As temperatures rise on Capitol Hill, a number of female journalists have been barred access to the Speaker of the House’s lobby because Congress says sleeveless dresses aren’t appropriate for the dress code.
Can confirm I was warned the next time I would be removed https://t.co/M0BTcFYchO
— Kellie Mejdrich (@kelmej) July 6, 2017
One young journalist who was denied access to the Speaker’s lobby, a go-to area for reporters looking to snag interviews with lawmakers, ripped pages from her notebook and stuffed them into the shoulder openings in her dress to create makeshift sleeves, CBS reported.
The guard apparently wasn’t impressed with the reporter’s DIY sleeves and still banned her from the area.
The sporadically-enforced Congressional dress code requires members to “dress appropriately,” telling men to wear a “traditional coat and tie” but only asking females to wear “appropriate attire.”
The term “appropriate attire” has been broadly interpreted and reporters said they have been cracking down on women’s sleeveless dresses and even on open-toed shoes.
But if you’re looking for additional clarification on exactly what not to wear, you won’t find any documentation on it. The actual rules aren’t written down in detail anywhere.
To make things more confusing, the dress code is only enforced inside the Speaker’s lobby and nowhere else on the House perimeter. The dress code also isn’t enforced on the Senate side of the Capitol.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan nonetheless reiterated his desire for “appropriate attire” in the chamber just last week.
“Members should periodically rededicate themselves to the core principles of proper parliamentary practice that are so essential to maintaining order and deliberacy here in the House,” said.
“Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance on the floor may be,” he continued.
The dress code also apparently doesn’t apply to first ladies and daughters.
First Daughter Ivanka Trump took it a step further with the off-the-shoulder number with her bra strap peeking out that she wore to her father, President Donald Trump’s first Congressional joint address.
The uneven enforcement has prompted calls for Congress to clarify its dress code.
“For journalists? Easier to know if you’re being turned away because of a dress rule or because someone doesn’t want your questions,” DCCC researcher Ali West tweeted.