Light Wave


Fetterman: What’s wrong with dressing like an out-of-work teen?

By Jake Beardslee · September 28, 2023

In brief…

  • Senator Fetterman remains puzzled by his dress-code controversy, calling it "mystifying."
  • Meanwhile, his Senate colleagues unanimously passed a resolution restoring the dress code.
  • He said the Senate should focus on more important issues than his attire.
  • He explained that wearing hoodies is about comfort and accessibility, not undermining tradition.
  • Fetterman called on NJ Sen. Bob Menendez to resign immediately amid corruption charges.
Senator John Fetterman (above) defended his teenage garb while demanding the resignation of Sen. Bob Menendez over corruption charges.  PopTech from Camden, Maine and Brooklyn, NY, USA/Wikimedia

Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) seems puzzled by the brouhaha over his hyper-casual attire in the U.S. Senate. Despite Fetterman’s puzzlement, his Senate colleagues unanimously passed a resolution restoring the chamber’s business-attire dress code.

Fetterman said the dress code issue has been “mystifying,” and that the Senate should focus on more pressing matters.

“Don’t we have a lot of really, really, really, really, really more important things that we should be addressing here about the Senate?” Fetterman told Forbes.

While some colleagues have casually approved of his hoodies and shorts, Fetterman said no one has directly confronted him about violating the Senate tradition. He dismissed the idea that his clothes would somehow undermine the institution.

“It’s really just kind of part of another bizarre part of the whole thing,” Fetterman said.

The Pennsylvania Democrat explained his motivations are simply comfort and the difficulty finding suits in his size.

“It’s not the person that is made by how they dress as well, too,” Fetterman said. “If you would have showed up dressed like Spider-Man, I still would have been delighted to speak to you because I know you’re a professional.”

Fetterman also noted the financial burden of formal clothes, especially for Senate staffers.

“They work very, very hard. And that is a major financial burden, you know, including dry cleaning as well, too,” he said.

The freshman senator went on to call on embattled New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez to resign immediately amid his ongoing corruption case. Fetterman said he was surprised to be the first to demand Menendez’s exit.

“It’s so stark…it’s like my dude, you are going somewhere and it’s going to be an election or it’s going to be a conviction,” Fetterman said.