From The Traje de Flamenca To The Modern Ruffle, An Evolution Of A Feminine Ideal

Ruffles have served a long tenure throughout fashion history. Most identified with the traditional Andalusian gown created by the Spanish Roma, the traja de flamenca was created to compliment a woman’s lower body while dancing or walking. As it grew in popularity, the traditional gown became a part of Spanish fashion culture both on the Iberian Peninsula and in it’s South American colonies, and has been so popular that it now serves as a cultural costume.

Other examples of the fashion phenomenon of ruffles occurred in the cancan dress at Paris’ infamous Moulin Rouge and even on the American frontier, where women paired sturdy calico prairie dresses with a hint of ruffle on the hem.

Ruffles were always associated with the feminine ideal, with it maximizing as the ruffles increased. However, the new ruffle of the 21st century are more stiff than those of yesteryear and are paired with clean lines and minimalist silhouettes. The new ruffles do not emphasize femininity, but as a social reference.

The Modern Ruffle


Images: Co (Co), Altuzarra ( Yannis Vlamos/, and Delpozo (Luca Tombolini/, via

Unlike the past where ruffles were (at times) the only embellishment available for women of lesser means, sculptural variations have become accents for the rich. The shapes of these sculptural ruffles today serve as an art piece that reflects the contradictory feelings of today. The pairing of clean lines with swirling edges channels the public’s current hopes for the future, but also the troublesome worries of today’s world. This contradiction is also present in the fashion world where consumers are demanding faster access to fashion, which means increased manufacturing and production with a greater chance of unethical working conditions. This negativity is balanced with the hopes of technology, like the 3D printer, which will revolutionize how we make clothing.

The way humans speak through clothing constantly evolves, even with the classics. Although this curving accent will always be associated with the Romani people of Spain, there’s another side to this pretty ruffle.


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