Missouri House dress code changes draw controversy

An amendment to the rules of decorum for female representatives creates a heated debate

The+Missouri+House+of+Representatives+recently+passed+a+new+amendment+requiring+female+representatives+to+wear+more+specific+articles+of+clothing.+

Missouri Capitol 1979 / John Mena / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

The Missouri House of Representatives recently passed a new amendment requiring female representatives to wear more specific articles of clothing.

“These folks need to stop playing on the taxpayers’ dime with this type of nonsense, for real. Be a pick-me on you in time and at your own expense.”

This is the sentiment from Raychel Proudie, a Democratic state representative of the Missouri House of Representatives on the topic of the newly imposed dress code for women.

The amendment, which was passed as part of the new “Rules of the Missouri House of Representatives,” on January 11th, dictates that female representatives must specifically wear “jackets” on top of their business attire.

Previously, female representatives needed to cover their shoulders and arms, however the specification of a jacket called into question how important specific wording is for bills, as a jacket bans many other forms of coverage that do not meet a specific definition.

Oxford Languages defines “jacket” as, “an outer garment extending either to the waist or the hips, typically having sleeves and a fastening down the front.”

Proudie pointed out that the limitations set by this hyper-specific wording would bring change to what House representatives wear daily.

Be a pick-me on you in time and at your own expense.”

— Missouri Rep. Raychel Proudie

The controversial measure was championed by Republican state representative Ann Kelley, who justified that she wanted the male and female dress code to “be equal.”

Kelley referenced that male representatives must wear business suits with a formal jacket, while female representatives may be more lenient with their second layer, so long as it covers their arms and shoulders.

“I think there should be a dress code for people in government, they are representatives and should dress appropriately,” said sophomore Elliot Kramer.

After a debate, the amendment was revised to include a cardigan as an acceptable form of coverage, according to AP News.

While the House of Representatives focuses heavily on decorum, some representatives have called into question whether this was a step too far or an unnecessary expenditure of time.

“Instead of focusing on this, I should be focusing on legislation to represent my district,” Proudie said.

However, some students took a different approach.

“I think this is something that the House of Representatives should be discussing because if you’re reinforcing stereotypical gender norms that women should be overly covered, it’s detrimental,” said junior Millie Garrett.

A single member of the Missouri House, Democrat representative Peter Merideth, decided to vote present rather than take a side.

Our people sent us here to pass laws … not fight about mandates and rules on women’s clothing,” Merideth said.

Dress codes have been the subject of controversy for decades. In Missouri, the dust from this decision has not completely settled, as some House representatives continue to make public remarks, and many are questioning what could be next.