Up for Discussion: The Mad Hatter
Dec 16, 2010
You wouldn’t know it to wander the halls of the Capitol on a casual Friday, but the House of Representatives does have a dress code. When on the Floor, Members must observe the following guidelines:
“Members should dress appropriately, which has traditionally been considered to include a coat and tie for male Members and appropriate attire for female Members; Members should not wear overcoats or hats on the floor while the House is in session.
No eating, drinking, or smoking is permitted. The use of personal electronic equipment, including cellular phones and laptop computers, is banned on the floor of the House.”–House Committee on Rules
The rules were famously amended so that former Congressman Ben Nighthorse-Campbell, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, could wear bolo ties instead of the traditional neckties. So they’re not set in stone. But one incoming Freshman legislator would like them amended so that she can wear her trademark hats on the Floor.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Wilson is a connoisseur of hats, especially sequined cowboy ones, and she doesn’t take kindly to being told that the House doesn’t cotton to its members rocking Stetsons in its chamber.
“It’s sexist,” Wilson told The Miami Herald. “It dates back to when men wore hats, and we know that men don’t wear hats indoors, but women wear hats indoors. Hats are what I wear. People get excited when they see the hats. Once you get accustomed to it, it’s just me. Some people wear wigs or high heel shoes or big earrings or pins. This is just me.”
It would take a full vote of the House to change the rule forbidding hats, which has stood since 1837. And while I don’t know that it’s high on the legislative agenda for the new Congress, I have to ask: Do you think the House should change the rules at let Rep-elect Wilson wear her hats on the floor?