Russian Costume

Russian costume has roots in Russian folk attire, which, as historians of fashion claim, reflects Russian national character. Bright colors, many embellishments, ornaments, and patterns show the cheerful nature of Russian people with the long-standing tradition of Russian folk art.


At the centre of the traditional Russian costume is the рубаха—rubakha—a shirt originally made of fine linen. The name comes from the word руб—rub—a piece of fabric. It was an important part of the wardrobes of both men and women, worn daily and on festive occasions, as well. The sleeves of the shirt were richly decorated with embroidery and were quite long—one needed to tuck them in to do manual labor. This feature has given rise to the saying—работать спустя рукава—literally translated as “to work with the sleeves un-tucked” —to work with the left hand.


Another item considered by some as the symbol of the traditional Russian costume is сарафан —sarafan—a floor-length dress. It is comprised of many components and can be very heavy. The name of this bright dress, which is predominantly red in color, comes from the Iranian language. Interestingly, sarafans were long worn by both women and men, and only in the and only in the 17th century did they gain the status as a symbol of femininity.