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Illustration of a man in a kosovorotka shirt

Kosovorotka (Russian: косоворотка) is a Russian, skewed-collared shirt. The word is derived from koso - askew, and vorot collar.

Description

A kosovorotka is a traditional men's Russian shirt, long sleeved and reaching down to the mid-thigh. The shirt is not buttoned all the way down to the hem, but has several buttons at the collar (unfastened when the garment is pulled over the wearer's head), though these are positioned off to one side (regional styles vary between left and right), instead of centrally, as is customary with a typical 20th and 21st century man's shirt. If left unbuttoned the collar appears skewed, which accounts for the garment's name.

The garment is worn loose and is not tucked into the trousers, but instead belted either with a conventional belt, a rope, or a rope-like tie. The tails of the garment will hang over the trousers.

Illustration of a man in a kosovorotka shirt

Generally associated with Russian peasants, the kosovorotka was worn by peasants and townsmen of various social categories into the early 20th century, when it was rapidly displaced as an everyday garment by more efficient and less elaborate clothing after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The garment is also known as a tolstovka, or the Tolstoy-shirt, because the writer Count Leo Tolstoy customarily wore one in his later years. Since the late 20th century kosovorotkas appear mostly as souvenirs and as scenic garments of Russian folk music, song and dance ensembles.


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