Did you ever wonder how Russian women look so fashionable during the cold winter months? It’s so difficult to keep warm and be so elegant! How to dress like a Russian woman in winter? Here are their secrets!
Winter in Russia is something only Russians can survive. We know this from history. In January (when it is the Orthodox Christmas) the average temperature in Moscow is around -10 and winter lasts for five months.
For the curious traveller, winter Russia should be on his/her bucket list for a few reasons. One reason is to see the country in its most typical season, even if this is challenging for you. To make this trip possible and enjoyable, one should do like the locals – when in Russia, dress like a Russian in winter!
Russian Winter Fashion
There are few things you will notice while wandering the streets of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the most visited cities of Russia. The fur coats and hats are very common among all people and can be found in different sizes, models, colours.
After spending some days in Russia during the coldest period of the year, you start to understand why fur is so popular here.
Russian people use these natural materials for centuries and while now there are other synthetically produced thermal clothes available, the traditions cannot be overridden.
Russian women are famous for their ability to stay stylish and active in cold weather. To be stylish and stay warm, they use lots of layers, wool sweaters, scarfs and gloves, and oversized coats to cover all the layers! Traditional Russian boots that I know from my childhood in Bulgaria, are the valenki. Made entirely of wool felt, they might not be looking fashionable but no doubt will keep your feet cosy and warm.
You might be thinking that all these fur products so popular in Russia are a bad tradition. But in the past, the synthetic was non-existing and people all over the world used fur to survive the cold climates. You can always count on the faux fur coat and still look just like a Russian.
How To Do Dress Like a Russian in Winter: FUR
What many of the winter tourists learn quickly after their arrival, is that investing at least in a good fur hat or ushanka hat can make a lot of difference. Having a fur coat like many of the Russian ladies have is a big investment and not for everyone. If you don’t feel ok parading your fur coat on the streets, a faux fur coat will help you with the style but with keeping you warm. Instead, you might want to buy a good parka with faux fur hood.
How To Dress Like a Russian Woman in Winter: WOOL
Wool is the second most important material for your Russian clothing. While you are looking to buy clothes for your Russian winter style fashion, you should splurge with some good quality, fine wool tops. Layer them for maximum warmth. Another extremely good investment is buying a traditional Russian scarf. The best known are the scarves with distinctive floral designs traditionally produced in Pavlo Posad near Moscow.
These scarves are made of 100 % wool, need special treatment like a hand wash and dry clean only, but if you take care of them well will serve you for a really long time. I should mention that using these scarves like ‘babushka’ – covering your head, can be very practical. On top of your ‘babushka’ scarf, you can use your parka’s hood. It is especially practical if you use the city metro as the underground is much warmer than outdoors.
While my scarves are in the traditional cream and black, there are also delightful blue, vibrant violet and elegant grey shawls to complement your style – at home or in Russia. If the Pavloposadsky-style shawl is not something you will see yourself wearing, maybe the Orengbur shawl is a better fit for your personal elegance.
How To Dress Like a Russian Woman in Winter: Layers
Layers, layers, layers – this is a not a new winter clothing rule, but in Russia, you should master it. As I said, most of these layers should be made of fine wool to keep your body warm but also to let it ‘breathe’. Experiment and you will find the best option of layering for your needs. Some other clothing elements that you might consider for layering are cashmere long dress, a merino wool turtleneck sweater and merino wool leggings.
Let’s not forget the essentials. I did regret that I didn’t invest in thermal underwear before going to Russia! I probably would have gone with this Long John set for women, because my ultra-warm parka, wool sweaters and socks helped but were still not enough to keep the warmth for hours.
Dress Like a Russian Woman in Winter: SHOES
For this trip, I bought a good pair of Italian leather boots, lined with sheep wool.
Even so, the boots were not enough to keep my feet warm during the long hours outdoors; especially in Saint Petersburg. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Russian ladies wearing “regular” winter shoes while walking in the city. Not only they were not wool-lined but also were on high-heeled.
Well, you and I can’t survive cold as these ladies do. Check my suggestions for comfortable and warm shoes for cold weather travels. It is better to be prepared if you want to enjoy your winter trips no matter how short or long they last.
If you feel the cold easily, then in Russia your choice of footwear is that much more important. Whatever shoes you use in Western Europe, they will always be a step behind the shoes you need in Russia.
As you can see, it is not difficult to dress like a Russian and adopt the Russian winter fashion rules. Mix and match a few of the local style elements, invest in quality footwear and underwear, use colours and … walk as if you are the last Russian princess Anastasia.
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