School Uniforms In The Soviet Union

The other day, mom forwarded to me a video she received from one of her Russian friends. The video was nostalgic in a horrible way. 

The background song declared that the best time in Russian/Soviet history was the 1970s, and the singer wanted to travel in time to get to that moment in history. 

The video featured the girls in the school uniforms with huge bows in their hair, young pioneers in red ties, old-fashioned ice cream, and lots of old propaganda pieces. All together looked pretty horrific, so when mo asked me how I liked it, I had to tell her the truth. Then she would go: well, these girls in uniforms with huge bows weren’t they cute?

I asked her: mom, do you remember the deal with these uniforms?? Most girls hated it because they were out of style or just plain ugly. But there was something else. Can you imagine that we had to wear the same dress for months without washing?!

Yes, you would always get only one dress for the school year. It was made of brown wool so that the dirt won’t be visible. But then, you were not supposed to wash a woolen dress because you would ruin it; you were supposed to take it to the dry cleaners, which would take at least a week. Now that I am thinking about t, t is possible that sometimes we would wash the dress at home, but then t would also be very infrequently.

What I remember clearly is how I was refreshing the dress every Sunday.

First, there was a white collar and white cuffs, which I saw on Sunday evening, and then rip off at the end of the week to hand-wash and iron and sometimes even starch.

We always had pieces of old cotton linen in the house to use for steaming the clothes. I would take one of these pieces, wet it, place it over each underarm part of my dress, and press with a hot iron. This procedure would help to eliminate the smell of sweat. I would also steam the back of the dress, which was always wrinkled from sitting.

Later, the cuffs were dismissed, and the collars were most often made with synthetic lace, so caring for them became easier. When I was in high school, they finally let the aprons go (before that, there was a black apron for every day and a white apron for occasions). 

I forgot all about that underarm business until I saw that video!

My beautiful picture

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

4 thoughts on “School Uniforms In The Soviet Union

  1. I didn’t mind sewing although whenever I did it it was out of pure necessity, but now that I think about having to wear the same dress for three months in a row for six days a week…

    Like

  2. Yeah, this was my nightmare. Somehow my family never even taught me that the dress should be washed at least under the arms when it is clearly needed, and I just went with all the sweat smears for months… I learned to do this partial washing only in my latest years of school — all by myself, just because I was tired from disgusting looks at me. Unfortunately, I did not even think about full washing of the dress all by myself and waited until mom would do it (I have not idea how often she washed it — probably only a couple of times a year? but we never used dry cleaners).

    I cannot even imagine now how we all looked and smelled then. The boys at least had shirts.

    Liked by 1 person

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