Ruffle Me This

Photography: The Line

So here we are again, on point and on trend with our friend the ruffle.

A little known (unknown) historical fact about the ruffle is that is originated in men's fashion. It was inspired by the Spanish, others would argue German soldiers who wore two layers of shirts one over the other in the 15th century. Often they would return home from battle with the outer shirt torn to shreds; idealized for their courage, they in turn inspired the towns men to shred their own shirts in want of being affiliated with the glory of combat. As a result it wasn't uncommon for them to pull out the inner layer of cloth through the shredded layer for decorative affects, creating a wrinkled wave pattern in the material which went on to become a fashionable trend.

It was soon after this,  that most of Europe began to modify their clothes to have the same impact. First it was the string around the collar creating  pleats around the neck, then there was the Spanish ruff, an entirely separate piece that was tied around the neck. However, it wasn't until  the 17th century that the French mastered and designed the soft ruffle is still on display today. Men and women wore it around their wrists and their collars throughout the 15-19th century, in the most loud and proud of ways.

It is a sartorial detail that was forced out of men's fashion by the 20th century and deemed no longer acceptable. It became strictly affiliated with Southern femininity. And the ruffle in battle quickly became replaced with the Croatian Cravat during WWI.

There is something very appealing about the softness of the ruffle in contrast to the harsh realities of our world these days. Perhaps that has always been the case, even looking back. However, I find it interesting to note that the ruffle always has its moment when the world is too much with us. It has become a clear statement of delicate womanhood. Perhaps the world of fashion is also telling us that in a time like this, we could all us a little more feminine energy in our lives. -tM