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Claire Wilcox

COMMUNIST DRESS Communist dress appeared in diverse guises in Russia and East European countries during seventy-two years of communist rule, and both similarities and differences between them were informed by the political, economic, and social organization of society in the respective countries. The differences between those countries were twofold. The first group of differences is related to dogmatic implementation of communist orthodoxy, while the second refers to the fact that Soviet Russia turned to communism in 1917 and went through a series of very different communist practices, from Leninism through the NEP and its re-introduction of semicapitalism, to Stalinism, even before World War II. Soviet-style communism was imposed on other East European communist states, and after 1948 they were forced to reject their own fashion traditions and to officially accept the centralized Soviet model of clothes production and distribution. In that way, the periodization of communist dress codes from the 1950s onwards followed similar patterns in Soviet Russia and the East European countries. Still, practices of dress were diversified. Contrary to the prevailing image of communist dress as uniform and gray, three styles of clothing—official, everyday, and subversive—coexisted in communist societies, even though all communist regimes initially rejected the notion of fashion as decadent and bourgeois.

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