A kosovorotka (Russian: косоворо́тка), commonly known in the West as a Zhivago shirt, Russian peasant shirt or Tolstoy shirt, is a Russian, skewed-collared shirt. The word is derived from koso - skewed, and vorot collar.
A kosovorotka is a traditional 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, though these are positioned off to one side, instead of centrally, as is customary with a typical Western 20th and 21st century man's shirt. If left unbuttoned the collar appears skewed, which accounts for the garment's name. The collar and sleeves of kosovorotka were often decorated with a traditional Slavic ornament.
The men's garment was worn loose and was 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 hung over the trousers. Children's shirts were often too long for those who wore them, and was the only piece of clothing on little boys and girls in the ancient times.
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 Revolution of 1917. The garment is also known as a tolstovka, or the Tolstoy-shirt, because the writer Leo Tolstoy customarily wore one in his later years.
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