It Is Now Legal for Women to Wear Pants in Paris

Ladies of Paris, you no longer have to fear arrest for wearing trousers in the French capital.

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ML Harris/ Getty Images
ML Harris/ Getty Images

Ladies of Paris, you no longer have to fear arrest for wearing trousers in the French capital.

It sounds très odd, but apparently a bylaw requiring women to ask permission from city authorities before dressing as “men” and donning trousers have been on the books for more than 200 years. On Jan. 31, the Telegraph reported, France’s Women’s Rights Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, declared the law effectively revoked, citing its incompatibility with France’s constitutional equality rights.

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The law, which was originally intended to prevent women from wearing the pantalons fashionable with Parisian rebels in the French Revolution, was amended twice throughout its history to make exception for women who happened to be “holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.”

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Of course, there have been attempts to repeal the law in the past, but it wasn’t really viewed as a priority with lawmakers. But last year’s application to revoke the bylaw, made by Alain Houpert, a member of the conservative UMP party, was heard. “This ordinance is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men, which are listed in the constitution, and in France’s European commitments,” Vallaud-Belkacem said in a statement last week. “From that incompatibility follows the implicit abrogation of the ordinance.”

Which is good news for the famously fashion-conscious Parisian women, for whom such a restriction would be the real fashion crime.

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