Wives Buy Clothes for French Husbands

Toronto Star Weekly/March 11, 1922

Paris.—At last the balloon-shaped, narrow-at-the-bottom trousers of the French workman are explained. People have wondered for years why the French workingman wanted to get himself up in the great billowy trousers that were so tight at the cuffs as to hardly be able to pull over his feet. Now it is out. He doesn’t. His wife buys them for him.

Recently at the noon hour in French factories there has been a great trading of clothing by the men. They exchange coats, trousers, hats and shoes. It is a revolt against feminism. For the wife of a French workingman from time immemorial has bought all her husband’s clothes, and now the Frenchman is beginning to protest against it.

Two Frenchmen who served in the same regiment together and had not seen each other since the demobilization aired their grievances in a bus the other day when they met.

“Your hair, Henri!” said one.

“My wife, old one, she cuts it. But your hair, also? It is not too chic!”

“My wife too. She cuts it also. She says barbers are dirty pigs, but at the finish I must give her the same tip as I would give the barber.”

“Ah the hair is a small matter. Regard these shoes.”

“My poor old friend! Such shoes. It is incredible.”

“It is my wife’s system. She goes into the shop and says, ‘I want a pair of shoes for mon mari. Not expensive. Mon mari’s feet are this much longer than mine, I believe, and about this much wider. That will do nicely. Wrap them up.’ Old one, it is terrible!”

“But me also. I am clothed in bargains. What matter if they do not fit? They are bon marché. Still she is a wonderful cook. She is a cook beyond comparison. My old one, it would take one of your understanding to appreciate what a treasure among cooks she is.”

“Mine also. A cook beyond all price. A jewel of the first water of cooks. What do clothes matter after all?”

“It is true. Truly it is true! They are a small matter.”

So in spite of the trading which has been going on in the factories and sporadic outbreaks of protest, the reign of feminism will probably continue.

(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto. Simon and Schuster, 2002.)