Elizabethan Era

The Tudors Era

Jacobean Era

Tudor Neck Ruffs Definition

One of the most distinctive items of Tudor fashion is the neck ruff. Tudor ruffs developed from the frilled laces collars that were very popular at the time. Over time the collar developed into a ruff and was won by both men and women alike. One of the main downsides of the ruff was that it was difficult to keep clean. The ruff also had to remain stiff and hold its shape, which meant the use of an incredible number of pins. It is little wonder that the pin manufacturing industry in England was booming at this time.

Definition and Description of the Tudor Ruff

The Tudor ruff was circular in shape and was constructed from several layers of either stiffened or crimped, or pleated frills which when stacked together would cover the neck of the wearer. The ruff was designed to cover the neck and shoulders of a man, and the neck, breasts and shoulders of a woman.

The way that a ruff was fastened could very. Some could be tied at the back of the neck with laces, depending upon the thickness and weight of the ruff it could either be laid upon the shoulders of the wearer, or pinned up to the ear. The ruff was another part of the Tudor wardrobe that could be decorated and ornamented as social standing permitted. The use of gold and silver thread was not uncommon, or the use of small pearls which would dangle around the edge of the ruff.

Materials Used to Make a Tudor Ruff

The most expensive ruffs, those that were worn by royalty and the highest members of the nobility would be made of lace. The finest lace, which of course was the most expensive was used. For everyone else there was a choice of three kinds of linen which could be used to construct the ruff. The choice an individual made would depend not only upon his purse but also on his social standing.

Two kinds of very fine linen were available; these were Holland and Camerick linen, both very fine in texture and both very expensive. A slightly less fine linen was Lawne. Although still expensive it was the most affordable of all. The ruffs of the Tudor ladies at the court could be decorated with silk and fine embroidery featuring symbols of the sun, moon and stars.

Changing Fashion and Design of the Tudor Ruff

When the ruff first came into fashion, it was just a step further than the ostentatious lace collars previously worn. Compared to the way that the styles and fashions changed this original ruff which first appeared in the 1560's was quite tame. The original ruff was only around two inches deep and three inches wide.

Men would wear the ruff high at the back and low at the front so that the fall of the ruff followed the line of the man's jaw, and would form a frame around his face. Throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth the design of the ruff became more and more elaborate. They were often edged with fine lace and dripping with small, delicate jewels.

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