Dancewear of the Middle Ages
The Sumptuary Laws were a set of laws that prevented extravagance in private life by limiting expenditure for clothing, food and furniture. These laws were made to control behaviour such as: wearing certain apparel, consuming certain foods and beverages (usually of alcoholic nature) and, hunting game in certain areas.
The word sumptuary comes from the Latin word which means expenditure.
In those day when you had company over for a meal you had to serve a specified number of courses depending on their class in the feudal system. If you were inviting a high church official to dinner, such as a cardinal, you would have to serve 9 courses. For guests such as bishops, archbishops, or counts you had to serve 7 courses. An ordinary government official would have just 6 courses.
In 1460 the government decided to ban wedding and social banquets in Venice, because they were considered too excessive. Foods such as partridge, pheasant and peacock also were banned.
Clothing and household goods were also included under the Sumptuary Laws, outlining to each class what they could own or wear. These laws were often directed to the growing lower and middle class.
These laws were largely ignored, and unenforced. There are no written laws other than in journals. These laws were meant mainly for the lower and middle class.
Riberio Alieen. Dress and Morality. Holmes and Meier 1986