Detail from a painting of The Marquise d'Aigurandes by F. Drouais, 1759
In eighteenth century France, lace sleeve ruffles were a very important fashion accessory. The sleeve ended just above or just below the elbow to show off the lace ruffle to best advantage. The ruffles could be single, double or treble, with each layer cut to enhance the effect of the lace.
Sleeve ruffles evolved during 18th century (as fashion is wont to do):
Early 1700s: Ruffles are slender and shaped, tapering from a deep central motif.
1720s: Double ruffles are popular.
1730: Shaped ruffles were often attached to muslin upper ruffles.
1750s: The weeping ruffle, which consisted of three layers was introduced.
1780s: Ruffles declined in popularity as the preference for simpler, lightweight, informal styles of dress such as the muslin chemise took hold.
Who knew that lace sleeve ruffles could be such an important accessory?