1925 “Morality Police” Tried to Control Length of Women’s Skirts



Policemen measuring the length of women’s skirts

As hard as it is to believe today, there once were “Morality Police” in Greece tasked with measuring the length of women’s skirts. Under the guise of efforts to preserve morality and order, General Theodoros Pangalos  passed laws to control the length of skirts during his short-lived dictatorship (1925–1926).

Much to the astonishment of Greek urban society it was announced on December 1, 1925 that it would be forbidden for all women to wear skirts in public that had with hemlines higher than 30 centimeters (10 inches) from the ground.

The new law would apply to all females aged 12 and over. Those who would flout the law would be prosecuted and their parents would also be held responsible for their behavior.

Historians say that Pangalos made the decision in an attempt to pacify his wife, who became furious when visiting his office and saw a young lady wearing a skirt reaching her knee.

Dictator Theodoros Pangalos

Mrs. Pangalos demanded her husband take measures to reverse the so-called “moral decline of the nation” and put an end to “provocative attire”.

Police gave a deadline of December 15 for all women to adjust their wardrobes to the new regulations.

When the deadline expired, policemen armed with measuring tapes began patrolling the streets, hunting down and measuring the skirts of the offenders.

The first recorded instance of an arrest was 22-year-old Katina Vogiatzi, who was arrested because her skirt was 38 centimeters (14 inches) from the ground.

Katina Vogiatzi. Source: ERT

Vogiatzi was sentenced to 24 hours in prison.

The case became front page news all over Greece. Most journalists used the case to ridicule the dictatorship, claiming that Greece had much more important problems to solve.

Katina Vogiatzi smiling outside the court before being sentenced to 24 hours in prison

Pangalos, who had staged a bloodless coup in June 1925, was overthrown in August, 1926.

During the Axis Occupation of Greece, Pangalos and military officers close to him were widely suspected of collaboration with the Germans. Cleared by a court after the war, he later ran unsuccessfully for political office and died in 1952.