In a Sartorial About-Face, Senate Reverts to Tradition on Its Dress Code

A week after the top Senate Democrat announced a more casual standard for dress in the chamber, a bipartisan pair won passage of a measure requiring that business attire be worn.

In a Sartorial About-Face, Senate Reverts to Tradition on Its Dress Code

The Senate formalized a long-standing, but unofficial, requirement that senators wear business attire to the chamber on Wednesday.

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution late on Wednesday that codified for the first-time the suit and tie uniform. The Senate unanimously approved the resolution late Wednesday, a week-and-a half after Senator Chuck Schumer announced a relaxation of the decades old dress code. Some senators, including Mr. Fetterman, loosened their ties, while others clutched pearls.

The new standards are enforceable and were put forward by Senators Joe Manchin III (Democrat from West Virginia) and Mitt Romney (Republican from Utah). They state that 'business wear' is mandatory for all members. Men must wear a jacket, tie, and slacks, or long pants.

The events of the past week made Mr. Schumer feel that formalizing a dress code is the best way to go. He wore a navy jacket with a buffalo-silhouette pattern tie on the Senate floor.

This was after Mr. Schumer made a decision last week that the Senate sergeant at arms should not have been allowed to do so.

No more police uniforms for members

The move was made to accommodate Mr. Fetterman. He is a 6-foot-8 senator with a mustache and tattoos who can be seen most often in the Capitol wearing Carhartt sweatshirts or baggy shorts.

The draft changes were circulated by Mr. Manchin, and Mr. Romney earlier this week. They wanted to end the controversy over clothing choices that had been preoccupying senators as they tried to find a solution to avoid a shutdown of the government within days.

"This isn't the biggest thing that's going on in Washington right now -- it's actually not one of the most important things happening in Washington right now -- but it's still a good thing," said Romney, an alumnus of a prep-school who was required to wear a three-quarter jacket and a tie during his teenage years.

Mr. Manchin who was one of the first Democrats to voice dismay at the change in dress code, described the decision as 'wrong', said that he worked with Mr. Fetterman on a solution.

Mr. Manchin, dressed in a gray suit with a notch lapel and a striped tie with a neatly ruffled sash pocket square, said: "It was truly a team effort."

He said: 'You know that for the past 234 years every senator who has served in this distinguished body assumed that there are some basic written rules on decorum, conduct, and civility. One of these was the dress-code.'

Manchin, upon discovering that there was no official policy on what senators were allowed to wear and not allow, saw the opportunity to implement a measure that would last for a few centuries.

To change the dress code, two-thirds of voters must approve any changes. This is 67 votes higher than the 60 votes required to end a filibuster.

Mr. Fetterman, seen leaving the Capitol in a burgundy sweatshirt on Thursday, did not respond directly to questions regarding the new rule. His office instead sent out a picture of a viral meme that showed actor Kevin James as 'King Of Queens' character Doug Heffernan shrugging and smiling at the camera.