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Alderman seeks dress code for meetings

DOWNTOWN – John Collins-Muhammad says it’s time for every alderman and alderwoman in the City of St. Louis to look sharp when they’re doing public business.

Collins-Muhammad, an alderman who represents the north side’s 21st Ward, introduced a resolution on April 26 setting forth standards for dress for board members, staff and others on the floor.

That means coat and tie for men and blazers, skirts and suit pants for women during regular meetings, committee meetings or caucus meetings.

“A dress code is really needed. It exemplifies professionalism. We are professional legislators,” Collins-Muhammad said. Those standards are the same as in Congress, he said.

“I have not had any pushback yet. I am expecting that,” Collins-Muhammad said.

Aldermen and alderwomen interviewed about the resolution weren’t excited about it.

“When he starts buying my clothes, I’ll wear it,” said 12th Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz, who wore a jacket and a polo shirt at the April 26 meeting.

“I don’t know what the issue is. I don’t think anybody comes down here underdressed, Arnowitz said. He said he used to wear a tie, but finds it more comfortable in warmer weather to do without one. “I don’t sweat as bad.”

Twenty-Fifth Ward Alderman Shane Cohn said he doesn’t think it’s going to pass, while 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer said she thinks people should dress however they please.

“I brought my tie dye today, just in case I had to slip into tie dye and flip flops,” said Ninth Ward Alderman Dan Guenther, who comes to meetings with a laid back look.

Tenth Ward Alderman Joseph Vollmer said he hasn’t read Collins-Muhammad’s resolution. But he said, “I have respect for the office. My office belongs to the people who elected me, and I guess they expect me to respect the history of the chambers.” He wore a jacket and tie to the April 26 meeting.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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