Monday, March 1, 2010
It's most unlikely that the lovely Jessica Alba was consciously channeling the Elizabethans when she wrapped her scarf around her neck like a ruff. But the visual and sartorial effects are so similar. The face is framed, the neck stays warm, and a ring of color or lace above the collarbones subliminally denotes nobility.
Silly Puritan Phillip Stubbes disagreed, writing in 1583: if Aeolus with his blasts, or Neptune with his stormes chaunce to hit uppon the crafie bark of their brused ruffes, then they goe flip flap in the winde, like rags flying abroad, and lye upon their shoulders like the dishcloute of a slut. [bad idea to diss the Red Queen, Phillip!]
Anyway, if you're interested in the historical precedents for this look, there is a great visual gallery of ruffs here.
If you're interested in actually recreating an Elizabethan ruff with a ring of linen, a starch water bath and a curling iron (!), instructions are here.
If you simply want to wear one of your scarves in a fetching way, wrap it around ruff-style. The best materials for this treatment are chiffon, gauze, and cotton web (seek out army-surplus scarves--also known as scrim scarves or shemaghs), which will provide volume without weight, which, as the days warm, is exactly what you want).
(photo below, German Elle, February 2008)