Russian School Uniform Through the History

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September is a month when Russian children go to school and their parents obtain daily routine of doing homeworks with their offspring. Yes, in Russia it rarely happens without help of adults, because nobody wants to see academic failures of their kids. Schoolchildren have gone back to wearing school uniform several years ago. Back in the 1990s they were free from this obligation, but now in most schools of the country nobody stands out and looks generally the same as others.

Though Russia is not the country where the phenomenon of the school uniform was born, it has a nice interesting history through the centuries.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Although the organized form of education appeared in Russia earlier, school uniform was first mentioned only in 1834. This is when Nicholas I decreed to wear special civil uniforms in gymnasiums and schools of higher education.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

A sample of the uniform enacted by Nicholas I.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

A sample of the uniform enacted by Nicholas I.

The uniform was worn everywhere – at school, in the street, during holidays. It was a source of pride and made high school students special compared to all other teenagers. The uniform had a military look: peaked caps, tunics and great-coats. Only basic colors, emblems, design of buttons and edgings could differentiate one uniform from another.

The first school uniform for girls appeared in Russia in 1764 at the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens founded by empress Catherine II.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

A graduate of the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Students of the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Students of the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens.

The next century brought Russia many different schools and gymnasiums for girls but each institution was striving to invent its own unique uniform.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

High school girls in Russia of the XIX century.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

High school girl in Russia of the XIX century.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

High school girls in Russia of the XIX century.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

High school girls in Russia of the XIX century.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

High school students in Russia of the XIX century.

After the revolution of 1917 the All-Russian Central Executive Committee decided that all attributes of education are relics of the bourgeois past. Academies were not separated from gymnasiums anymore, the bourgeois school uniform passed into oblivion together with gradation of schools. The authorities didn’t have money to provide all state educational institutions with school uniform, and parents began to buy ordinary clothes for their kids.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

School graduates in 1917.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Students after the revolution of 1917.

Since 1949 the seven-years education became obligatory and students began to wear identical uniform. Boys wore gray-blue tunics with a patent-leather belt, trousers that matched the color of tunics and peaked caps.

Girls wore dark brown dresses and aprons – black on odinary days and white on holidays. Girls had to wear their hair braided, bows had to match the color of aprons.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

School in the 1950s.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

School girl in 1956.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

School boys in the 1950s.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Parade uniform in the 1950s.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Schoolchildren of the 1950s.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Schoolchildren of the 1950s.

Due to demilitarization in 1962 tunics of boys were replaced with jackets. Girls’ uniform practically didn’t change.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Some pupils probably didn’t like the changes.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Half wool gray school suits.

Russian School Uniform Through the History

Pioneer uniform of the 1970s.

After the collapese of the Soviet Union the general school uniform receded into the historical distance. Since 1992 it has been up to school what uniform to establish for their students. Everything they need to do is to register the dress-code statement in a local normative act of an educational institution.

1 thought on “Russian School Uniform Through the History”

  1. Boys military schools are very popular in Russia today in 2019. A brand new one is located in Petrosavodsk, Karelia. I’ve seen it many times and it is the largest construction project in that city at this time. It just opened this month for the new school year. Putin is a big fan of military schools for boys.

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