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Peter I decree “On wearing clothes in the Hungarian manner”

14 January 1700

4 (14) January 1700 in Moscow was declared a personal decree of Peter I "On wearing clothes in the Hungarian manner."

The decree prescribed to "the boyars, okolnichies, Boyars’ Council members, courtiers, stolniks and solicitor, nobles of Moscow, clerks, residents and servicemen of all ranks, and the clerks and sales people, and people of the boyars, in Moscow and other cities, to wear clothes, Hungarian coats, outer ones down to the garter and underwear shorter than the outer, the same way; and the clothing to be worn from the Twelth-day of this 1700 by those, who have the time to make it; and those, who have no time, should also make it and start wearing no later than this Cheesefare Week”.

By its type, Hungarian clothing was similar to Polish. For the rich vestments were used such materials as silk, velvet, lawn, patterned brocade, wool fabrics. Fur valued dearly and signified wealth. Clothes of nobles and wealthy people, both male and female, were decorated with embroidery of Renaissance motifs, laces, galloons, braids, and jewelry made of gold and silver with precious stones, pearls, and wide use of colored enamels. Clothing of Hungarian type was cut free, and its length was close to the old Russian clothes.

In December 1701 there was a new decree of the emperor "on wearing of the German clothes and shoes by people of all ranks and on use of German saddles while riding”. Peter I ordered to wear foreign clothing not only to court nobles and officials, but the majority of Muscovites and residents of other cities. In 1705, was published a decree “On shaving beards and mustaches by people of all ranks other than priests and deacons; on taking fees from those who fail to obey it, and on issue of badges to those paying fees". Subsequent decrees, had repeatedly committed the nobles, the boyars and service class people of all ranks "to wear German clothing on weekdays, and French one - on holidays”.

From 1701 to 1724 there were issued 17 different decrees, regulating the rules for wearing of European-style clothing, the types of fabrics, trim of downright or festive clothes.

Men’s suit, implemented by Peter I reforms, formed at the court of Louis XIV and consisted of a caftan, man’s sleeveless jacket and trousers. Caftan was long, down to the knees, narrow at the waist, clinging tightly to the figure in the upper part, with groups of deep folds on the skirts, with cuts at the center of the back and side seams, which made the hem wide, and the clothes easy to move in, especially when riding. Caftan was usually worn wide open, so that jacket would be seen, or with a few central buttons fastened. Jacket was made shorter than caftan, without folds on the lap, always without a collar, with long narrow sleeves without cuffs. Knee pants were worn short, above the knee, with a wide belt, densely gathered on the back. The suit was complemented with lace jabot and cuffs, leather shoes with a blunt toe, on heels, decorated with bows or buckles, and silk stockings. Daily suit was made of cloth or linen cloth and decorated with fabrics of contrasting colors, or just buttons. Such a suit could be worn by any city-dweller. The suits for the aristocracy were made of more expensive fabrics: silk, velvet, brocade or very fine cloth. Preserving the unity of the cut, the clothing varied depending on its purpose and social identity of the owner.

This clothing was quite different from traditional Russian men's clothing, caftan with long sleeves, long dress made of velvet, buttoned from top to bottom on the set of buttons, fur coats and fur hats with a high crown and a velvet top.

The reform had also affected women's costume. Heavy sundresses, hiding body shape and closed shirts were pushed to the background. According to the new fashion women were dressed in wide and deep décolleté French dress - robes with strongly drawn at the waist by a bodice, with sleeves to the elbows and wide skirt. These dresses, like men's suits, were decorated with artful embroidery and lace. Women also had to curl their hair in ringlets and enjoy a bright decorative cosmetics (paint and whitewash).

Thus, the major forms of European costume – “Saxon, German or French clothing” - had replaced ancient Russian costume, entirely dissimilar to them in regards of construction and decoration, given rise to new notions of beauty, new aesthetic ideals.

New rules took root with difficulty. People resisted the European clothing; decrees had to be repeated, stuffed animals wearing clothes samples were to be hung out at city gates, fees to be taken from the disobedient persons, and the masters faced severe punishment.

After the death of Peter I men’s noble costume changed in accordance with all-European fashions. The Russian way of life finally adopted the French coat, waistcoat, culottes and powdered hair.

Lit.: Каминская Н. М. История костюма. М., 1977; Мерцалова М. Н. Костюм разных времён и народов. Т. 2. М., 1996.

From the Presidential library materials:

Полное собрание законов Российской империи, с 1649 года. Т. 4 (1700-1712). СПб., 1830. № 1741. С. 1.