White House Posts Its Fashion Do's and Don'ts

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Bush administration may be taking some hits lately in the polls, but that doesn't mean it's going to let down its sartorial standards.

So signs have popped up at various White House entrances -- including the press entrance and the staff and visitors' entrance at the southwest gate -- along with e-mails to staff members, to remind everyone, particularly tour groups, that, even in these times of sinking poll numbers, proper attire is to be maintained.

The e-mail reminder was all in capital letters. It advised that there would be no jeans, sneakers, shorts, miniskirts, T-shirts, tank tops and -- with boldface added -- "NO FLIP FLOPS." (Which, of course, is good advice, if rarely followed in this town.)

These prohibitions would be in force "regardless of weather conditions."

Some visitors from the Reagan and Bush I days were taken aback by the rule postings. "We were plenty button-down," recalled a Reagan aide who saw one of the signs, but added: "Do they have nothing else to do" than fret about this?

It's unclear if there was some particular event that sparked the crackdown. And though it appears directed at tour groups, visitors, staff members and press regulars assume they're included.

"When the Clintons came in, all hell broke loose" in terms of dress code -- and perhaps other things? -- one current aide said. "We're just trying to get things back on track."

And flip-flops have always been verboten. "As you know, this administration has a strong record against flip-flops," said White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore. But Crocs, with or without socks, presumably are okay if you're biking with Bush.

There's also a sign posted in front of the new podium about "Press briefing room tour guidelines."

It says:

Please do not stand on the

riser or behind the podium

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