Come as You Are: Schumer Gives Thumbs-Up to End of Senate Dress Code

C-SPAN, New York Post, WGALTV / YouTube

The Senate’s informal dress code has been quietly ditched by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with senators now given the thumbs-up to wear whatever they want on the floor, several outlets detailed Monday.

The Senate’s Sergeant at Arms has reportedly been told to no longer enforce the chamber’s unwritten dress requirements for legislators, Axios reports.

The move follows several state legislatures which have recently reconsidered their dress requirements on the grounds they were “oppressive” and variously decried as racist and sexist by opponents who also urged wearing unconventional clothing can be an effective “statement of resistance.”

According to the outlet, one beneficiary will be Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) who enjoys gym shorts and hoodies over the formal business attire traditionally required in the chamber, allowing him to linger on the Senate floor before and after votes under the new code.

RELATED: Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) Returns to Capitol Hill After Two-Month Absence


The change applies only to senators — staff members will still be required to follow the old dress code.

As Axios notes, the traditionally even-stuffier U.S. House has already attempted to dilute some of its own dress requirements over the past several years, including changes in 2017 following criticism and protests over what women were still forced to wear in the lower chamber.

Objections from female lawmakers to a longstanding ban on sleeveless tops and open-toed shoes in the House prompted the call for change, as Breitbart News reported.

The Hill also confirmed the new move.

“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said in a statement shared with the outlet.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., gestures to the gathered cameras outside the Capitol as he returns to the Senate on Monday, April 17, 2023, following treatment for clinical depression. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

While the Senate’s dress code is best described by aides as “informal,” it has been strictly adhered to over the past 20 years – with some exceptions.

NBC News notes “Because the standard is not a formal or written policy, senators at times have been seen on the Senate floor wearing gym clothes, golf attire, denim vests, shoes without socks and colorful wigs, among other unconventional attire.”

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