During this much needed time at home, I’ve been exploring old passions/degrees: Art and Fashion History, while perfecting others. I’m now talking daily French courses.
I’ve been honored to be featured on several Instagram accounts and blogs as of late. While doing so, I have discussed everything from Black women and luxury goods to the history of dressing in your “Sunday’s Best” in the African American culture.
These conversations which have transported me through time prompted me to revisit a particular subject in fashion that I have always found intriguing; Sumptuary Laws.
What are Sumptuary Laws you ask?
Grab an affogato (how to video below), this post will be short and sweet.
Sumptuary Laws were laws commonly enforced throughout the 13th and 15th centuries. These laws were set into place to prevent “extravagance” and “luxury.”
Oui mes amies! There once were laws that regulated what you could wear and what/how much you could eat.
Sumptuary Laws were put into place to preserve religious and moral grounds.
While the initial Sumptuary Laws were general, as time went on, the monarch began to create additional restrictive laws. But only for specific classes of people.
Enter Tudor Sumptuary Laws.
Henry VIII implemented a new set of laws that enforced: colors, fabrics, and trims.
Frankly put, these laws were enacted to maintain a social hierarchy. During the reign of Henry VIII, a new class of people developed, the Merchant Class.
The rising Merchant Class was a direct threat to nobility because this class of people (unlike the poor) could afford the same luxuries as those in court.
Sumptuary Laws have always fascinated me. As someone who has always dressed beyond my socio-economic status (our new fancy word for class), I couldn’t imagine being arrested or beheaded for doing so. When I was an intern making less than 19k a year, there were people in my agency who thought I was a deputy director because I dressed the part.
Let’s get graphic, below are a few very specific Tudor Laws:
How do you think the world would look today if we were forced to dress within our means? No lines of credit, no consigning, or resell markets.
Would your closet look entirely different if Tudors Law were our reality now?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Ciao for now 💋