The Missouri State House of Representatives has garnered attention after revising its dress code for female legislators and staff members.
Following Wednesday’s 105-51 vote, Women legislators are now required to wear a jacket, such as a blazer or a cardigan. A move that’s sparked debate about policing the fashion choices of women.
The updated dress code is part of a more extensive set of rules laid out by the House. It has been criticized by some Democratic lawmakers, who say the Republican-backed move is sexist and pointless, The New York Times reported.
But those in favor of the policy say it’s a small change that would help maintain professionalism inside the chamber.
State Representative Ann Kelley, a Republican who introduced it, addressed the dress code on the House floor, saying that the new rules for women coincide with the dress code for men and that it “is essential to always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere” in the House.
“You would think that all you would have to do is say, ‘Dress professionally,’ and women could handle it,” Ms. Kelley said. “You would think elected officials could handle that.”
The amendment consisted of four sentences in a 37-page resolution that laid out rules governing the State House of Representatives, including how committee meetings are announced and attendance policies for lawmakers that consist of 116 men and 43 women. The State Senate doesn’t have a rule that requires a woman to wear a blazer.
Dress codes for men, who are required to wear a jacket, shirt, and tie, were not changed.
Jamie Tomek, the secretary of the Missouri chapter of the National Organization for Women, spoke out on Saturday against the code, saying she and other organization members were “outraged” that Republicans spent time on a futile, misogynistic issue.
“We have a Republican Legislature, so they think they have time to spend on those kinds of things, as opposed to real issues that citizens of Missouri need dealing with,” she said.