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Elizabethan Lady

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Elizabethan period... The time of Shakespeare and the ridiculous new fashion: the ruff.

The ruff was usually made of a starched material, pleated and bulky around the neck, most often right underneath the chin. Larger and larger ruffs came about relatively quickly. In my opinion, I'm glad it stopped at long last!

My ruff here was made out of a 3 inch wide piece of sheer ribbon. Gathered in about three or four horizontal segments along the length of it and folded between the gathers. Although it may not seem it, it is do-able!

Other things to keep in mind about the Elizabethan age, natural curves were not 'in'. Bodices were made stiff and conical and hips were made ridiculously squared on the sides. Hoops grew to such a point during the course of history that they had to start making them oval so they could get through doors and in carriages (sideways) while still having the wider front view.

The underskirt in this costume is seperate. Another option would have been a kirtle (an A-line dress). Either one or the other was used because almost all of the over-gowns were slit up the front, typically displaying a decorated front panel of the skirt or kirtle. (In my project I simply chose a print that mimicked a brocade and centered that to the front of the skirt.) As a note, I have heard the skirt also termed a "kirtle", but it seems to be more frequently referring to the full-length dress.

Little additions like the extra piece of trim wrapped in her hair created the more elegant look like a noble court would have expected in that time.

Mary, Queen of Scots c.1565
1. Very similar gown

Queen Elizabeth I
2. When ruffs ruled the world (or at least England)

Queen Elizabeth I, c.1575
3. Notice the similar triangular neck opening

"O Fates, come, come, Cut thread and thrum" -Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream