Missouri Congress Requires Formality While Working In Capitol

Missouri capitol building in Jefferson City.

Missouri capitol building in Jefferson City.

Missouri congresswomen have a dress code. Democrats in the Missouri House of Representatives are outraged with the House’s new dress code. This code requires female legislators to cover their arms and wear blazers while in the state capitol. 

What Happened

As is customary every two years at the beginning of a new General Assembly, lawmakers debated changes to the House rules on Wednesday. The current dress code states that women must wear dresses, skirts, or slacks with blazers or sweaters, as well as appropriate dress shoes or boots. 

The Republican state representative Ann Kelley proposed an amendment requiring women to wear jackets, defined as blazers and knit jackets, with dresses, skirts, and slacks, as well as dress shoes or boots. According to Kelley, maintaining a formal and professional atmosphere is essential.


However, she was met by swift opposition from Democrats who called it “ridiculous.” The state House eventually did approve a modified version of Kelley’s proposal. This allows for cardigans as well as jackets but still requires women’s arms to be concealed.

As the dress code for men was left unchanged, the move was deemed sexist. Nonetheless, men must adhere to a dress code in the Chambers, with male lawmakers required to wear “business attire, including coat, tie, dress trousers, and dress shoes or boots.”

The chief clerk of the House had requested for years to fix this issue in the rules, so Representative Kelley brought the amendment to the floor. And she denied wasting anyone’s time, claiming her speech had only taken five minutes and blamed Missouri Democrats for prolonging the debate.

Representative Kelley said,

How is encouraging professionalism wrong [1]?

Republican Rep. Brenda Shields defended Kelley’s proposal as an effort to clarify the rules that were already in place. She suggested adjusting the language to let cardigans count as jackets, which eventually passed.


  1. ^https://www.foxnews.com/politics/missouri-house-tightens-womens-dress-code-requiring-covering-arms (go back  ↩)

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