Before the revolution, when there was huge class diversity in Russia, men’s appearance varied enormously. Peasants, merchants, nobles, soldiers — here's how they all looked in the last years of the Russian Empire:
Portrait of an elderly man in a white hat, Nizhny Novgorod, 1900sI. Ivanov/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Portrait of four men from Saratov Province, 1900sUnknown author/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Non-commissioned officer of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment A.N. SinyavinPhoto from the archive of Igor Cheradionov/russiainphoto.ru
Nizhny Novgorod merchant Sergeev, 1900sMaxim Dmitriev/Audiovisual documentation archive of Nizhny Novgorod Region
Peasant from Chernigov Province (now Ukraine), 1900sKunstkamera/russiainphoto.ru
Grand Duke Konstantin Romanov, 1903St Petersburg State Museum of Theater and Musical Art/russiainphoto.ru
With the coming of Soviet power, nobles were stripped of their titles and fortunes. Then came the devastating Civil War and the Red Terror, followed by the short-lived New Economic Policy and relative freedom. During this time, there were lots of military men everywhere (in tunics without shoulder straps, since titles had been scrapped), as well as fancily dressed creatives.
Kuban Cossacks, 1927Unknown author/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Leading Silver Age poet Alexander BlokMoisey Nappelbaum/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Red commander Ivan Kashirin (left) and Komsomol member Alexei Pavlov, 1920sState Historical Museum of the Southern Urals/russiainphoto.ru
Film director and maker of Battleship Potemkin Sergei Eisenstein, 1920sAndre Kertes/Russian State Archive of Literature and Art/russiainphoto.ru
Portrait of a fisherman, 1925Mikhail Smodor/Kostromskaya Starina/russiainphoto.ru
Driver at the Leningrad Fire DepartmentUnknown author/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
When Stalin came to power, collectivization and industrialization quickly gathered momentum, as did the Gulag camp system, one of the most tragic episodes in Soviet history. Photographers were sent to large Soviet construction sites to chronicle the “idyllic” lives of workers and collective farmers.
Iconic Soviet photographer Alexander Rodchenko at the White Sea Canal construction site, 1933Anatoly Skurikhin/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Donbass miner, 1934Evgeny Khaldey/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Test pilot Vladimir Kokkinaki before his next flight, 1930sIvan Shagin/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Poet David Samoilov added the epithet rokovyie (“fatal”) to the word sorokoviye (“forties”), since in Russian they differ by just one syllable. It was a time of war, ongoing purges, hunger, evacuations, and inhuman living conditions. As for menswear, it consisted of military uniforms, greatcoats, and quilted jackets.
Radio operators in World War II, 1943Arkady Shaikhet/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Peasant Daniil Zernov with fellow villagers during WWII, 1943Arkady Shaikhet/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Submarine commander and Hero of the Soviet Union Valentin Starikov in the conning tower, 1942Evgeny Khaldey/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Militiaman in Crimea, 1940sEvgeny Khaldey/МАММ/МDF/russiainphoto.ru
Composer Dmitry Shostakovich, 1940sBoris Fabisovich/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
In the post-war 1950s, life slowly returned to normal; military overcoats were replaced by austere suits. Men returned to civilian professions, including farming the land and exploring far-flung corners of the Soviet Union.
Men, 1950sArchive of Alina Bashmakova/russiainphoto.ru
Metalworker at the Economizer plant and Stalin Prize winner Ivan Kartashev, 1953Semyon Fridlyand/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Young construction worker at the Volga-Don Canal, 1953Alexey Gostev/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Composer Nikolay Ozerov at the wheel of a Pobeda car, 1950sSergey Vasin/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
All-Union motorcycling competition, 1951Valentin Khukhlaev/Archive of Valentin Khukhlaev/russiainphoto.ru
The 1960s are invariably associated with the “Khrushchev thaw” after the harsh Stalinist regime: students, samizdat (self-publication of banned literature), smiles, and renewed construction of apartment blocks.
Moscow University students play the game “Guess who?”, 1960sVsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
By the campfire on a hike, 1960sVsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Two students recite poetry, 1960sVsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Cult 1960s poet Evgeny YevtushenkoOleg Mertsedin/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Youth, 1960sArchive of Olga Shitova-Belova/russiainphoto.ru
The 1970s saw the arrival of trendy fops, bell-bottomed trousers, outlandish hairstyles, as well as cult Soviet films.
Komsomol members, 1976Photo from the archive of Maria Deryabina/russiainphoto.ru
Cult Soviet actor and sex symbol Andrei Mironov, 1976TASS
Portrait of a man, 1970sKaskad Media Holding/russiainphoto.ru
By the sea, 1979Mikhail Dashevsky/russiainphoto.ru
Today’s 40+ generation is nostalgic about the 1980s, because it was their time! The Moscow Olympics, the first taste of freedom, hippies, oversized glasses, rock, and Freddie Mercury mustaches!
“Ejected in the last minute. Handball”, 1980Vladimir Vyatkin/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Artist Guram Abramishvili, 1987Sergey Rumyantsev/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Moscow, 1987Igor Mukhin/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Cult rock musician Viktor Tsoi, 1986Sergey Borisov/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Rockers, 1985Sergey Borisov/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
The 1990s saw perhaps the most radical changes of all: the collapse of the Soviet Union, the birth of a new country, and the opening up to the West. It was a time of snow-washed jeans and bold experiments, including fashion-wise.
First President of Russia Boris Yeltsin on the court, 1992Dmitry Donskoy/MAMM/MDF/russiainphoto.ru
Pop singer Valery Leontiev, 1992Yuri Abramochkin/Archive of Yuri Abramochkin
Men at a Moscow swimming pool, 1990sGetty Images
First Western stereo system, Moscow, 1990sGetty Images
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