congress sleeveless
source: Instagram

It turns out the rules in Washington D.C. are as prehistoric as you probably imagined.

Women at the Capitol Building are no longer allowed to wear sleeveless tops, and will be dismissed if they do not abide by this rule.

Journalist Katherine Tully McManus tweeted a confirmation of this practice. This was in response to a story that CBS reported, in which a female reporter could not enter the Speaker’s lobby due to her sleeveless dress. She then ripped out pages of her notebook to create makeshift sleeves, but still was not allowed in.

This just seems truly archaic to me. Does a few short inches of fabric really mean that much, especially if it would make workers more physically comfortable in the unbearable D.C. heat?

I understand that you have to dress professionally, especially working in Washington. But there are plenty of classy options when it comes to sleeveless dresses and tops. I don’t think sleeveless is necessarily unprofessional.

To be fair, men are required to wear suits and ties, which must also be extremely uncomfortable. But they don’t have to experience rampant industry sexism, so it seems fair.

Vogue reports that there actually is not an explicitly written rule that prevents women from wearing sleeveless attire, which makes this all the more frustrating. The magazine writes that “Jefferson’s Manual and Rules of the House of Representatives…describes the dress code as ‘customary and traditional attire for Members, including a coat and tie for male Members and appropriate attire for female Members.'”

This open-ended code allows the Speaker of the House determine what is “appropriate attire.” So it’s Paul Ryan’s fault, surprise surprise.

Allie Bush is a Contributing Writer at Femestella. She is interested in creating and sharing entertaining and engaging content, in whatever form it may take. She is a proud TV junkie and in her spare time can be found watching late night talk shows, talking about Chrissy Teigen or Amy Poehler, or eating off of other people’s plates.