Women In Paris Told They Can Wear Trousers

Women In Paris Told They Can Wear Trousers

Women in Paris have finally been told they can 'wear the trousers' after a 213-year-old ban on donning the clothing was revoked.

City chiefs had originally issued the order in 1800 forcing women to seek permission from police if they wanted to "dress like a man".

The order was later amended in 1892 and 1909 to allow women to wear trousers if they were "holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse" but it officially remained on the books.

A French politician has now decriminalised potentially thousands of Parisian women by saying that the law is incompatible with modern French values.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister for women's rights, said in a statement that while the order had not been taken off the statutes, it had been made irrelevant by changes in French law.

She said: "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.

"This order is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men. From that incompatibility stems the implicit abrogation of the order."

The order was originally issued following the French Revolution when Parisian women demanded the right to wear trousers in their attempt to win equality.

At the time, working-class revolutionaries were known as "sans-culottes" for wearing trousers instead of the silk-knee breeches (culottes) favoured by the ruling classes.

The regime that took power after the monarchy was deposed is thought to have been afraid that true equality for women would undermine its power. It used orders like the banning of trousers as a way of keeping them in their place.

Women's dress continues to stir political passions in France with Cecile Duflot, the 37-year-old Green housing minister, criticised last May for wearing jeans to the first cabinet meeting of Socialist President Francois Hollande's new government.

She was later subjected to jeers and wolf-whistles while wearing a floral summer dress in the National Assembly.

A number of women also broke parliamentary protocol by wearing jeans during an extended debate at the weekend over France's planned legalisation of gay marriage.