The Soviet Union faded into history long ago but for Russian women dressing gowns remain a sartorial fixture. If you were to visit a woman in Western Europe and your hostess opened the door in a dressing gown, you would think that you mixed up the day. In such a case a visitor would probably apologize politely and gracefully refuse to come in for a cup of coffee. A woman walking around her flat in a dressing gown might be either ill or just dragged herself out from a bed where she would like to return. But in Russia things are different. In almost all cases Russian women who have lived most of their lives in the Soviet Union customarily wear dressing gowns at home.
Very often these dressing gowns are appalling items of unintelligible color and shape and are worn over silk blouses. The wearers of these dressing gowns might also be wearing sophisticated silk stockings or panty hose and very old shapeless slippers on their feet.
Why do Russian women do it? The question might even be rather immodest. In a country where women need to keep their balance while walking on icy streets while also wearing high heeled boots, comfort is not an argument. It is considered as your civic duty.
And the fact that Russian women use a dressing gown to protect their other garments is also not an argument. In public Russian women like to show off their clothes. But they are not accustomed to doing so at home. At home a Russian woman is a different person, probably a better person. It relates to her soul. However when Russian women start to talk about soul, they stop to understand themselves. The phrase "dressing gown" does not take its origin from a similar German phrase that means bathrobe. In fact it comes from Arabic and means a silk home dress with a sash. In the tsar's times it was worn by noble women to show the whole world that they did not need to work.
One very famous Russian nobleman was Oblomov. He is the protagonist of a novel of the same name written by the Russian writer, Goncharov. Oblomov was a good man but he would lie on the sofa all day in his dressing gown, thinking about world problems and he was completely maladjusted to life. This phenomenon in Russian life is now known as "oblomovschina" meaning to be idly lazy. But this was completely opposite to the practical objective of working Russian women.
And after 100 years of history a dressing gown is now an integral component of Russian women's fashion. In the past dressing gowns were made of a material Russian women can only dream about. When a Russian woman wears a dressing gown, she talks differently and sings different songs and tells angry anecdotes about the power elite. A dressing gown for a Russian woman was a signal that she had returned home and had left outside the threshold of her house the boring image of a Soviet woman laboring through the whole day. And Russian women love cosmetics.
Nowadays in Russia a dressing gown is considered to be a little bit conservative, but it is still a favorite item occupying its niche among home clothing of Russian women. It is made of soft, pleasant materials that cling to the body and is transformed from a shapeless sack into a womanly dress gown. Sometimes these gowns are of a more complicated dress cut and some feature coquet details like trimming of a collar, ruches on the sleeves and close fitting of the waist silhouette. In such attire a Russian woman can cook and take care of the house but also receive unexpected guests.