Ruffles have been fashionable for hundreds of years, both for men and women. I remember them being a huge trend back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but lying low in the ‘90s. They started reappearing in the mid ‘00s, and saturated the market a few years later. I remember how hard it was to find a blouse, top or dress without some sort of cascading or waterfall ruffle on it back then. I guess retailers thought that ruffles were an easy way to add garment interest. Ruffle Mania died down about six years ago.
Fast forward to today and ruffles are a fringe trend that is gaining momentum. First there was the rebirth of the peplum, a subtle form of ruffle, a few seasons ago. And now, true to the ample variety that is characteristic of 2014 fashion, there’s a larger assortment of a straighter, simpler and more architectural ruffle alongside the flouncy, poufy and frilly variety.
Ruffles might not be your thing, but I believe that there is a ruffle for everyone. Soft, stiff, large, small, subtle, statement, gathered, cascading, flat, poufy — take your pick. Large flat ruffles made of soft fabric that drape well tend to look more subtle. Ruffles made of straight lines sans gathers look quite modern. And ruffles both in soft or stiff fabrications tend to look less precious and twee when they are in black. Small ruffles with lots of gathers and volume veer into frilly and poufy territory, and are often an acquired taste.
My clients run the gamut with ruffles. Some love the frilliest of ruffles and happily wear them on all sorts of wardrobe items. Some prefer soft waterfall ruffles that are flat, and stiff architectural ruffles that are straight, because they make less of a statement. Some love a little romantic flouncy ruffle on a sleeve, the hem of a skirt, or down the front or side of a dress. Some draw the line after peplums and that’s it. And some won’t wear ruffles in any shape or form.
I have a complicated relationship with ruffles, and go through phases of liking them a little, and not liking them at all. I like all the ruffled items in the examples below, but don’t want to wear them on myself. I loved how Duran Duran wore ruffled shirts with hard-edge black suiting back in the ‘80s. That to me was the height of Ruffle Fabness. Seinfeld’s ruffled pirate shirt always makes me smile. I also like Valentino’s architectural rosette ruffles, which is one of the reasons my Valentino satchel is close to my heart. As long as the ruffles are large, flat, straight and subtle, I will probably like them in small doses. It’s when they become overly round and voluminous that I don’t like them for my own style because the effect is too maximal. But I can absolutely appreciate a voluminous ruffled look on others.
Over to you. Tell me about your relationship with ruffles?