A young female reporter was just barred from conducting interviews in the Speaker’s Lobby of Congress, simply because she was wearing a sleeveless dress.
Forced to think quick on her feet, she ripped out pages from her notebook and stuffed them into her dress’ shoulder openings to create sleeves, witnesses said. An officer who’s tasked with enforcing rules in the Speaker’s lobby said her creative solution still wasn’t acceptable.
But, what’s interesting to note, is that the rule doesn’t apply to the First Lady or First Daughter. They are the exception.
Here’s Ivanka Trump at the Joint Session speech of Congress. She was allowed to wear a sleeveless dress with no problem. Notice how even her bra strap is showing.
Recently Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made an announcement to the House floor reiterating the rules, saying:
“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.”
Among them: “Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however, brief their appearance on the floor may be.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 23, 2017
One reason for the mishap might be due to the rising heat, and that’s simply understandable. Congress is trying to have a “proper decorum” and that, too, is understandable. But, what’s also confusing is the fact that there’s not an official dress code. It’s purely implied.
Billy House, chairman of the Standing Committee of Congressional Correspondents, said “anyone hoping to find any actual, official code of attire, good luck.”
The only specific rules that exist are from a 2015 edition of Jefferson’s Manual and Rules of the House of Representatives and in the 96th Congress, then-Speaker Tip O’Neill announced that he “considered as proper the customary and traditional attire for Members, including a coat and tie for male Members and appropriate attire for female Members.”
Whatever is “appropriate” for women must be determined by the Speaker.
It looks like the fashion police on Capitol Hill have their hands full.