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Elizabeth Petrovna, who ruled Russia from 1742 to 1762, was known for being elegant, extravagant, and a devout patron of the arts. Under her reign the Russian court came to be considered as the most splendid in Europe, mostly thanks to the beautiful balls and elaborate masquerades, which were open to all.
Every Tuesdays, though, all women were ordered to attend the balls dressed in men’s clothing – and every man had to wear women’s gowns. The men especially hated those occasions, as they had to wear thigh corsets and voluminous skirts with petticoats. It was not unusual for men to fall to the floor while dancing, unused to the clothes.
If most guests hated the balls, the Empress herself loved to dress in men’s clothing, mostly because she knew she looked good. Elisabeth had long, slim legs, and reportedly hated how the fashion of the time forced her to hide her body shape under layers of skirts; so she created the weekly balls to have an occasion to dress like she wanted to. As far as historical moments go, this one’s definitely inspirational.