Paul Ryan to Update House Dress Code to Reflect 'Appropriate' Business Attire

House Speaker Paul Ryan / AP
July 13, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) announced Thursday that the controversial dress code enforced in the House chamber and speaker's lobby will be updated to reflect modern ideas of appropriate business attire.

"A dress code in the chamber and speaker's lobby makes sense," Ryan said. "But that doesn't mean that we need to bar otherwise acceptable business attire. So, look for a change in that soon."

The announcement was prompted by a recent debate over the current requirements that ban bare shoulders, open toe shoes, and require men to wear jackets and ties.

The controversy began on June 23, when Ryan spoke in the House chamber to reinforce the dress code that was first established in 1979.

The debate heated up with a CBS News piece published July 6 addressing the ambiguity of the rules and providing examples of reporters and political leaders who had not followed the dress code.

A number of left-leaning outlets picked up the story and took the opportunity to suggest the rules were part of Ryan's supposed patriarchal oppression of women.

That view was quickly shot down by Capitol Hill veterans, including NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt. Hunt said on Twitter that the ban had been enforced her entire time working on Capitol Hill, more than 10 years. She added that it could be argued that "it should change."

The debate continued on Wednesday, when Rep. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) spoke up on the House floor. While wrapping up a floor speech, she ended her remarks by pointing out her sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes.