Tuesday, 23 August 2011

School uniform, Moscow style

The Boys' school has just introduced a new dress code for it's students. Personally I'm not at all concerned about this; when we were still living in London Boy #1's school had possibly the most outrageous uniform in all central London, so really, the changes that have been instigated at the school here in Moscow are water off a duck's back.

Just to illustrate how bad his London get-up was, I was once having coffee with a fellow blogger and we were watching some children walk past from his then school. She was unaware that this was where he went. "Look at those poor little things, being made to wear that ridiculous outfit" she said. My answer? "Yes. Well... That's my son, the second from the back..." But I digress...

Back to the here and now, however. There are any number of parents at our Moscow school who are less sanguine about the new dress policy than Husband and I. Their issues range from the new uniform being hard to get hold of (true), to it's being pointless (who am I to question the administration?), to it's being a security risk as it makes the children identifiable as being from an international school when they are out and about. (Note, this uniform is so inoffensive that both my sons already had various items of it in their wardrobe, so I'm not sure that last holds water).

And then, of course, there are the 'only in Russia' concerns of some of the parents, some of which are directly related to the fact that many women here like to make the most of their femininity - and expect their daughters to do likewise. (And yes, I know that many women the world over like to do the same but ladies, we Brits are not only on a different page to our Russian counterparts on this matter, we are in a different book. As in, we are at the Magic Key learn-to-read stage, whilst they are somewhere around Tolstoy...)

Consequently, interpretations of the fairly basic school uniform for the girls can vary. Today I've seen custom-made pinafores, lace tights worn with pleated skirts, designer cardigans, cashmere sweaters, and sparkly shoes worn with knee-high socks.

And this afternoon, whilst chatting with a member of the school staff, I heard this apocryphal tale. At the end of last term, my acquaintance was manning an information desk designed to show parents what the new uniform looked like, and to give them contacts on where to obtain it. She was approached by a Russian mother who said, in high dudgeon, "I haff complaint to make about this uniform." Conscious that what came next could cover any number of problems, the teacher asked how she could help. "Vell. I haff complaint. My complaint is that this uniform is lesbian uniform!" And with that she stalked off.

Only in Moscow...


  1. Blimey. I'm glad I'm in the Magic Key learning to read section, then.

  2. Well yes, I would hope that young children are required to wear sensible shoes!

  3. I thinik my Other Half would like me to have one of those Russian lesbian schoolgirl uniforms for my own wardrobe. Are they really that hard to get hold of? Do they do mail order?

  4. Oh wow.

    I wonder what these Russian ladies would have made of my school uniform in Sydney? A khaki tunic worn over a white shirt and tie, with long woolly khaki socks and brown shoes. Topped, of course, with a khaki blazer. Then there was the hat which was so impossibly round, it would stay on a basketball but not on the average head.

    Not the most feminine getup!

  5. The women here in Korea are extremely fashionable and wear unbelievably high heels (everywhere) but thank God this does not extend to the school uniforms, which are very practical.
    Have those toddler beauty pageants made it to Russia yet? I bet the Russian version of 'Toddlers in Tiaras' (google it if you don't know it) would be terrifying.

  6. My Russian Sister in Law comes over here for a couple of weeks and spends ALL her time shopping and £1,000's in the process. Man.... I haven't even learnt the alphabet....
    So is the uniform 18 hole dm's, ill fitting jeans, a denim jacket and a pudding bowl haircut then?

  7. Iota, you and me both!

    EPM, oh, the school knows better than to try and impose a shoe policy...

    AIW, they DO do mail order. Maybe you'll find the address in your husband's favourites? (That was a joke, obviously)

    TM30'sL, it sounds charming dear, absolutely charming (said in my best Dame Edna voice)

    MsC, I would think it would be. Haven't seen it but who knows?

    Fiona, thank heavens, no. Russian lesbians wouldn't be seen in that anyway (unless it was Armani)

  8. That would have been a relief in our (Public Oakland) school where girls of 12 and 13 used to fight their mothers every morning (or just sneak clothes out) as they wanted to wear the shortest of shorts and lowest of tops. When we lived in London we used to see the kids with the mustard knickerbockers, that used to kill me...Btw, A shout out to you on my blog today in interview with Susanna from A Modern Mother

  9. Well, I had no idea! I hate the fact that school uniform turns into another chance for some parents to parade their kids in inappropriate clothes. Sounds like even more so in Russia.

    Glad to hear you have your sensible head on!

    Mich x


Go on - you know you want to...