In the United Kingdom, as in other modern liberal democracies, there are few, if any, restrictions upon one’s choice of habiliment. There have in the past, however, been repeated attempts in most countries and civilizations—from the Romans (and indeed earlier civilizations) onwards—to strictly control aspects of apparel, by legislation. They were motivated by political, moral or economic considerations. However, these sumptuary laws, as they were known, were generally a failure, for many reasons. Those who wished to ignore them often could do so with impunity. The frequency of such legislation is a sign both of the perceived importance of such measures, and of their failure. Yet the authorities persisted, despite their inability to suppress extravagance, or control expenditure. [Excerpt].
Cox, Noel (2006) "Tudor Sumptuary Laws and Academical Dress: An Act against Wearing of Costly Apparel 1509 and An Act for Reformation of Excess in Apparel 1533," Transactions of the Burgon Society: Vol. 6.
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