The Style Olympics: Russia

All eyes are on Sochi, so I’m starting the 2014 edition of The Style Olympics in Russia as well.

Don’t forget to enter to win a scarf or T-shirt (see the pics and contest details here) by commenting on this post or any and all of the posts in The Style Olympics series to increase your chances of winning.

Here’s my take on the fascinating evolution of Russian style.

Russian Hat
Photo by Emma Catherine Montague

The Russian Look:
Politics and the economy have influenced Russia’s current look and aspirations more than in any other country I’ve seen.

After the fall of The Soviet Union, Russian fashion did a total 180º.

After years of wearing rough fabric, utilitarian designs and drab colors (wearing bright colors was strongly discouraged), Russians went berserk for colorful Chinese and Turkish clothing. The quality wasn’t always great, but it was cheap — and the vivid colors, glittering rhinestones and wild embellishments were a natural backlash against black market blue jeans and subdued uniforms.

The emerging upper class refined this “more is more” trend, embracing luxury Italian brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Versace and Armani. Today most major fashion brands are represented in Russia.

Heels and sweaterdress
Photo by Din Muhammad Sumon

A crop of local designers and shops are putting their spin on Russian fashion and making it more affordable, but even basic wardrobe staples are more expensive in Russia than a comparable item would be elsewhere. Since everything is already expensive, the look (in urban centers, at least) is still about projecting an image of luxury and excess. And the most luxurious items continue to be imported from outside Russia.

Regardless of where they shop, Russians like to turn it up and turn it out. Russian men might go classic or funky (with a heavy dose of colorful Ts or studded jeans) but Russian women are always beautifully made up and love to rock body-con dresses, high heels and killer boots, regardless of the weather.

Outerwear is where Russia really shines. Fur has never gone out in Russia and both sexes rock dramatic furs and fabulous wool overcoats — often topped with the trademark furry Russian trooper hat, the ushanka (шапка-ушанка).

Russian Street Style with Overcoat
Photo by Jaanus Silla

Great Shops:
Kira Plastinina: The designer stocks her self-titled boutique and online store with cute, feminine and on-trend pieces for women.
Rehab Shop: This shop has an artsy, indie vibe (lots of leather, op-art prints and tough jewelry), stocks designers from all over the world and is so exclusive you have to be buzzed into the building.
Sela: A superstore for men and women, babies and kids. The current offerings feature lots of lots of prints (apparently a major Russian trend) and a familiar layered look that works in any major metropolitan area. They stock accessories too.
Ostin: This shop offers affordable mix-and-match basics for the whole family; men, women and kids.
Gloria Jeans: Fun, fast-fashion with a youthful edge. The shop stocks clothing and accessories for women. It’s sort of like Russia’s version of Forever 21.

Red Dress
Photo by Anastasia R.

Street Fashion, Bloggers and Photographers:
Neviskipodium: A street fashion collective that showcases what’s happening in Russian fashion at ground level.
Fashion Not Fashion: Anastasia from Moscow has a colorful, fun and romantic look. And she just had a baby, so her site offers up some awesome — and rare — maternity looks.
Russian Doll: Juliet is student in Moscow with great slouchy, casual style. She rocks lots of jackets, knee high boots and other comfy, layered looks that work well in other cold climates.
Lesia Paramonova: This designer’s super dreamy world, which is apparently made of white knee socks and gossamer fairy wings, may not be representative of Russia, but it’s beautiful and evocative look into her imagination. And I can’t stop looking at it.

Russian Sportswear
Photo by Dima Bushkov

A Little Light Reading:

Buro 24/7: This arts and culture website, created by Russian “It” Girl and street style darling Miroslava Duma, offers up-to-the-minute trends (I’m loving their Olympics coverage), arts and culture articles and a cool snapshot of Russian style for your closet and your home. If you only read one thing on the list, make it this.
Tatler: This Conde Naste publication caters to the posh set and has a lot in common with its sister publication in the UK.
Glamour Russia Fashion, lifestyle and fun features in a format that will be familiar to Glamour readers across the world.

Russian Girl in Coat
Photo by Mikhail Koninin

Get the Look:
Russian style is all about making an extra effort in your appearance and wearing the very best that you can afford.

Invest in a fabulous coat or a status bag or wallet. Try experimenting with a new make-up look or actually wearing those gorgeous but impractical heels in your closet. And get yourself one of those awesome ushanka hats! The weather is terrible here right now, so I think I might have to order one myself…

So what do you think about Russian style? Comment below and you could win! Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on February 28, 2014.

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

2 Replies to “The Style Olympics: Russia”

  1. Love the post Alicia (obviously)! Russia is a surprisingly fashion-forward place, at least from what I saw in my short time there. Also, thanks for the links, I will totally be checking them out!

What do you think? Comment here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.