Ruffles have roots in the 50s and beyond, and are a display of feminity. Though ruffles are one of the most feminine female fashion statements, don’t let their recent image fool you. Historically, ruffles were unisex. In 16th-century Spain, soldiers wore multiple clothing layers, and the ends of their sleeves were slashed to show the fabric underneath. The natural wrinkle that appeared was then honed in on and recreated by clothing makers. They sewed flexible strings into their clothes. These strings were pulled tightly to give the renowned ruffled appearance.
A modern take on ruffles, Spring Couture 2013
Later on, both men and women’s fashion included ruffled neckties, called a jabot. Portraits of well known 18th-century figures show how much of an everyday accessory the jabot had become. From the likes of the royal Marie Antoinette, to the American revolutionist Alexander Hamilton, unlike how it’s seen as a statement piece today, the ruffle was everywhere. It had no gender association, and it was not until the 20th century when ruffles were deemed as unacceptable attire for males.
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Marie Antoinette private library in Versailles. @chateauversailles #chateadeversailles #marieantoinetteparis #marieantoinette #mariaantonietta #versaillesecret #versaillesprivé #rococo #luxuryinteriors #xviiiesiècle #xviiicentury #elisabethvigeelebrun #marieantoinetteportrait @igersversailles
Portrait of Marie Antoinette donning jabon at private library in Versailles
In the 1950s, Christian Dior’s “New Look” collection featured voluminous skirts compared to the more binded look that took precedence in the war years. These voluminous ruffled skirts were synonymous with the feminine and sweet feeling that is associated with women. Thus, in a decade where gender roles, specifically women’s roles were more vividly defined, highlighted, and sought out, the ruffle became more gender associated than ever. Actresses like Debbie Reynolds and Judy Garland with their pure images were great representations of the trend.
Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Today ruffles can be seen in anything from tops, skirts, and pants and can be worn very casually as a statement in any outfit! Popular options are a white top featuring ruffles at the sleeves in different varieties. Off the shoulder ruffled tops featuring waterfall ruffles as depicted below are favored. Tops with cascading ruffles are a popular option as well, also depicted below. Though white is a popular color for these tops, tops featuring ruffles are worn in various shades year round.
Ruffles have transcended time and are still going strong today. From their roots in 16th-century Spain, ruffles have lasted for decades and likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The next time you’re out shopping don’t be afraid to partake in this major 2019 fashion trend!