We’ve come a long way, baby.
French officials have officially invalidated a 213-year-old order that forbade women in Paris from wearing pants. City chiefs had put the order in the books in 1800 requiring women seek permission from police if they wanted to “dress like a man.”
The order was issued on the heels of the French Revolution when working-class Parisian women were demanding the right to wear pants in their fight for equal rights.
Along the way, in 1892 and 1909, the order was somewhat loosened so that women who were riding a bicycle or a horse could wear pants. Today, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister for women’s rights, decreed in a statement that while the order had not been officially taken off the books, it has been made irrelevant by changes in French law.
“This order was aimed, first of all, at limiting the access of women to certain offices or occupations by preventing them from dressing in the manner of men,” she stated. “This order is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men. From that incompatibility stems the implicit abrogation of the order.”
Legally permitted and socially acceptable may be two separate things, however. When Cecile Duflot, a 37-year-old Green housing minister, wore jeans to the first cabinet meeting of Socialist President Francois Hollande’s new government, she was widely jeered.