Shopping for Clothes
Buying clothes in a foreign country can be an interesting experience. Not only will you have to deal with potentially different fashion sensibilities, you will have to adapt to a new system of sizes and learn a culturally appropriate way of communicating with salespeople and other shoppers. During Soviet times when goods were few and far between, Russia was known for long lines of frustrated shoppers ready to buy just about anything. Fortunately, this has changed dramatically. Today, major Russian cities are jam-packed with fashionable stores and boutiques, all filled with expensive, trendy merchandise.
), clothes, and shoes.
A Russian proverb says “.” In English, it can be loosely interpreted as “People are met according to their dress, but sent off according to their intellect.” Today the desire to follow the latest fashions is common, especially among young people who are willing to spend a considerable portion of their salary on brand name products. In general, looking fashionable is a way for people to show off themselves and their prosperity.
Sometimes young Russians spend more money on “keeping up appearances” than any other aspects of their lives. Women especially are prone to spend a lot of money on the way they look, often choosing feminine and sexy clothes as opposed to more relaxed styles. Don't be surprised to see a lot of people of both genders wearing furs in the winter. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has not yet made an impact on clothing choices in Russia. Long and cold Russian winters make a thick warm coat and a pair of well-insulated boots a necessity for everyone.
Russians use European sizes, both for clothing and shoes. Shop assistants might be able to help you “convert” your size; however, it might be easier to try on several sizes to see which one fits you best. You may also find it helpful to look up a conversion chart before you leave or keep a cheat sheet in your wallet.
Although Russians usually do not wear traditional national dress, for many people the Russian (a Russian wool headscarf often decorated with images of colorful flowers) constitute important elements of a traditional folk costume. See the list below to learn more vocabulary for clothing items and popular types of shoes.
Like Macy's in Manhattan, there are several Russian stores that are known nationwide, including (Children's World). All three are department stores located in the very heart of Moscow and have a long history.
Rules of capitalization are different in Russian. Usually only the first word in a title is capitalized, as opposed to English, where most of the words in a title are capitalized. The preceding and following store names provide examples of this Russian language quirk.
. These stores often sell clothes, household goods, and food products.
Remember that abbreviations act as regular nouns, for example, acquires the ending –e, as in the following dialogue:
Following are several expressions that are helpful to know in order to communicate with salespeople in stores as you are buying clothes:
How can I help you?
I'd like to buy …
Allow me to show you this item.
How much does it cost?
This (costs/is) expensive/cheap.
This suits you (very much).
This looks good on you.
This model fits you well.
Where is the checkout desk?
Can I try this on?
Where do you have a fitting room in the store?
This is too small/big for me.
What size is this?