Female Representatives Call For 'Sleeveless Friday' In Opposition To Congressional Dress Code

Congresswomen are celebrating their right to "bare arms."

A group of Congresswomen gathered on the steps of the Capitol Friday to demonstrate what the representative responsible for the photo op called "the right to bare arms" in opposition to a dress code that many are calling outdated and sexist. 


Representative Jackie Speier tweeted the idea Thursday evening, calling for #SleevelessFriday, and about 25 fellow female representatives joined Speier the next day in wearing what might currently be the most controversial attire in Washington, D.C.: shirts and dresses without sleeves. 

The Congressional dress code officially states representatives, their staff and anyone on the floor of the House of Representatives and outside the chamber in the Speaker's Lobby must wear "appropriate attire." Commonly, this has meant men are expected to wear suit jackets and ties and women are not allowed to wear open-toed shoes or sneakers and sleeveless blouses or dresses.

Attention was first brought to the rule last week when CBS reported that a handful of female journalists were denied access to the Speaker's Lobby of the House of Representatives due to attire that was in violation of the sleeveless dresses rule. Many have felt that, as fashions have evolved, it is time to revisit what is considered "appropriate attire," and as many noted, temperatures in Washington, D.C. rise considerably in the summer. 

"The rules have become irrelevant," Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government and director of the Women & Politics Institute at the School of Public Affairs at American University told NBC. "Just because women are wearing sleeveless tops does not mean they're dressing inappropriately…To suggest that they have to dress in a particular way constrains their choices in a way that men are not."

House Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that he is open to updating the Congressional dress code, although no official action has been taken at the time of publication. 


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.