Estimated reading time (in minutes)
Can we wear whatever outfit we want? Can you walk naked in the street, or even wear a police uniform without being a police officer?
Yes, in principle
We have the right, in principle, to wear the clothing of our choice: this is an individual freedom which is linked to respect for private life. So, if you wish, you can walk in the street in your underwear, but, however, if you start to reveal your private parts, you risk being arrested for obscene behavior or sexual exhibition. We can therefore dress as we want, but while respecting public order and good morals.
Can I go out naked?
The question of nudity in public spaces has not been clearly decided by the courts and can be punished if it corresponds to the definition of sexual exhibition. We will qualify as sexual exhibition any total or partial nudity in a public space and coming from a person who is aware of offending the modesty of others.
In these situations, judgments are made on a case-by-case basis. For example, in the case of a person stripping naked to dive from a port, it was considered that this act was not reprehensible because it was not committed in a provocative manner, and that the attitude of the person the person was not obscene. On the other hand, other jurisdictions have considered that a naked man in a car, or even a bather walking naked among the rocks and outside a naturist area, engaged in behavior that amounted to sexual exhibition.
Can I hide my face?
Since the law came into force on April 12, 2011, we no longer have the possibility of going out into public spaces with our faces covered. This law, promulgated to dissuade people from wearing the full veil or burqa, stipulates that any person who goes out into the street with their face covered risks a second class fine, that is to say a fine and the obligation to follow a citizenship course.
There is also another situation of facial concealment: it concerns individuals who hide their face during a public demonstration to avoid being identified or questioned by the police. In this case, these people risk a 5th class fine, i.e. a fine of €1,500.
There are, however, exceptions to this rule: for health reasons (wearing a mask in the street in the event of illness), for professional reasons (wearing a helmet for a CRS or a construction site worker), or for artistic reasons (wearing a mask at carnival).
Can I wear a uniform?
One cannot wear any uniform or costume in public space and it is prohibited to wear certain outfits, costumes, uniforms and decorations that are regulated by the public authority. There is no exhaustive list of prohibited costumes, but, generally, these are professions for which the conditions of exercise are regulated and published in the Official Journal: dress for lawyers and magistrates; the uniform of a police officer, firefighter or soldier. People wearing this uniform can be sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of €15,000. Furthermore, it is prohibited to wear costumes or emblems of organizations that have committed crimes against humanity in public spaces. For example, Someone going out wearing a Nazi uniform can be fined 5th class, i.e. a fine of €1,500. An exception can be made if the person is wearing this outfit for artistic reasons (for a play or film, for example).
DAMY Law Firm , Nice, Can I dress as I want? 2022 update