March 01, 2006

Village Fashion

Outerwear in the village is determined not by the latest fashion trends, but by practicality and bare necessity.

Starting from the muddy ground up, rubber boots are the number one item without which a villager simply cannot survive. Spring, summer, or fall, rubber boots – ranging from the ankle-high galoshye, to shin-high boots, to knee-highs, to the full-on hip boot (bolotniki, meaning swamp boots) – are always in style.

During Soviet times, the local collective farm kept hundreds of cattle and horses. These were herded from the stables to the fields twice a day down the only road in the village. As a result, the road – which could hardly be called a road in the first place – was pummeled into a track of mud several feet deep. Thus, the only way for the villagers to even cross the road was to wear rubber boots. Nowadays, there are hardly any cattle left in the village and the road is relatively clean, but the habit of wearing rubber boots remains.

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