association with the Commissar Cap. Ironically, by the same time their wearers has noted the Sukhomlinov Effect in action (frankly, the caps started to look ridiculous) and begun a backlash against them, derisively naming them "Pinochet's hats", and throttling down on size and trim. In fact, the modern field and undress uniforms don't include a peaked cap at all, eschewing it in favor of a simple kepi or a beret.