In Celebration of Pants: Wily Parisiennes Fight Law with Style

by Tory Hoen
first imageRebellious in pants. Courtesy of

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.

Picture 2Photo:

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.”

cocoCoco, fighting the Man in pants. Photo:

But illegal or not, pants are here to stay. Here’s the proof:

black pantsPhoto:
plaid and pantsPhoto:
riding pantsPhoto:
woman in jeansPhoto:

Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Tory Hoen

After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of's Guide To Life After College. View Tory Hoen's Website

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