May 5, 2015

1943. Summertime Fashion in Moscow

The Third Summer of War
Girls walking in the Red Square around 1950. Photo by Yuri Krivonosov
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs
CBS Moscow
June 25, 1943

I thought you might be interested in just how the people of Moscow are dressing during this third summer of war. As the stylists would say, the motif this year is definitely comfort. (Moscow doesn't get as hot as Washington or Chicago in the summer, but the people seem to stand cold better than they do heat, and consequently the thermometer doesn't have to go very high before you see people start shedding their coats.)

The Russian women generally have two types of hate styles this summer. The first is an ordinary white or blue beret. The other is a brightly colored scarf tied around their heads.

The length of skirts varies from well below the knee—such as what was worn by American women six or seven years ago—to just above the knee in school-girl fashion.

And right now there is a great fad for pigtails and long braids. Russian women have lovely hair, and a lot of them let it grow. It's not uncommon to see a woman carrying a baby in her arms with her hair braided Pocahontas style down to her waist.
(As in all countries where the war has touched, there are no such things as silk stockings. It's true here too. But Russian women have ignored the shortage and simply go without. Most women wear ankle socks, and several times I've seen them wear men's socks full length, looking a little funny with checks and clocks running halfway up.)
(The most popular summer footwear are sandals. I've seen some made out of worn out automobile tires. The tire is simply cut into the shape of a show. Another thickness is nailed onto the heel—two straps are attached—and there you have a perfectly good pair of summer shoes.)
The people look better this summer than I have ever seen them. Most everyone has a sunburn from working in their victory gardens. But probably not one woman in a hundred has a new spring dress. However, the robust spirit of these people overcomes what their clothing lacks in chic or line or style. You just don't think about it over here, and somehow it seems a little foolish. You would no more ask a Russian woman if she has a new dress this summer than you would ask a Marine on Guadalcanal if he's wearing a new shade of blue in the middle of a monsoon.