Senate Prepares For New Looks After Majority Leader Eases Dress Code
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is now allowing legislators to come as they please to Senate chambers with a relaxed dress code, NBC News reports. Notices went out to the Senate sergeant-at-arms and certain staff members on September 15, stating the change would go into effect September 18.
Prior to the new policy, the Senate enforced an informal dress code, requiring lawmakers to dress in business attire. Because the policy isn’t a formal one, many legislators have been seen in athletic wear, denim, shoes and no socks, vibrant wigs and more.
Some lawmakers turn heads with their keen fashion sense; some, like John Fetterman (D-PA), who wears a hoodie and baseball shorts on the Senate floor, challenge the status quo. According to the Associated Press, Fetterman often kept off the Senate floor in his casual gear, voting from doorways in order to avoid trouble.
As for Schumer, we won’t be seeing him in more relaxed attire. “There has been an informal dress code that was enforced,” he said in a statement. “Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit.”
Professional attire standards in politics have been trending for the past few months. In February, state representative Justin Pearson (D-TN) was criticized for wearing a dashiki on his first day on the Tennessee House floor. His appearance seemingly threatened Republican lawmakers, prompting them to respond to a tweet of Pearson wearing the garment with his fist raised.
“If you don’t like rules, perhaps you should explore a different career opportunity that’s main purpose is not creating them,” the GOP account tweeted.
Numerous conservative officials have expressed their disdain for casual dress on the Senate floor. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene blasted off on Twitter, calling the former dress protocol “one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions. Stop lowering the bar!”
The Senate no longer enforcing a dress code for Senators to appease Fetterman is disgraceful.
Dress code is one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions.
Stop lowering the bar!
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) September 17, 2023
Presidential candidate and Florida governor Ron DeSantis also addressed the change, blaming it on Fetterman, according to Florida’s Voice. “We need to be lifting up our standards in this country, not dumbing down.”
DESANTIS: “The US Senate just eliminated its dress code because you got this guy from Pennsylvania [Fetterman] – who’s got a lot of problems […] he wears, like, sweatshirts and hoodies and shorts […] We need to be lifting up our standards in this country, not dumbing down.” pic.twitter.com/IZDlkmPcPA
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) September 18, 2023
The new dress code applies only to elected officials. People on the legislator’s staff will still be required to wear business attire, as will outsiders who walk onto the Senate floor.