Russian Boys' Clothes: Early 19th Century

Figure 1.--This unidentified print shows a Russian peasant boy and his father. He wears a baggy tunic that would become the inspiration for the Russian blouse. He also wears baggy trousers and goes barefoot. HBC would date the image to thecearly or mid-19th century.

Russian in the early 19th century was the most backward country in Europe. It's huge reserves of manpower and the force of the Russian winter helped to defeat Napoleon and reverse the course of European history. The great bulk of the Russian people were mired in the feudal system. They were serfs on huge landed estates with no contact with western thought and culture. There labor support a wealthy airistocracy which prefered to speak Russian and in fact looked with distain on the culture and people of their own country. The middle class which proved the back bone of Western European nations was very small and less important in Russia. Boys clothing reflected these dichotomies. Peasant boys wore loose fitting blouses and baggy trousers and went barefoot. HBC is unsure as to just when this style was first worn by Russain men and boys, but it probably dates from the 19th century. The loose fitting tunics with high neck collars were the inspiration for the Russain blouse which became popular in Europe, especially France, during the early 20th century. Boys from wealthy families were dressed in the latest Parisian fashions. British and German styles were also influential.


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Last updated: February 7, 1998
Created: July 31, 2000