Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Elizabethan Ruffs

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"

Clothing and Fashion - Elizabethan Ruffs

The Elizabethan ruff is one of the most recognisable items of Elizabethan Fashion. Women's fashion emulated that of a man. Frilled collars became more and more elaborate developing into the famous Elizabethan ruff, which was worn by both men and women.

Ruffs or Ruffles
Ruffs, or ruffles, started as a high frilled collar. Fashion then dictated a more feminine and seductive image for women which was achieved by opening the ruffle in front to expose the neck and the top of the breasts. The ruff was then constructed on gauze wings which were raised at the back of the head. The ruffs, or collars, framed the face and dictated the hairstyles of the age which were generally short for men and swept up look was required for women. Ruffs were pinned into place and often attached to partlets. The pleat or flute of a ruff was called a Purl which were sometimes edged with fine lace. Ruffs were sometimes added to the cuffs of sleeves. Laces or strings, called Band Strings, were attached to the opening of a ruff which were tied together to secure the ruff or band around the neck.

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Ruffs
Some interesting facts and confirmation of information about Elizabethan Ruffs can be obtained from the words of Philip Stubbes. A first hand impression of the fashions of the Elizabethan era are invaluable - but the Elizabethan style of writing can be hard going. The following information has therefore been taken from the points he made on Elizabethan ruffs:

  • The style of ruffs developed through the Elizabethan era
  • Ruffs were worn by men and women
  • The materials that ruffs were made of varying kinds of linen
    • Holland - Expensive, very fine linen
    • Lawne - Again a type of expensive, fine linen
    • Camerick - Expensive, very fine linen
    • His description of ruffs for men include their styles of a pointed white collar
    • The use of starch in maintaining ruffs
    • The use of supports and underprops to keep the ruffs in place
    • The practice of making ruffs in layers
    • Almost everyone had three or four ruffs
    • Decorated with lace, gold and silver thread and fine silk
    • Women's ruffs sparkling with decorations of the sun, moon and the stars
    • The length and style of ruffs - pinned up to the ears or laying over the shoulder
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