Female lawmakers in Montana told to check skirt lengths, necklines

Female lawmakers in Montana told to check skirt lengths, necklines

A new dress code for the Montana House of Representatives that bans jeans and warns women to watch skirt lengths and necklines has drawn the ire of female lawmakers, who say it suggests they cannot independently decide what attire is appropriate.

The wardrobe code was enacted by male leaders of the Republican-controlled House in advance of a legislative session that begins on Jan. 5. Most members of the chamber's Democratic minority are women, who say they were not consulted about new rules that target them for apparel infractions.

House Minority Whip Jenny Eck said the sartorial standards sought to curb women's clothing choices, raising questions about their judgment and seeking to limit their independence.

"The code crosses a line. It singles women out for admonishment and suggests they can't be trusted to get up in the morning and dress appropriately," said the Democrat from the state capital, Helena.

Saying Montana residents had more serious matters on their minds, Eck said: "I've never had any constituent say to me: 'You women in the Legislature have to watch your skirt lengths.'"

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