There were two particular instances when some rather strict laws were put in force in Athens. The first was around the time of Solon in the 6th century BCE, while the second was several hundred years later, in the late 4th and early 3rd centuries BCE. A good number of Solon’s restrictions concerned the behaviour and appearance of women, what they could wear, who could ride in a cart, how different classes were to be identified. Now, some of this was to regulate the women themselves, but as several scholars have pointed out, a lot of it was to control their husbands. At this point in time, especially among the wealthy of Athens, a man’s wife and daughter’s appearances were a big part of how he displayed his wealth and power. By defining who could wear what and curbing the worst of the excesses, Solon reinforced the existing social order. He limited obvious social mobility to ensure that people were more concerned about class differences than about taking his power and tried to minimize social friction between men of the same class.
The second major instance took place in the late 4th century BCE when Demetrios of Phaleron ruled the city for the Macedonian king Cassander. Once again this was a man who needed to reinforce social distinctions. At the time, the wealthy of Athens could be divided into two groups: old money and new money. By passing strict sumptuary laws, especially those concerning funerals, he tried to curb displays of wealth that only fueled the antagonism between these two groups and maintain stability.
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves. New York: Schocken, 1995.
Small, David. "A Defective Master Narrative in Greek Archaeology" - Academia.edu
Shipley, Graham. The Greek World after Alexander 323-30 B.C. New York: Routledge, 2000.