Until last week, a Paris law dating from the French Revolution made it illegal for a woman to wear trousers. Amendments to the law in 1892 and 1909 allowed a woman to wear trousers as long as she was also holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse. The restriction was created when Parisian Revolutionary rebels adopted trousers instead of bourgeoisie knee-breeches, in what was coined the ‘sans-culottes’ movement. However, female sans-culottes rebels were forbidden to wear trousers.
Previous attempts to repeal the law were thwarted by officials who said it was an archaic, un-enforced law, and not a priority to retract (even though France does enforce a law that outlaws religious garb in government.) It was decided the symbolic importance of the no-trouser law might offend modern sensibilities because it was “incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men.” Georges Sand would be thrilled.