Sat. Feb 16th, 2019

Charting the Unlikely History of Ruffles

From 17th century aristocrats to Jerry Seinfeld’s “puffy shirt.”



The ruffle’s watershed second in popular culture seemingly occurred when Jerry Seinfeld, the founding father of normcore, debuted his ostentatious “puffy shirt” on nationwide tv to nice LOLs and common SMHs (for the document it was a poet shirt, and it was superb). Outside of that, the ruffle’s declare to fame has just about been its affiliation with 17th Century portraits of noblemen being eaten alive by outsized collars. And but, it’s managed to stay round—for the final 600 years, in reality, and reaching a fever pitch as soon as once more for Spring 2019 as one of many largest traits of the season.

The ruffle’s capability to adapt lies in its inherent simplicity. At the tip of the day, it’s actually only a wrinkled piece of material. It is exactly this ease of imitation that has allowed the ruffle to face the take a look at of time and survive the ravages of ever-changing fashions. People’s enjoyment of trying like big, over-iced truffles clearly helped too. However, the origin of the ruffle was really much more humble than such a choice would possibly counsel.

So the place did it come from? How can Marie Antoinette, flamenco dancers, an notorious shirt from a nineties sitcom, and Spring 2019’s most prevalent development all share an affinity for a similar undulating piece of material? Join us, as we observe the historical past behind one in every of trend’s most enduring staples.


In 16th Century Europe (stick with me right here), it was widespread to put on two layers of clothes. German troopers started the follow of incising slashed patterns into the colorful, ornamental outer layer of material, revealing the extra plain layer beneath. It is speculated this got here into trend because it mimicked the ragged look of coming back from conflict—one thing like a badge of honour. These inside layers had been additionally liable to wrinkles, which quickly grew to become the pleb look du jour (I imply, inform me this dude doesn’t look stylish AF).

Elizabethan Era (1500-1600s)

Eventually this wrinkled impact was enhanced with the assistance of a artifical ‘ruff’—a large, pleated collar supposed to be worn individually across the neck. They had been stiffened with starch or wire, costly and time consuming to take care of, and gave the wearer the impact of holding their head up in a proud and lordly pose (Queen Elizabeth I used to be an enormous fan, natch). At the peak of its reputation, these aggressively outsized ‘cartwheel ruffs’ reached a diameter of 36 inches, which made it inconceivable to dine with out the help of elongated utensils—the final word in stylish dinner equipment.


With the arrival of lace collars, the ruff fell out of trend, and double layer material patterns ceased for use, seemingly as a consequence of a choice for displaying off the human kind (particularly that of the feminine’s, and particularly throughout the hedonistic courtroom of France). However, the ruffle impact was nonetheless thought-about fascinating, so it grew to become widespread for items of wrinkled material to be sewn onto the collars and sleeves of attire. Marie Antoinette was identified for her love of ruffles, thus cementing their standing in extravagant, opulent trend perpetually.


Ruffles endured into the start of the 20th century, though they had been utilized to the extra smooth silhouettes and rising hemlines of the flapper model.


Flamenco costumes closely featured ruffles, using their pure bounce to boost the motion of this speedy model of dance.


After the wartime rationing of the 1940s, a need for voluminous, indulgent fashions returned, and with it, the decadence of ruffles. These over-the-top shapes had been particularly favoured by couturiers like Dior and Balenciaga.


The seventies had been a time of hippie love and ethereal, floaty fashions—the best local weather for the extra structured ruffle of the fifties to be reborn. Bianca Jagger was the unchallenged queen of this motion, pictured right here at Studio 54 with ubiquitous white doves.


Likely essentially the most well-known ruffled gown in historical past, Princess Diana’s larger-than-life, fairy story marriage ceremony robe launched the model to a completely new era. Poufy, ruffled attire would go on to change into a trademark of the eighties membership scene.


The delicate, babydoll ruffled attire of yore had been re-appropriated throughout the nineties grunge section, with raveled lady rockers like Courtney Love bringing burned out, frilly slip attire to the lots.


Fashion’s present obsession with the ruffle is seemingly a hybrid of all of the iterations which have come earlier than—it’s a bit of ladylike, a bit of boho, a bit of subversive. The off-the-shoulder model appears to be one of many season’s favorite renditions of the model, and, fairly frankly, nobody rocks it higher than Emily Ratajkowski.

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