Lawmakers in Missouri Debate Women’s Dress Code

January 18, 2023

It is essential to always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere on House floor and to ensure this happens, I have felt compelled to offer this amendment.

Representative Ann Kelley (R-MO), who introduced an amendment in the Missouri State House requiring female legislators and staff members to wear a jacket while working in the state capitol building. The amendment passed, though with much debate.

The Amendment: The dress code, as outlined in the bill, reads: “At all times when the House is seated, proper attire for gentlemen shall be business attire, including coat, tie, dress trousers, and dress shoes or boots. Proper attire for women shall be business attire, including jackets worn with dresses, skirts, or slacks, and dress shoes or boots. For the purposes of this rule, ‘jacket’ shall include blazers, cardigans, and knit blazers.”

Big Picture: Based on documentation from 2021, more than half of states in the U.S. have a required a dress code for legislators. The amendment in Missouri was introduced to ensure a professional environment and match the men’s dress code, according to Rep. Ann Kelley (R-MO). While it received pushback and was described as sexist and/or pointless, it ultimately passed 105-51. There are 116 men in the Missouri legislature and 43 women.

Argument Against the Amendment: “I’ve seen a lot of lack of decorum in this room in my two years here and not once has that lack of decorum spurred from someone’s blazer or lack thereof. There are a lot of ways we could break decorum in this room. But a woman, what she’s wearing, that is ridiculous,” said Rep. Ashley Aune (D-MO).

Missouri Democrats say House dress code debate a distraction (The Associated Press)

by Jenna Lee,