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Looking Too Stylish Used to Be Illegal

Throughout history, lawmakers have occupied themselves with making it easier to identify people by class. It was such a concern that there’s actually a specific name for these kinds of laws: sumptuary laws, which were made for the purpose keeping peasants from dressing, dining, or traveling more luxuriously than the upper classes.

The laws may sound horrifying today, but they were partly used to deter people from going into debt by eating and dressing beyond their means. It used to be easy enough to convince the world you were rich and powerful just by looking the part, and as a result, some people would blow their funds on fine clothes and extravagant feasts that they couldn’t afford. One Elizabethan law from 1574 speaks of:

“… the wasting and undoing of a great number of young gentlemen … who, allured by the vain show of things, do not only consume themselves, their goods, and lands which their parents left onto them, but also run into such debts and shifts as they cannot live out of danger of laws without attempting unlawful acts.”

That’s not to say that these laws weren’t also ridiculous. One English law dictated that a cardinal was permitted to eat up to nine dishes at a meal while the rest of the nobility all the way up to the duke could only eat seven. This law was, not surprisingly, written by an English cardinal

Then there’s the ancient Greek law stating that no free woman was allowed to be accompanied by more than one maid servant when walking down the street. But graciously enough, this law only applied if the woman was sober.

The sumptuary laws limiting clothing options got oddly specific. In England, prostitutes were required to wear their dresses inside-out and servants were forbidden from wearing pointed shoes and puffed and slashed sleeves. Only royals were allowed to wear clothing trimmed with ermine fur, while nobles could wear clothes trimmed with fox and otter. The color purple was something that also belonged exclusively to the royal family. 

Sumptuary laws eventually withered away along with the traditional concepts of the noble and peasant classes. Though they existed for a brief period in Colonial America, there are no laws in place today that would stop you from buying Beyoncé's latest award show outfit. 

[h/t: io9]

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Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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Pantone Names 'Ultra Violet' 2018's Color of the Year
Pantone
Pantone

Time to retire your green apparel inspired by 2017’s color of the year: The color experts at Pantone have chosen a new shade to represent 2018. As The New York Times reports, trend followers can expect to see Ultra Violet popping up on runways in coming months.

The decision was made after Pantone scattered a team around the world to search current street styles, high fashion, art, and popular travel destinations for the up-and-coming “it” color. The brand describes the winner, PANTONE 18-3838, as “a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade.”

Fashion plays a large part in the selection of the color of the year, but Pantone also considers the broader socio-political atmosphere. Some may see Ultra Violet as a nod to our stormy political climate, but the company’s announcement cast it in a more optimistic light.

“Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now,” it reads. “The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”

The color is associated with some of music’s greatest icons, like David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and Prince. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright also had a special attachment to the color and wore it when he was in need of creative inspiration. When it’s not sparking artistic thinking, purple is sometimes used to promote mindfulness in mediation spaces. So if you’re feeling stressed about whatever the new year holds, stare at the hue above for a few seconds and see if it doesn’t calm you down.

[h/t The New York Times]

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