It is a little known fact that the customs associated with Russian and post-Soviet garb in the workplace are deeply rooted in ancient Russian pagan mating and fertility rituals. What may seem like everyday, ordinary business dress actually requires hours - sometimes days - of careful preparation. As with many other primal customs, you will note the high importance of scent, color and plumage.
When it comes to office fashion for women in Russia, the sky is the limit. The idea is to stand out. Since Russia is filled with so many naturally beautiful women under the age of 25, and since women have outnumbered men ever since The Great Patriotic War, women must take that extra step to get a man's ever-dwindling attention. Color, color, and more color. Shorter, lower, and super-shorter. Note that despite (or perhaps because of) the Western tendency to associate these styles with prostitutes, Russian biznes ledies have a real penchant for zebra, tiger and leopard prints.
The rules for women's attire in the workplace are few and leave room for all sorts of fanciful interpretations. Makeup plays a major role. Foundation should be used liberally. Eye shadow should match whatever you're wearing. Pink sweater? Pink eye shadow. Lime green blouse? Lime green eye shadow, etc. Note that accuracy and skill with cosmetics products are really not as important as quantity.
Working female Russians must store a separate set of make-up and nail polish at their workspace. The workday morning begins with a healthy dose of powdering, then another coat of clear nail polish before adjusting mascara clumps and lip shine. Then they will have tea, follow-up on the previous day's gossip, and finally turn their computers on.
As mentioned above, scent is very important. Working females must ensure that people can smell them from at least one room away, even at temperatures when tears freeze. Professional Russian females are encouraged to spray their own signature scents in the air around themselves and their desks. This serves as a means of marking one's territory, and may sometimes trigger an intradepartmental spray-off. This tactic is especially effective when used to ward off expatellas.
This brings us to the next and final "rule:" if you've got it, flaunt it. And really, whatever you have should be flaunted. Bony chest? Let's see that clavicle, baby. Post-pregnancy baby fat? Wear one size too small to show off and accentuate your lower abdominal flab-tire. Perfect body? Then please, for the love of God, show it off!
Remember, no matter what:
DO: wear short skirts, tight-fitting low cut tops, midriff tops, see-through tops, etc.
DON'T: have any kind of body image complex at all.
A Russian man's wardrobe is traditionally quite modest, and should generally consist of: no more than 2 suits, no more than 2 sweaters, no more than 2 shirts, and one pair of socks.
Clearly the focus here is not on quantity, but quality. Russian men need to make sure they have a number of details in order, and they're just plain not as good as remembering stuff as women are - which is why we've developed a failsafe system to make sure you have everything you need on your Russian office wardrobe checklist before you walk out the door.
The Five P's:
The height of fashion in the 18th century, nothing screams "status!" to your Russian male coworkers like a pair of excessively Pointy Shoes. They should be black for most of the year, but you can wow your female coworkers with your versatility in the summertime, when you bust out your white or baby-poop-brown pointy loafers woven out of pleather - and wear them with no socks! Klass!
A suit is not a suit without a tie. Splash of color? Hold me back, yo, I'm talkin' full on color tsunami! Russian businessmen require Pimp yo' ties - these should be shiny and have little to do with so-called "color scheme" of the rest of your ensemble. You're trying to show off your individuality, after all. Pick a tie that really makes a strong statement like: "I can spend $250 on a tie but I am incapable of tying that tie properly."