Ruff CollarA ruff collar is a neck accessory that was popular in Western Europe between the 16th and 17th centuries. Ruff collars are easily identifiable by the many pleats used to form a length of fabric into a narrow or wide platter shape that wraps around the circumference of the neck.
The ruff collar originated as a practical accessory designed to keep clothing from becoming dirty at the neckline. These collars were small and rather understated bearing a resemblance to later forms of the collar. At this time period laundered clothing was more of a luxury than a common practice so it made much more sense to dirty a small washable collar that an entire tunic.
Ruff collars quickly became much more than a practical accessory as their popularity grew. In fact as their popularity grew so too did the diameter of ruff collars. With the discovery of starch and perfection of underwire support structures some of the more extreme ruff collars reached over a foot in diameter. Today ruff collars are not part of day-to-day fashion and only seen at costume parties and/or Renaissance fairs.