montana state legislature dress code

‘No Casual Friday’: Montana Legislature Passes Dress Code That’s Largely Aimed At Women

Citizens of Montana can now rest assured that their state legislature is hard at work handling the toughest issues facing the state today. The Montana legislature recently introduced and passed guidelines that finally deal with the scourge of inappropriate attire on the legislative floor, a menace that has dogged the Montana statehouse for far too long.

The Cowgirl Blog last week carried word (h/t: Raw Story) of the new dress code for the Montana statehouse, noting that the Floor Session Dress Code for the 64th Legislative Session (PDF) seems to be targeted largely at women. On the whole, the directive calls for anyone coming to the statehouse floor “comport themselves in a manner that respects the legislative institution,” specifically with regard to “the formality of dress” expected of those in the chamber. As Cowgirl Blog notes, though, the dress code contains two sections addressing women’s dress, while just one sentence is devoted to men.

While men are instructed to dress in a “business formal” manner – i.e. an appropriate suit, with dress shoes or dress boots – sections 2 and 3 of the dress code go into detail regarding what is appropriate for women.

“‘Business formal’ for women is defined as a suit or dress slacks, skirt, jacket, and dress blouse or suit-like dress and appropriate shoes (flip flops, tennis shoes, and open-toe sandals are not considered appropriate). Leggings are not considered dress pants.

Women should be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.”

The dress code goes on to proscribe jeans and denim material – “including colored denim” – as well as fleeces (sorry, Old Navy) and jerseys.

Notably, the edict from the Montana legislature only spells out what exactly the dress code is; it does not contain guidance on what will befall those unwise enough to flout the dress code and come to the house floor in plunging necklines and flip flops. Cowgirl Blog also points out, though, that the dress code goes up to Rule #8, but there are only seven actual rules published; Rule #6 is missing.

Perhaps, then, Rule #6 actually contains the punishment for failing to conform to the house dress code. Perhaps Rule #6 is so draconian that it could not be published. Consider the cold finality of Rule #8:

“There are no casual Fridays or Saturdays.”

Some would argue, though, that the Tea Party-led Montana legislature has bigger things to deal with than short skirts on reporters and interns. Cowgirl Blog points out that some Montana legislators have come under fire in the past for comparing women to livestock and farm equipment.

Others, like outgoing State Senator Shannon Augare, have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. Augare was clocked at 87 miles per hour and allegedly reached a speed of 105 mph before being arrested.

The reaction from Montana’s Democratic leadership has been skeptical of the new dress code. State Representative Jenny Eck was dismissive of the new regulations, saying that Democrats had no input on the dress code.

Others say that the new dress code is aimed squarely at reporters that come to the statehouse floor.

Either way, rules are rules, and one thing is certain: Casual Fridays and Saturdays in the Montana statehouse are dead. Also, there is no Rule #6.

[Lead image via Dallas Morning News]