29 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK: Ruffs Don’t Float

  1. The Jane Seymour thing is not even a ruff or a collar.Looks like something stolen from a children’s play troupe.

    1. I think it is a sequined Peter Pan collar taken from a sweater previously worn by June Allyson.

      1. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT i THOUGHT!!! June Allyson is missing her Peter Pan collar and is she furious!

  2. Ah! Now I understand the nitpick & it makes total sense why you’d be annoyed by it!

    (On the plus side: ‘ruffs done wrong’ is an awesome standby complaint & snark week would be a lesser week without it.)

  3. Many costumer designers clearly see the ruff as a pretty necklace. No other excuse for many of these.
    But my main teeth-hurting nitpick is still hair…grown women with flowing locks, beach or otherwise…and I really hate pandering to the “modern audience”, clearly unable to admire or see the beauty of any women with her hair properly done for the period.
    Oh for a period drama, just one, without hair offenses…is there one? Possible Kate Beckinsale’s “Emma”, which I finally watched this weekend, and do not recall seeing locks flowing outside of the boudoir. I am sure there are more but probably not among the recently filmed…

    1. After reading Trystan’s explanation of what they are and how they’re supposed be worn, I absolutely agree with “Many costume designers clearly see the ruff as a pretty necklace. No other excuse for many of these.” I’m currently watching season 2 of A Discovery of Witches, and now I’ll be on the lookout for the notorious floating ruffs!

  4. I love that you explained the construction of the ruff first, because you often mention that the floating ruffs are incorrect but I didn’t understand why!

  5. But how else are these poor unfortunate women going to survive a ship disaster, but with floating ruffs.

    Yes I too nitpick said floating ruffs. But what gets me wanting to throw things at the screen are hair not pinned up and poly silk glitter fabric.

  6. Wow I hadn’t seen The Virgin Queen from 1955 and now…can you die of disdain? Hahahahahaha soooo bad! Thanks for this post you know I feel the same and I’m honored you used the ruff I made for the example. I learned it all from Noel!

  7. I am in this photo and I don’t like it. :D I blame the brown ‘Elizabethan Costuming’ book. It was good for a lot of things, but its prescribed method for ruff-making was “pleat a ribbon, sew it onto another ribbon and then tie the whole thing around your neck”. And so that’s what I wore, for years, LHC/Frieda-approved. It took me a while to learn the difference between “historical” and “for theatrical effect”.

  8. The latest disappointment is the second season of A Discovery of Witches, set in 1590. The man’s stuff is bad — leather trousers, open-necked shirts, no hats — and the women’s is even worse, Really sad when the set construction is so impressive all the way through. Seems wardrobe was an afterthought.

  9. Yes! I was so confused why Emma 2020 had a floating collar, like an 1812 homage to floating ruffs.

    1. In the early 1800s, it was a trend to have ruffled collars like ruffs! They were almost always attached to chemisettes (like dickeys or a half-shirt that tucked into the top of a gown’s neckline), very similar to partlets. So they still shouldn’t float, tho’ there might be exceptions since by then, the faux-ruffs weren’t made the same way, they’re just layers of ruffles/pleats.

  10. I wonder if the whole floating ruff idea started with the 18th-century ruched ribbon choker? That was a very popular fashion, and later in the Empire of Napoleon I when historical detailing in fashion was much in vogue, as well as standing lace collars inspired by the 16th-century open ruff, they also went in for layers of frilled lace so much bigger than the ribbon choker that they look like ruffs – some attached to a chemisette but some not. In fact from the front the ice-blue number from The Virgin Queen actually could be a not-brilliant attempt at a First Empire gown.

  11. It might just be me, but it almost looks like Mary in Seven Seas to Calais is wearing a partlet, it is just much more sheer than her lady in waiting’s? I haven’t seen the movie, though, so it might just look that way in the screenshot.

  12. Long time reader, first time commenter…oddly enough, I think the floating ruff might just have a historical precendence. The Casanova (1987) pic shook something loose in my brain and I suddenly remembered seeing floating ruffs in the 18th century paintings of Watteau—his painting “Fetes-Venitiennes” is one of many examples—but often these “galante” scenes have an curious feeling of romantic fantasy that only have a loose connection with the contemporary clothing of the time; most ruffs in his paintings (and a few other artists as well) seem to reference characters from commedia dell’arte, which in costuming style almost always references the 16th century, around when commedia dell’arte it was born.

    I hope this comment isn’t annoying because I truly LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog, please keep up the good work! Mwah!

    1. We are never annoyed by additional information presented in a positive manner! We only get cranky when people “well ACTUALLY” us ;)


  13. Update: did a little digging and found the 18th century portrait Madame Peletier des Forts by Jean-Baptiste Santerre featuring a definite floating ruff, but once again, because she’s holding a mask, it seems like the floating ruff was some kind of popular 18th century masquerade accessory…weird!

  14. cheers I’m amazed, however, that you could pick out that photo from the Tudors… because there are so many things wrong with it. Good idea to put the arrows, lol!

  15. Anne and her fellow masquers seem to be wearing their underwear as a costume. Bare arms were a huge no no in the 16th century, it was a matter of modesty and of survival. It was the Little Ice Age after all! There’s a reason fur trimmings were huge at the time.

  16. Hi, great post, love it so much! I just wanted to ask about this one type of ruff worn mostly in England in the beginning of the 17th century (e. g. https://cz.pinterest.com/pin/52213676906008060/). Is it some sort of a hybrid between the “usual” ruff and the open one with the construction under? It really looks like it is floating, no wonder some people would think that :D

    1. I suspect that, like QEI’s Rainbow portrait, there’s a bit of artistic license going on. It’s debatable that bodices were cut that low & worn unfilled, so there could be a sheer partlet worn. And by that time, the size of the ruff would require some kind of supporter (wire or cardboard) which needs to be tied or pinned into the bodice. Here’s an effigy photo from around the same time where you can see a bottom strap of lace connected to the bodice, & that’s another place to pin the ruff & supporter, since it’d need help — https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f2/c1/89/f2c189f7166c907d6c9ddf38d716e21d.jpg

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