Paris Legalizes Pants

Paris Legalizes Pants

It’s been about 5 years since my last trip to Paris, so I guess the statute of limitations has passed, and it’s time for a confession: I broke a law.

Now, this isn’t a  Brokedown Palace-esque tale; the simple facts are that I’m a woman and I wore pants in Paris, which, until last week, was technically illegal. The Atlantic reports:

The law had its roots in the same thing so many French laws did back then: the revolution. Pants signified not only default masculinity; as the common uniform of the common man, they also symbolized the rise of the working class against the bourgeoisie. (The aristocracy regularly wore the blousing, knee-length britches known as “culottes,” giving the rebels one of the most delightful nicknames in history: “les sans-culottes.”) Female rebels, at the time, wanted the right to wear pants alongside their male counterparts… banning women from trouser-wearing was thus an effective way of banning them from the rank and file of the revolution–and of keeping them, basically, in their place.

Since then, the rule has become a sort of humorous curiosity, one of many bizarre laws that exist around the world. However, last week, tired of the sexist symbolism of the law, Minister of Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem struck it from the books.

So as you’re getting ready for your next trip to Paris, feel free to pack les pantalons.

By Janna Schulze