CLOSE

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]

Original image
Target
arrow
This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
Original image
Target

For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
\

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do Shorts Cost as Much as Pants?
Original image
iStock

Shorts may feel nice and breezy on your legs on a warm summer’s day, but they’re not so gentle on your wallet. In general, a pair of shorts isn’t any cheaper than a pair of pants, despite one obviously using less fabric than the other. So what gives?

It turns out clothing retailers aren’t trying to rip you off; they’re just pricing shorts according to what it costs to produce them. Extra material does go into a full pair of pants but not as much as you may think. As Esquire explains, shorts that don’t fall past your knees may contain just a fifth less fabric than ankle-length trousers. This is because most of the cloth in these items is sewn into the top half.

Those same details that end up accounting for most of the material—flies, pockets, belt loops, waist bands—also require the most human labor to make. This is where the true cost of a garment is determined. The physical cotton in blue jeans accounts for just a small fraction of its price tag. Most of that money goes to pay the people stitching it together, and they put in roughly the same amount of time whether they’re working on a pair of boot cut jeans or some Daisy Dukes.

This price trend crops up across the fashion spectrum, but it’s most apparent in pants and shorts. For example, short-sleeved shirts cost roughly the same as long-sleeved shirts, but complicated stitching in shirt cuffs that you don’t see in pant legs can throw this dynamic off. There are also numerous invisible factors that make some shorts more expensive than nearly identical pairs, like where they were made, marketing costs, and the brand on the label. If that doesn’t make spending $40 on something that covers just a sliver of leg any easier to swallow, maybe check to see what you have in your closet before going on your next shopping spree.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios