Rebellious in pants. Courtesy of mtblog.teenvogue.com
Last week’s headline in The Telegraph read: “A decree banning women from wearing trousers in Paris is still technically in force, it emerged on Monday, making the laissez-faire French capital theoretically stricter than hardline Sudan in the fashion stakes.”
The article went on to describe the origin of this law and its evolution over time.
- 1800: Law stipulates that “any Parisienne wishing to dress like a man ‘must present herself to Paris’ main police station to obtain authorization’”
- 1892: Amendment to the law states that trousers are permitted “as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse”
- 1909: An extra clause is added to allow women to wear trousers when “on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars”
Despite the fact that this law is still in place, it’s safe to say that pants (and the women who love them) are alive and well in Paris.
Thanks to icons like Coco Chanel (who did her part for women’s lib by championing sportswear as a viable—not to mention stylish—wardrobe option for women in the early part of the 20th century), today’s Parisiennes can be seen strutting the streets in styles as diverse as the uber-chic “skinny jean” to the borderline-laughable “harem pant.” And they wear them well, albeit defiantly—very few of today’s pant-wearers can be found holding the requisite “reins of a horse.”
Coco, fighting the Man in pants. Photo: Glamour.com
But illegal or not, pants are here to stay. Here’s the proof: