Missouri House of Representatives’ Dress Code for Women Bans Bare Arms – WWD
The Missouri House of Representatives opened session on Wednesday, and rather than focus on legislation for residents of Missouri, the Republican-controlled House majority used the opportunity to tighten dress code restrictions on women while leaving the men’s dress code rules in place.
State Rep. Ann Kelley, a Republican, cosponsored the bill, which requires women to wear a blazer when in the House chamber. The Democratic caucus quickly rebuked the bill calling it “ridiculous.”
The State House approved a modified version of Kelley’s proposal allowing cardigans but still requiring women to conceal their arms. The bill was met again with staunch opposition from Democrats.
The new restrictions set into law now mandates arm coverage, stating: “Proper attire for women shall be business attire, including jackets worn with dresses, skirts or slacks, and dress shoes or boots.”
In a speech on the Missouri House floor, state Rep. Raychel Proudie, a Democrat said, “We are fighting — again — for a woman’s right to choose for something. This time, it’s how she covers herself, and the interpretation of someone who has no background in fashion. I spent $1,200 on a suit, and I can’t wear it in the People’s House because someone who doesn’t have the range tells me that it’s inappropriate.”
Previous Missouri House rules stated “dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots” were permitted dress attire for female lawmakers.
In their rebuttal to the legislation, Democrats described the new dress code restrictions as sexist. State Rep. Pete Merideth, a Democrat, also chastised Republicans, calling them hypocrites for their mishandling and neglect of masking guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Missouri House Rules can come up for debate on a two-year basis at the start of the General Assembly. Women hold less than one-third of the seats in the Missouri House. Missouri Democrats are adamant against the legislation, saying there was more pressing legislation than what female lawmakers are wearing.