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]

An Eco-Friendly Startup Is Converting Banana Peels Into Fabric for Clothes

A new startup has found a unique way to tackle pollution while simultaneously supporting sustainable fashion. Circular Systems, a “clean-tech new materials company,” is transforming banana byproducts, pineapple leaves, sugarcane bark, and flax and hemp stalk into natural fabrics, according to Fast Company.

These five crops alone meet more than twice the global demand for fibers, and the conversion process provides farmers with an additional revenue stream, according to the company’s website. Fashion brands like H&M and Levi’s are already in talks with Circular Systems to incorporate some of these sustainable fibers into their clothes.

Additionally, Circular Systems recycles used clothing to make new fibers, and another technology called Orbital spins those textile scraps and crop byproducts together to create a durable type of yarn.

People eat about 100 billion bananas per year globally, resulting in 270 million tons of discarded peels. (Americans alone consume 3.2 billion pounds of bananas annually.) Although peels are biodegradable, they emit methane—a greenhouse gas—during decomposition. Crop burning, on the other hand, is even worse because it causes significant air pollution.

As Fast Company points out, using leaves and bark to create clothing may seem pretty groundbreaking, but 97 percent of the fibers used in clothes in 1960 were natural. Today, that figure is only 35 percent.

However, Circular Systems has joined a growing number of fashion brands and textile companies that are seeking out sustainable alternatives. Gucci has started incorporating a biodegradable material into some of its sunglasses, Bolt Threads invented a material made from mushroom filaments, and pineapple “leather” has been around for a couple of years now.

[h/t Fast Company]

Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]


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