Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nikolai Rostov's Hussar Uniform (War and Peace, 2007)

I have developed a serious thing for Hussar uniforms. Totally spiffy and dripping with gold braid, these just look so cool! The problem, of course, is that I can look at a woman's dress in a movie and evaluate its historical accuracy, but with uniforms I have no idea. In fact, if anyone has good sources for information I'd love to know. I am sure there are people out there who really really know their stuff when it comes to uniforms. From a totally ignorant but aesthetically appreciative point of view, I have been particularly admiring Nikolai Rostov in the 2005 War and Peace. Wow.

First he wears he puts on a shirt and pants (with braces). Look how high up those pants go.
Notice that he wears a black neckcloth with his uniform (and a really spiffy collar on that white shirt). That is the kind of thing I would never have anticipated. I wonder if it is actually accurate. For that matter, I wonder what this whole uniform is based on.
Now there's the dolman, his actual jacket. Look at the braid! Check out the buttons! And it has a cute little tail in the back.
Over that, a pelisse. You can see that when he is on campaign in the cold (Russia in winter), he wears the pelisse over his dolman and closes it. But in a much more spiffy and rakish fashion, he usually wears it slung over his left shoulder. I love it!
Then there are the accessories, of course. I have no idea what's going on with the sash, but I wish I did. The hat is... wow. With the scales and the tassel and the rosette... I love it! And he has a little satchel (apparently you call it a reticule... I'm having trouble with all the overlap in women's clothing and men's uniform terms: reticule, dolman, pelisse!). So spiffy!
And of course, I might prefer it in red. I'm not at all sure! Look at those boots, though. Beautiful gold tassles on Hessian boots. Does anyone know where to get Hessian boots?


  1. I just saw your post about uniforms and thought I'd jump in (very late) and say that the pelise is often worn over only the left shoulder (see it also in the red uniform further down) so that the right arm is free for sword fighting. This is also the case in the moveie version of Phantom of the Opera when Raul shows up at the masquerade ball in a uniform and pelise over only one shoulder. Very debonaire!

  2. Except obviously the right arm is free because it is more important for dancing! Haha.

  3. I think the little satchel is called a sabre-tache - goodness knows why. Wearing the pelisse over the left sholder not only leaqves the sword arm free, it also - to a certain extent - protects the left side from sword c-ts.

  4. Wearing the pelisse over the shoulder was *officially* to protect from sword blows, but in actuality because hussars liked to look awesome (and who can blame them after seeing the result?). The black neckcloth is accurate; black neckware was what the military wore when at the time all civilians tented to wear white ones. The Duke of Wellington was known to be a dandy and famously wore a white neckcloth into battle; a style later copied by his admirer, Napoleon. As for where to get Hessian boots, I have been searching for a pair myself for some time, but all I can find are custom ones, not off the shelf. Here is a link to a custom bootmaker in Hungary if you are interested (the prices are not on the website, but I'm getting the hussar boots made for £210 by them).

  5. The sash is generally known as a "barrel-sash". It's made up of a bunch of cords with free moving tubes (barrels) around them. In later styles the barrels were paired, and later still the whole things was just mounted onto a belt. Traditionally it was very long and you'd wind it round and round your middle, then tie it off in a decorative fashion, finally lining up all the barrels into vertical rows.