Wearing what you want is a privilege, not a right — and lately, people have been abusing it.
Last week, guards barred a reporter from entering the Speaker’s Lobby, a room outside the House of Representatives chamber where reporters grab short interviews with politicians. She wasn’t armed or anything — just bare-armed. Sleeveless dresses are against the Speaker’s Lobby dress code.
The outcry is beyond ridiculous — and misguided. Congressional rules are far from draconian. The Speaker’s Lobby is the only room on Capitol Hill that requires reporters to suit up so formally. As for the sexism claim, men are held to a high sartorial standard there, too: They’re required to wear jackets and ties, which are arguably more stifling than dresses with sleeves.
Plus, who knows if Congress would have bothered enforcing this rule if reporters stuck to professional sheath dresses (as Michelle Obama routinely did)? Instead, journalists have been waltzing into the Speaker’s Lobby wearing breezy summer dresses and Birkenstocks — not exactly proper business attire. Can you really blame the House for trying to uphold a sense of decorum?
This Congress kerfuffle is just the latest case of people refusing to dress with a modicum of respect for their surroundings. Back in March, United Airlines got flak for stopping two teens wearing stretch pants from boarding a flight. Dubbed “Leggings-gate,” the airline was derided for sexism — despite the fact that the two ejected passengers were flying for free on an employee’s family pass, which entails a strict dress code for both men and women.
Then, in April, the posh department store Harvey Nichols incited similar ire for its “snooty” attitude toward author Joanne Harris, who tried to shop there in a hoodie. But in the end it…