House of Representatives Will ‘Modernize’ Its Dress Code for Women

Paul Ryan is on the case. Photo: 2017 Getty Images

A day after a Republican congresswoman noted on the floor of the House of Representatives that her sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes were technically in violation of an unwritten dress code for women lawmakers, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he’d work on “modernizing” said dress code.

The dress code, which applied on the House floor as well as in the Speaker’s Lobby, was roundly criticized after CBS News reported that women reporters had been kicked out for violating it. In keeping with the “we’re living in The Handmaid’s Tale” panic, a factually inaccurate version of the story that called the code “new” and implied it was in effect within the entire Capitol went viral. The code is not new, and applies only to the House chamber and Speaker’s Lobby. But hey, the outrage around it worked!

According to BuzzFeed News’ Alexis Levinson, while addressing reporters, Ryan brought it up unprompted. “The sergeant at arms was simply enforcing the same interpretation of the rules as under my predecessors,” he said. “It’s nothing new and certainly not something that I devised. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that enforcement couldn’t stand to be a bit modernized,” he added.

He went on, “We also don’t need to bar otherwise accepted contemporary business attire, so look for a change on that soon.”

Ryan will reportedly work with the sergeant at arms to figure out what sort of “contemporary business attire” will be allowed in and around the chamber. Here’s hoping bare shoulders are in, and terrible beige suits are out.

House of Representatives Will ‘Modernize’ Its Dress Code