The hems were slashed open horizontally—as if a ruffle was in danger of spinning right off the garment.
early 14c., "to disturb the smoothness of," perhaps from Old Norse hrufla "to scratch," or Low German ruffelen "to wrinkle, curl," both of unknown origin. Meaning "disarrange" (hair or feathers) first recorded late 15c.; sense of "annoy, distract" is from 1650s. Related: Ruffled; ruffling.
"ornamental frill," 1707, from ruffle (v.).