Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/487

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369
DOMESTIC LIFE

narrow collars of divers colours, generally made of velvet, were much worn by the nobility. These began to grow in size and popularity during the reign of Elizabeth. As was usual in those days, the new fashion was introduced by the men, but the women were quick to follow in the adoption of the ruff. Ruffs were made of linen, often decorated with gold and silver thread, and adorned with jewels. They were expensive garments, and could be worn but a few times. In 1564, a woman became the great benefactor of English society. This woman was a Mrs. Dingham, wife of a Dutch coachman in the service of the Queen. Mrs. Dingham brought to England the art of starching. The use of starch gave the ruff a new birth. It could now be worn more than once; and, in a trice, the garment was within the reach of all. Elizabeth wore her ruffs closed in front, extending close under her chin; most women, however, who had fairer skin and shapelier necks, preferred to wear the ruff open in front.

The ruff was made of linen, much plaited, and starched stiff, usually with white starch. For a while yellow starch was fashionable, but the fad was of short duration. Starch was also occasionally used of other colours. Stubbes tells us that the women used "a certain kind of liquid matter which they called starch, wherein the devil hath