A Psychic Reinvention of the Elizabethan Era


Peter Paul Rubens, "Portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino" 1606

The conclusion of the initial plague year brought about speculation of a second, equally-exhilarating Roaring Twenties to match the first. Our time spent rotting away in pajama bottoms, stuffed to popping with takeout and claustrophobic sludge, is, according to many internet-dwelling fortune tellers, going to give way to hedonistic revelry the likes which have not been seen for a century. To me, these predictions pulled from the future seem more Dionysian in nature: a flood of wild, celebratory sin complete with incessant intoxication and succumbing to our collective animalistic urges.

This is all well and fine━sublime, really━but I must add my own twist to this crystal-ball hypothesis: we will all be wearing Elizabethan neck ruffs to our Bacchanals.

Looping, starched lace as ornate as the world’s grandest palaces and mausoleums. The neck ruff was once used as a status symbol across Europe, one that indicated disgusting amounts of wealth and class superiority. It took hours to set and could only be worn once, before body heat and weather would ruin its precarious shape.

The neck ruff is perfect for a world newly-wiped clean of pestilence and scourge. Due to the stiffness of the starch, the wearer of the neck ruff is forced to keep their chin straight up, their eyes preying on the world moving around them. “Nothing will be taken for granted anymore!” social media posts screech every minute of every day. “We will love being out and about and alive!” These proclamations will turn truthful once their authors don a ruff. Necks will no longer bend to bury faces in screens or books, but rather stand tall and defiant on a planet which tried to destroy us and failed.

The dichotomy between what we see online and what we encounter in “real life” is severe. In the supermarket, you’ll see blue jeans and Skechers and zip-up hoodies and blue jeans again; online, niche fashion brands are tripping over one another to flaunt chunky-knit neon cardigans and purses made from the severed faces of sex dolls. In our promised quest to live life to the fullest once life resumes once more, we will (in theory) do things for our own enjoyment, rather than social media clout, which will include wearing what we like whenever we like.

And oh, how eye-catching these neck ruffs will be. With the tried-and-true 16th-century design and today’s penchant for the whimsical, our faces will be framed with modernistic high art. No longer will ruffs be an indicator of wealth, but rather a blank canvas on which individuals can distinguish and introduce themselves.

Perhaps the solitude has reached my brain, and my claims are ridiculous. Only time will tell, but, then again, time is not always truthful. For now, we’re all gazing into our scrying dishes, trying to discern what comes next. May I recommend a rigid, frilled collar to help with that posture?


©2020 by Tonitruale.