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From Shakespeare to street style: how to pull off a ruffled collar

J.Crew blouse, $128, shoes, $318 through www.jcrew.com. AllSaints vest, $328 through www.ca.allsaints.com. Wilfred pants, $145 at Wilfred (www.wilfred.com) or through www.aritzia.com. Vince Camuto tote, $300 at Hudson’s Bay (www.thebay.com). Styling by Matthew Chow/P1M.ca; hair and makeup by Vanessa Jarman for Rimmel cosmetics/P1M.

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Back in the Elizabethan era, stiff, often outsized ruffled collars were elaborate status statements. This season, the ruff returns, but with those fussy folds thankfully deflated into styles more suitable to the rat race than to courtly intrigue. The effect, however, can be just as regal. Here are the rules for sporting them successfully.

– Alhough today's ruffs have shed their past extravagance, they can still feel too fancy for an office environment, so tone them down – literally – by choosing structured, almost masculine pieces in neutral tones such as blush or beige. Tailored pieces will also offset the over-the-top femininity of such collars.

– Unless you're spending your summer performing Shakespeare in the park, you'll want to avoid large ruffs altogether. Look to Honor's spring 2013 show (above left) for guidance, especially how designer Giovanna Randall presented beautiful, delicate collars that stayed close to the neck.

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– To make the collar the main event, be mindful of your mien, pulling your hair back and away from the face and your makeup stark and simple.

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