Here’s a clue. This 1965 photograph of two models wearing suede pantsuits by the French firm Mac Douglas was taken in Paris — Give Up?
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.
Jack Winter slacks, November 1959
I often come across these eye catching ads in old Vogue magazines for Jack Winter slacks. They always have the models done up in white make-up with white hair, like living mannequins.
Jack Winter was born in 1909, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the son of Sigmund Winter, the owner of Moritz & Winter – a retailer of men’s suits and overcoats. Winter started his own company in 1938 making men’s trousers in the basement of his father’s store. In 1942 he began making women’s trousers when men’s civilian clothing was in less demand due to the war, and in 1953 switched entirely to manufacturing women’s slacks under his company Jack Winter Inc.
Over the years the company diversified – so much so that by the late 1960s Jack Winter Inc. was making sportswear and skiwear, and had several retail chain stores that sold fabrics, bathroom accessories, and clothing. By 1968, when pants for women were being commonly made by many companies Jack Winter Inc. had to regroup and dissolve many of its splinter divisions to survive. Winter retired in 1986 and died in 1991. The company filed for Chapter 11 protection in 1988 and later sold its assets to White Knight.