WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’ll modernize a congressional dress code that bars women from wearing sleeveless tops and open-toed shoes in certain parts of the U.S. Capitol.
The decision by Ryan comes one week after a female journalist was forbidden from entering the Speaker’s lobby, a private hallway connected to the House chamber, because her shoulders were exposed.
Another reporter, who was also denied entry, had attempted to bypass the rules by placing notebook paper inside her dress collar to serve as sleeves.
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) ridiculed the dress code at the conclusion of a speech on the House floor Wednesday by noting that she was dressed professionally, “which happens to be a sleeveless dress and open-toes shoes.”
“Decorum is important, especially for this institution, and a dress code in the chamber and the lobby makes sense,” Ryan told reporters Thursday.
But the House also shouldn’t bar “otherwise accepted contemporary business attire,” he said, “so look for a change on that soon.”
The House dress code has been around for decades, despite some claims by Ryan’s opponents that it came into existence under his tenure.