Fashion by minus 25: seven strategies to survive a Siberian winter

Peoplewatching in Siberian winter is insightful in terms of fashion. How can you feel warm enough and still look good?

On 18 February 2013, I spent a couple of hours observing people, sitting in the sunshine. This was in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, a city in the middle of nowhere in the Russian Far-East, 6.300 km away from Moscow.

Komsomolsk-na-Amure was created in the 1930s by Stalin’s administration as a model Sovietic city, and built by gulag prisoners, but has been quite abandoned by Moscow since the fall of the regime. It does not get horribly cold in winter, and that day the temperature was -25 degrees C (-13 F).

I entertained myself creating a typology of people based on how they were dressed and realized that there were 7 group of peoples that I have placed on a mapping:

mapping (2)

  • vertically: at the bottom, the Efficiency seekers are those who primarily want to feel warm and comfortable. At the top, the Appearance seekers mostly want to look good
  • horizontally: at the left hand side are those consumers who like to stand out and be noticed for their look. At the right hand side are those consumers who want to belong to the group and certainly don’t want others to pay attention to their look.

And here are the 7 types of people:

1. The investors

The investors have used all their economies to buy something which both keeps them warm and makes them look good. But a beautiful fur coat is not something everyone can afford, and we see some people with just part of the outfit. The luckiest ones are the ones who have the fur coat with matching chapka hat.


2. The sporties

The sporties are driven by the need to feel comfortable. No matter if they look like they are in the middle of a ski resort instead of in the city waiting for the bus. They feel warm, and that’s the most important.


3. The opportunists

The opportunists do not care about what they are wearing. What matters is that it is warm, and that nobody notices them for their look. This is why they wear whatever they find, as long as it meets their criteria. They will walk in the city with valenki, the traditional wool felt boots, if they have some.


4. The nostalgic

The nostalgic still shop at the Univermag and look pretty much like in the Soviet times. Almost 25 years after the fall of the regime, in such model-city for the Soviet regime, looking that much Sovietic is now clearly also a sort of fashion statement.


5. The socials

The socials are funny, because they always walk in matching pairs.


6. The compromise seekers

Finally, the compromise seekers are those who really want to look good, and are ready to compromise on their comfort for that. They will wear very light gloves, thin boots with high heels, leggings. Typically, these are young girls and you wonder sometimes how they hold it – if I was wearing the same as them, I would have lost a couple of frozen toes a long time ago already.


Is that it? No, I have promised you a 7th type, that’s right. And the 7th type is my favourite, which maybe has a tiny little bit to do with me identifying myself 😉 :

7. The losers

No matter what they wear, the loser are always cold. They walk around with this painful expression on the face, trying to keep their scarf as tight to their throat as possible, curling their toes in their shoes.


How about you – to which group do you belong by 25 degrees below zero?

271 - komsomolsk
This is me hitting the taiga, nearby Komsomolsk-na-Amure, in the exaggeratedly elegant outfit I wore during this winter trip in Russian Siberia and Far-East 😉

PS: I have written this satiric blog post as part of the Blogging 101 programme. Today’s assignment was to write a post that builds on a comment left on someone else’s blog. So I wrote this post building up on this post I really enjoyed about winter in Yakutsk.


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