JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House has changed its dress code for women after debate Wednesday over house rules in the legislative session.
The House adopted a resolution Wednesday that calls for stricter dress code rules, only for female legislators, throughout the ongoing legislative session.
As recently as 2021, the dress code allowed women to wear “dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots.” The newly-adopted house rules now state proper attire for women consists of “jackets worn with dresses, skirts, or slacks, and dress shoes or boots.”
The change was largely-backed by GOP lawmakers in the Missouri House, particularly two female legislators. Rep. Ann Kelley (R-Lamar) proposed the change on the floor Wednesday. Rep. Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph) offered an amendment to classify jackets as blazers or cardigans.
In a video shared by Heartland Signal on the discussions, Kelley says “You would think that all you would have to do is say, ‘dress professionally’ and women could handle it.”
Many Democrat lawmakers, including Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis), weighed in with strong opposition.
“Yep, the caucus that lost their minds over the suggestion that they should wear masks during a pandemic to respect the safety of others is now spending its time focusing on the fine details of what women have to wear (specifically how to cover their arms) to show respect here,” said Merideth via Twitter on Wednesday.
The men’s dress code did not change from the previous legislative session, nor was the debated Wednesday. According to the current resolution, “proper attire for gentlemen shall be business attire, including coat, tie, dress trousers, and dress shoes or boots.”