Dressing as the Russians do

McKenzie Moser, left and Caj Johansson, right, pose in traditional Russian robes featuring bright, lively colors.
McKenzie Moser, left and Caj Johansson, right, pose in traditional Russian robes featuring bright, lively colors.

On a chilly, gray winter day in Russia, fur-covered heads and long fur coats crowd the streets. Upper-class women click and clack down the sidewalks in their high-heeled boots, while men in suits hurry alongside them.

An interest in the world of Russian culture has piqued for many in honor of this year’s Olympic games in Sochi.

Clothing varies from country to country. According to Logan Smith, a student at BYU who served a mission in eastern Russia, Russians dress to look good and take pride in dressing to impress.

Christine Shepard, who served a mission in Moscow from 2007 to 2009, said Russians place a high importance on their sense of fashion.

“(Russians) really wanted to be in style and had boutiques all over Moscow,” Shepard said. “They knew all the latest designers.”

During the winter, it is common for Russians cover their heads in shapkas. Shapkas are generally made from sheepskin, rabbit or muskrat fur; however, for the animal lovers out there, faux fur hats can be found. The hat covers the head with a thick layer of fur, and two large flaps hang down over the ears to keep them warm. The flaps can be tied under the chin to help keep the entire face feeling pleasantly heated.

According to Shepard, women in Russia love their fur coats, high-heeled boots and bedazzled jeans. No matter the occasion, they always want to look their best.

For Americans taking a trip to Russia for the Games, fitting in won’t be too hard. Russians wear typically the same kind of clothes found in America, although for most Russian women, it is a definite no-no to ever leave the house in sweatpants.

“I feel like (Russian) kids in our age group, who could afford it, would dress similar to how (Americans) do,” Smith said.

In modern-day Russia, people typically wear darker colors during the winter, but according to Elise Dungan, a grad student at BYU who served in the Russia Yekaterinburg mission, traditional Russian clothing consisted of bright colors and busy patterns. Often, the clothing was made of a rich red fabric and embroidered with brightly colored threads in various designs.

No matter the event or weather, people in Russia are concerned with staying trendy. This February, bundle up, grab a shapka and let the Games begin!

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