russian dress uniforms


His Imperial Majesty Tsar of all Russia’s Nicholas II.
By Valentin Serov.

These photographs of details are from the portrait of the last Tsar wearing the full dress uniform of the Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons) the British Regiment of which he was Colonel-in-Chief.

This stunning painting can be seen in the Regimental Museum of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Edinburgh Castle.


As part of his vast efforts to codify the organization of the Court and State, Nicholas I and Count M.M. Speransky published the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire in 1833. This massive set of laws incorporated everything pertaining to the Empire, from the Role of the Emperor, to the rights of Russian subjects. In addition to the 40 volumes of civil laws, there was a single volume reserved for the laws enacted during the reign of Nicholas I himself; and one of these laws was the Edict on Court Dress.

The edict specified that women at the Russian court were to wear “Russian Dress Uniforms.” (Paradnaya Plat'e) This was initially described as “a white embroidered silk gown, with an embroidered velvet overdress with long, open sleeves in the Muscovite style.” The skirts were rouched and fastened at the waist, held together by a gold cord. The shape of the skirt was bell-like and full, the sleeves slightly puffed at the shoulders. This was a combination of the current “Romantic” style of fashion, and the ancient Russian style. As a result, this costume reflected the Russian nationalist traditions so favored by Nicholas I, and its usage became law. These dresses were extraordinarily cumbersome and heavy, the bodices tightly boned. The dress trains were interlined and reinforced to support the great weight of the gold embroidery. Though picturesque, the dresses were unwieldy, and women of the court began to refer to dressing for Court occasions as “putting on the armor.”

While other courts moved on, changing and adapting the dress of their courts, Russia stayed firmly in its Slavic historical mode, and so, from 1834 until 1917, the unusual ethnic dresses of Russian court ladies became instantly recognizable, and a source of pride at home and abroad - Russian women stood out in foreign courts, and at home they made a unforgettable impression on visitors and natives.

Nick Nicholson:  Women’s Imperial Court Costume in Imperial Russia for APTM

Russian servicemen dressed in historical uniforms take part in a military parade on the Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, November 7, 2015. The parade marks the anniversary of a historical parade in 1941 when Soviet soldiers marched through Red Square towards the front lines during World War Two.
EUTERS/Maxim Shemetov