The Russian women's costume was based on the "sarafan" (a kind of sleeveless dress).
Sarafan is probably the most debated garment, since there is no clear connection between the dress itself and the name “sarafan.”
Until the 17th century, “sarafan” or “sarafanets” is found in sources as a name for men’s long garment that buttoned up the front.
However, there are names (“shushun,” “feriazi,” etc.) for a women’s dress put on over the head
that later co-existed with “sarafan” as terms for women’s light clothing worn over a shirt.
Thus, what later became known as “sarafan” probably existed in period in some form, but by other names.
The researchers suggest that an original name of the dress sounded like "feryaz'" [fe-RJAZ].
This word means "clothes of Feryag people".
The sarafan originated in men's costume, and women began to wear it only in the 16th century.
The sarafan had shoulder straps, but no sleeves or waist.
Women pulled them on over their heads and then fastened them in front with metal or wooden buttons.
The fabric for everyday sarafans was homemade, while expensive imported cloth was used for holiday wear.
Finished sarafans were decorated with lace, precious stones, and apliques of gold thread.
In both cases, the fabric was closely woven and bright colored.
The sarafan was worn unbelted to hide contours of the figure and deemphasize waist and bosom.
Belts were used only for undershifts; outer garments were not gathered at all.
On the contrary, sarafans in no way revealed the physique of the wearer.
The waist-length garments of the earlier period were transformed in the 16th century into a sort of
open sleevless vest, vut with many little gathers that could disguise either a round belly or amciation.
The "sarafan" ensemble became widespread in Russia at the turn of the 18th century
and consisted of a shirt, "sarafan", belt, and apron.
Women in Russian History: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Century By Natalia Lʹvovna Pushkareva, Eve Levin.