Senate Will No Longer Enforce Its ‘Informal’ Dress Code

The Senate is forgoing its informal dress code, with senators now being allowed to wear whatever they’d like when on the floor, marking a win for Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who has arrived at the Senate several times wearing a hoodie and shorts.

After being absent from the Senate for two months in April 2023, Fetterman was seen exiting a vehicle wearing informal clothing as he entered the Capitol building. The Pennsylvania lawmaker has also been seen wearing baggy shirts and shorts in the Senate chamber.

Like Fetterman, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was recently seen entering Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office wearing an orange shirt with the Texas Longhorns logo, The Hill reported.

Axios recently reported that the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms has been told to no longer enforce the chamber’s dress requirements for legislators.
The decision comes after several state legislatures have struck down their dress requirements because they were “oppressive” or discriminatory against one gender or another.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) applauded the Senate’s decision. He noted that he would continue wearing formal attire on the Senate floor.
“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said in a statement to the outlet.

The House, like the Senate, has already made several moves to get rid of its dress requirements over the past couple of years. In 2017, the chamber made several changes to its dress policies amid criticism and protests over what female legislators were forced to wear in the lower chamber, according to Breitbart News.
Among the criticism from female lawmakers was the banning of sleeveless tops and open-toed shoes in the House.

Although the Senate’s dress code is referred to as being “informal,” it has been strictly followed and abided by for over 20 years, as reported by Breitbart News.

NBC News reported that “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.”