Missouri lawmakers have heated debate over dress code for women at the Capitol

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 6:15 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - Lawmakers at the Missouri Capitol debated the dress code for women on the Missouri House of Representatives floor this week.

The rules are debated every two years. The previous dress code from 2021 said women could wear a dress or skirt or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater.

Republican lawmaker Ann Kelley wanted to change that to women must wear jackets.

“Men are required to wear a jacket, a shirt and a tie, correct? If they walked in here without a tie, they would get gaveled down in a heartbeat. If they walked in without a jacket, they would get gaveled down in a heartbeat. So, we are so interested in being equal,” said Representative Kelley.

Democratic Representative Ashley Aune was one of many women who spoke out against it.

“Last year, I had a member who I was wearing something very similar to this. They started asking around whether or not it was appropriate for the floor, and I started getting self-conscious that a bunch of my colleagues were talking about my top,” said Representative Aune.

Representative Ann Kelley says it was for clarification.

”The current one that is in the book has a bunch of or’s the reason why we want to clarify is when you go through orientation, they say a jacket is required on the house floor, but there are people that interpret this as if you wear a skirt or sweater, you don’t have to wear a jacket. In my clean-up language, proper attire is business attire, including jackets warn and our list of clothes everyone wears,” said Representative Kelley.

Representative Aune says what you wear should not impact how you do your job.

”I believe I can do that work, whether I’m wearing a blazer or cardigan, or a turtleneck or a tank top. I am a capable individual, what I wear should not impact that,” said Representative Aune.

The rules were adopted and now stand on the House Floor.

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