The French government has finally repealed an archaic law imposed on November 17, 1800 banning women in Paris from wearing trousers. This law had, in effect, already been rescinded because of its incompatibility.
According to this law, women had to obtain permission from the préfecture de police to wear trousers like men. The law was amended slightly in 1892 and again in 1909 to allow trousers only “if the woman is holding the handlebars of a bicycle or the reins of a horse.”
Since 1946, the French constitution considers men and women equal. In early 2010, the French launched a campaign to do away with the obscure 213-year-old law that made it technically illegal for women in France to wear trousers. According to the Nouvel Observateur, a group of 10 MPs submitted a bill in the National Assembly calling for the ordnance to be struck off the statute book. The then-President Nicolas Sarkozy reacted to this move and said in a magazine interview that parliament in the second half of that year the parliament would review old French laws that should be repealed.
According to Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French minister for women’s rights, the ban was incompatible with modern French values. “First of all, this order was aimed at limiting the access of women to certain offices or occupations by preventing them from dressing in the manner of men,” she said.