The Stylistic Rebellion of the Stilyaga

The rebellion of the Stilyaga was one of the most mediocre rebellions in Soviet Russia. They were either the children of the Soviet elite or were war orphans, and were able to afford to rebel through the way they dressed. The Stilyagi rebelled through their style of clothes and music because it was not a challenging rebellion. They were too scared to face the penalties that went hand in hand with critiquing the Stalinist order.

The Stiylaga were obsessed with America. Their style of dress, the slick backed hair, and nicknaming cities, such as Moscow, after famous American markers (such as Broadway) emphasized how infatuated they were with the American culture. If it was from the west, the Stilyaga wanted to wear it, dance to it, or personify it. They furthered their rebellion by speaking in slang that was not familiar to the Soviets, and they listened and danced to American jazz music, which was incredibly popular all around the world in the 1940’s.

Zoot Suit

Although the Stilyaga received a lot of criticisms from different newspapers and journals, they were considered trailblazers in unpolitical rebellions. They were admired and considered role models by all future rebels who were called to show their disagreement of the Stalinist order.

To catch a glimpse of what Stilyaga are like, I recommend this video:


18 thoughts on “The Stylistic Rebellion of the Stilyaga

  1. This was an interesting take on the stilyagi! I wrote about them too, and I think it’s interesting how this type of rebellion existed in the Soviet Union. The non-political nature of their movement is really interesting to me as well, and it changes how we view the ordinary people during the Soviet Union.


  2. Great post! It’s so interesting how they chose to subtly subvert Stalin’s regime through their clothing, names, and hair. It shows how people still retained a bit of individuality during such a dictatorial time. I get how the children of Soviet elite could afford to “protest” in this way because they were protected by their parents wealth and power. But, it is puzzling how war orphans could as well, I suppose they had nothing to lose!


  3. I thought it was interesting how you deemed this revolution a mediocre one compared to others. I think that is an accurate description of this rebellion, although it was a rebellion. I think this rebellion was interesting because it just was clothes.


  4. I found this interesting because throughout the course the forms of rebellion we have studied has been through the work of prolific writers writing about government, or through violent uprising, while this is everyday people rebelling through clothes without even having a specific ideology or goal.


  5. I think the Stilyagi are reflective of similar movements by young people in other countries. The cultural components of other countries has piqued the interest of many young Americans, and they embrace non-traditional fashion and music.


  6. This was a great post. I thought it was interesting that the Stilyagi were not rebels in the usual definition of it, instead they rebelled in how they dressed and acted.


  7. I liked how you stated that this was a mediocre rebellion, perhaps it would have been more powerful if they had tied themselves with a political statement, I think it definitely was a mediocre rebellion in comparison to stronger countercultures, however the fact that it garnered enough attention to make it into our readings and studies maybe suggests it wasn’t so mediocre?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So many good and different takes on the Stilyagi this week! I hope you all are reading each other’s posts, because they complement each other really nicely. I’m of the mind that non-conformism in an authoritarian system like the Soviet Union is always subversive at some level. So I share the discomfort others have noted about this being a “mediocre” rebellion. But your point is a good one — and the Zoot suit is Awesome!


  9. I like the point you amke about the Stilyagi being a mediocre rebellion. They rebelled culturally with their dress, but they didn’t rebel politically. Compared to the hippies in the US duringthe 1960s, these people were kind of wimps.


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