The law was first put into place as an anti-revolutionary measure. French revolutionaries in Paris wore trousers, as opposed to the knee-length culottes favoured by the bourgeoisie. The sexist trouser law was introduced when female rebels started following suit. The law required women to ask the police special permission to “dress as men”.

In 1892 and 1909, the rule was amended to allow women to wear trousers “if the woman is holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse”.

Though there have been several attempts to do away with the law over the years, it remained on the books mainly because it was deemed too insignificant to repeal, and viewed as part of French “legal archeology”.

In July, Alain Houpert, a senator and member of the conservative UMP party, demanded it be repealed, stating the “symbolic importance” of the law “could injure our modern sensibilities.” Vallaud-Belkacem agreed, and in a published statement, wrote:

“This ordinance is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men, which are listed in the Constitution, and in France’s European commitments.”