Government Regulations

While women of Venice were harshly restricted from participating in society, they also had a limited amount of freedom to wear the clothes they wished. Even in 1437, there was an incident in Venice when women were threatened with excommunication for wearing gowns with long trains. After the era of the International Gothic fashion trend in the 1400s, where sleeves were very long and wide-bell shaped, the Signori delle pompe passed a strict law to regulate this style. This law took away the right of women to wear sleeves over a specified width and of a high-standing collar that touched the chin. If these laws were broken, not only the women were heavily fined, but also their husband or father, and the tailor. The Togati, an unusual Venetian custom in which all male patricians and citizens over 25 years old were apart of this elite group, passed several laws restricting what the women of Venice could wear. Regulations included the size of their sleeves, the amount of trim, and the type of fabric that could be used. The Togati took special pleasure in regulating the sleeve cuts because they believed that sleeves were symbolic of specific ranks and status in society. There were also regulations governing the expenditure on the fabrics that were used for these clothes. The Signori delle pompe ruled out clothing of gold or silver and also embroidery of metal threads and expensive silk cloths, along with a ban of long trains because of the amount of material that was needed to make these.


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