Florida House ‘dress code’ asks women to cover their shoulders
Stock image via Adobe.

Do you think work dress codes are sexist? Yes or no?
You might have the right to bear arms, but not to bare arms.

Republican leadership of the Florida House has posted flyers throughout the Capitol showing what to wear — and perhaps more strikingly, what not to wear.

The flyer breaks down a dress code for three different scenarios — when in the chamber, when Members are in the building, and when Members are not in the building. The required attire is, not surprisingly, most formal when in the House chamber.

What sticks out though, is the requirement that women never show their shoulders when House Members are present in the building, whether in the chamber or not. 

So, we get it — the Legislature has had its fair share of sex scandals. But are we really trying to avoid this problem in the future by sending the message to women that their shoulders are just too damn sexy for elected officials to handle?

And is that at least mildly insulting to the men who serve in the House who are being protected from scandalous, bare shoulders?

To be clear, there are plenty of examples of professional women rocking bare shoulders. Michelle Obama, even though she faced some backlash, frequently showed off her toned arms with various sleeveless ensembles. Remember Michelle Obama was named the most admired woman in the U.S. three years in a row.

And for those who like to share distasteful memes of the former First Lady (go away), Ivanka Trump is no stranger to the sleeveless look either. 

See examples here. And here.

Even Business Insider says “there are plenty of work-appropriate sleeveless tops for women,” though they frown upon tank tops and camisoles, which should serve as undergarments in the workplace. 

And consider this, even in Congress women have the right to “bare arms.” In 2017, a group of bipartisan female lawmakers protested a requirement that women wear dresses and blouses with sleeves when in the House chamber. Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan eventually conceded, noting the House dress code “could stand to be a bit modernized,” according to CNN.

But it appears Florida is going the way of Missouri, where lawmakers recently approved rules that include stricter dress codes for women, including a requirement to cover their shoulders.

To be fair, the (ridiculous) House code also contains some doozies for men, such as that bare ankles are “NEVER work appropriate.” As the more fashion savvy among our readers know, high-hemmed pants with shoes sans socks is kind of a big thing these days. But I guess if women’s shoulders are too distracting, so are men’s ankles. 

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Nancy F. Banister

    January 26, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    Dress for success. Bare anything is a distraction to the business at hand. Attract attention for what you know — not what you show.

    • Arm The Homeless

      January 27, 2023 at 10:24 am

      My homeowners insurance has gone up almost 25% in the past two years, Red Tide is more endemic and longer-lasting than ever, traffic and new construction in environmentally sensitive lands are insane and you Republicans spend your time worrying that your husband’s wandering eyes may be caught by his staff.

      No wonder you’re led by a failed TV gameshow host and a part-time Governor.


  • It's Complicated

    January 26, 2023 at 12:42 pm

    During my career, I’ve been in the position of officially/on the record asking female employees to dress more modestly at the office or while representing the company outside the office. Some took it well, some did not. ALL of them said they did not want ‘to be known’ for dressing immodestly, and wanted to be known for their knowledge, skills, and abilities. This is an interesting paradox given ALL of them knew good and well they were being immodest.

    Never had a dressing immodestly issue with a male employee.

  • It's Complicated

    January 26, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    I should add that IMHO banning bare shoulder or sleeveless tops is taking it too far.

  • Paul Passarelli

    January 26, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    Uh… Florida? Wow!

    Ok, ok, I know. I wouldn’t wear anything less than ‘Business Casual’ myself, but that’s me. I also have a collection of wacky neckties, that, as far as I know, tend to make people smile.

    It’s the bare ankles that I take issue with. I don’t know about the “high-hemmed pants” thing, but unless I’m wearing a suit, I often wear my Dansko Professionals sans socks. But unless someone peeks under my desk, when my shoes are off, and my toes enjoying the fresh air, no one is likely to know.

    But women in the workplace have far more freedom. As long as their attire isn’t provockative or distracting, then shouldn’t they be able to wear whatever they are comfortable in? Also if there is just one ‘prude’ that is complaining that ‘bare shoulders’ are too much of a temptation for his weak-willed soul, then doesn’t the problem lie with that self-righteous SOB and not with the workforce in general?

    Just my $0.02

  • ScienceBLVR

    January 26, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Why not just ask the “Gals” to put a gag in their mouth and a bag on their heads while you’re at it? Too distracting? Maybe the “Boys” just need to focus on important issues like educational and academic freedom, health care, insurance rates, gun control, reproductive rights, preserving the environment and protecting clean water resources etc….

    • St. A. Pete

      January 27, 2023 at 8:08 am

      Don’t give them any ideas!!!

  • Leading Edge Boomer

    January 27, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Those FL male politicians cannot do their jobs when women expose their pulchritudinous shoulders at them. /s

    • Paul Passarelli

      January 27, 2023 at 12:50 pm

      you wrote: “pulchritudinous”. That made me smile.
      My latin teacher would’ve thanked you too.

  • Harold Finch

    January 27, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    Halirious! If you got it, flaunt it, if you don’t, hide it!!

  • Scottinseattle

    January 27, 2023 at 2:04 pm

    If Florida didn’t already have a reputation for being misogynistic, maybe a legislative dress code wouldn’t be so controversial. In other words, reputation matters.

  • Bill Wrinkle

    January 27, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    “Donald Trump in a tank top.”

    Still want to see bare shoulders? Fine. Just don’t discriminate based on gender. If women should be able to have bare shoulders at work, so should men. If you’re not willing to have an egalitarian dress code that lets men dress down to the same standards of formality as women, then quit acting as if asking women to meet the same standards of formality as men is somehow discriminatory.

    • juparo

      January 31, 2023 at 2:30 pm

      Agreed, just keep it at the same standard for all and I’m fine with it. (I’ll have to go change out of my tank top)

  • marlean ann harvey

    February 1, 2023 at 5:02 pm

    Just keep it clean and classy.

  • Normal Person

    February 1, 2023 at 5:22 pm

    At last, the Florida Taliban shows its true self.

Comments are closed.


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