It was Rep. Mike Yin (D-Teton County) who suggested stripping the dress code down to the basics. 

While meeting Feb. 8, the Legislature’s Management Council was reviewing a proposal to change its policy to align dress requirements for men and women. The representatives and senators were charting toward adding complexities to the Legislature’s complicated code. Hearing that Wyoming’s policy about permissible attire was already among the most prescriptive in the country, Yin motioned to forge a simpler path forward.

Let’s copy the New Mexico Legislature’s dress code, he urged, with a couple Wyoming-specific caveats.

“Members of the Wyoming Legislature shall dress in business attire befitting the decorum of the Legislature,” Yin motioned. “And the wearing of bolo ties shall be permitted, however denim shall not be permitted.” 

Everyone on the floor of the Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives, he proposed, would be held to the same standards. The Senate and House leaders would call the shots, discerning whose dress was not befitting of the Legislature. 

And that was it. Management Council went for it. 

It’s a stretch to say the Legislature’s updated, more open-to-interpretation dress code has triggered a Wyoming wardrobe revolution. The same slacks, blazers and blouses of yesteryear still dominate today in Cheyenne. 

Still, some western fashionistas representing the good people of Wyoming stand out more than others. Here are some snaps of lawmaker attire WyoFile captured during the first week of the 2022 legislative budget session. 

Larry Hicks (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Sen. Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) sports a bull elk-engraved bolo tie at the Wyoming State Capitol. Bolo ties are a standard accessory in the Legislature, and some lawmakers wear a different one for each day of the week. 

Lynn Hutchings (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne) was adorned with dangly turquoise-and-silver earrings, colorful beaded bracelets and sleek suit coat early on at the Wyoming Legislature’s budget session.

Cheri Steinmetz (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

WyoFile isn’t going to argue about it: Sen. Cheri Steinmetz’s (R-Lingle) faux lizard skin sport coat and chunky red glasses with a hint of cheetah are straight styling. 

Albert Sommers (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) didn’t own a sport coat before being elected to the Wyoming Legislature in 2013. The Sublette County cattleman bought two of them, each leather, one just “slightly different” than the other. 

Feet of Rep. Bob Wharff (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

It was the doctor’s orders that Rep. Bob Wharff (R-Evanston) use open-toed footwear at the Wyoming Legislature’s session. “I had a couple members giving me shit,” Wharff said. “I told them I’m a hippy. I co-sponsored medical marijuana legislation too, so I’m playing my image.” 

Karlee Provenza (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Rep. Karlee Provenza (D-Laramie) complements her jet black curls with a western-influenced turquoise shirt and a gray sport coat. The Albany County Democrat has been known to buck gender norms and sport bolo ties, too.

Mike Koshmrl

Mike Koshmrl reports from Jackson on state politics and Wyoming's natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures...

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  1. Respect is in the eye of the beholder. And that means that when you are an elected official, a school teacher, a judge, lawyer etc. when you are dressed in business attire you command respect. So, what do you want, respect or comfort when you are in a position of authority. Fair or not, that hasn’t changed.

  2. Love it, but most jeans are almost all spandex….. If I wear King I would say no synthetic fibers may be worn by any member of the legislature. Denim is just fine with a sport coat, in my humble opinion.

    I also sympathize with Representative Wharff but I would posit bare feet are a far better look than sandals and socks.

    1. Well said. Birkenstocks are comfy but not professional.
      “You’re not going out like that are you???”

  3. This is such a relief. I was losing sleep over the difficult wardrobe choices faced by lawmakers. Meanwhile we shop at thrift stores and try to feed our families on a tight budget that gets tighter by the day.

    1. Bob welcome to the world that was baked into the cake in 2000 and then accelerated by our terrible response to the 2008 crash. Free money drove the boom of fracking that boosted oil production at a loss to the investors. For 10 years from 2009 to 2019, oil cost less to the consumers than it should have because Fed dollars and investor dollars thought fracking made money.

      It did not but it kept inflation seemingly stable while we went deeper in debt.

      Wyoming leadership knows these facts but continue to want to drill on our lands with other peoples money while it is evident that does not work.

      You might want to study what is actually going on instead of what you are told is going on.

      PS electing a new President will not solve this dynamic. Fracking companies were already going out of business by 2019. Oil is the economy and we shot our wad on business as usual.

      https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/07/01/1027822/fracking-boom-jobs-industry/