Fact Check

Does President Trump's White House Dress Code Mandate Dresses for Female Staffers?

Aggregations akin to a game of 'telephone' led to rumors that President Trump's White House dress code mandated female staffers exclusively wear dresses.

Published Feb 3, 2017

 (lev radin / Shutterstock, Inc.)
Image Via lev radin / Shutterstock, Inc.
President Trump's White House dress code includes a requirement women wear dresses.
What's True

An article citing an anonymous source who claimed to have worked with Donald Trump in the unspecified past held that Trump strongly preferred a specific style of dress among staffers.

What's False

The article did not say that anyone in the Trump administration White House was compelled to wear a dress.

On 2 February 2017, International Business Times (IBT) pubished an article headlined "Donald Trump White House Dress Code Policy? Female Staffers Must ‘Dress Like Women,’ President Says." Citing an source called "Axios," the IBT reported that:

As a former owner of beauty pageants, President Donald Trump is known to be very critical of one’s physical appearances, and he has apparently taken that trait with him into the White House. In a new report released Thursday, Trump said male staffers should wear ties and women must “dress like women,” unnamed sources told Axios.

The report stated that men were required to wear ties at all times.

The former "Celebrity Apprentice" host also judges women’s appearances, an anonymous Trump campaign source said. Even if they wear jeans, they “need to look neat and orderly,” the source added. In most cases, Trump wants women who work for him "to dress like women."

Female campaign field office staffers felt compelled to wear dresses, mainly to impress Trump, according to the report.

The IBT article appeared to be sourced entirely from a speculative 2 February 2017 Axios article about the personality of President Trump, not from a documented White House dress code being enforced by the new administration.

After several paragraphs of exposition about President Trump's purported likes, dislikes, and motivations, Axios surmised that Trump's sartorial preferences were specific and rigid. Axios cited "a source who [has] worked with Trump," presumably not someone party to current goings-on in the White House:

[President Trump's] obsession with optics, style and TV glam are central to his being. Here are some gems we picked up reporting this:

• Trump judges men's appearances as much as women's. A source who's worked with Trump explains: "If you're going to be a public person for him, whether it's a lawyer or representing him in meetings, then you need to have a certain look. That look — at least for any male — you have to be sharply dressed. Preferably, I would say, solid colors. ... You should have a good physical demeanor, good stature, hair well groomed."

• Trump pays close attention to ties. Says a source who has worked with Trump: "You're always supposed to wear a tie. If it's not a Trump tie, you can get away with Brooks Brothers. But I'd suggest Armani."  Trump prefers wider, traditional ties, this source says. Regarding Trump's rakish policy adviser Stephen Miller, the source adds: "I've always been surprised about how Stephen Miller survives with those thin ties."

Trump likes the women who work for him "to dress like women," says a source who worked on Trump's campaign. "Even if you're in jeans, you need to look neat and orderly." We hear that women who worked in Trump's campaign field offices — folks who spend more time knocking on doors than attending glitzy events — felt pressure to wear dresses to impress Trump.

• Staff knew Trump would be hacked off at press secretary Sean Spicer for not dressing fancy enough for his first briefing-room appearance. "It'd be one thing to wear a pinstripe that fit him perfectly," said one person who has spent a lot of time with Trump. "But, it was like, he had a gap in his collar. I was like, 'Oh God, he's going to get reamed.'"

"I was getting text messages: Can you believe what he's wearing?" the person continued. "Four people texted me, because we know the boss. ... Trump is very much about: Present yourself in the best light. If you're going to represent him, even more so." Spicer seems to have learnt his lesson. Since then, he's only appeared in well-tailored dark suits, coupled with perfectly knotted ties.

• One exception: Steve Bannon, who wouldn't be caught dead in Armani and has been photographed in the Oval Office without a tie, gets a pass. A source explains: "Steve is Steve ... He's cavalier almost about what he wears."

At no point did the original source suggest or claim that President Trump had instituted a White House dress code mandating women wear dresses only. That article cited an anonymous source who almost certainly does not work with President Trump in the White House and vacillated between speculative statements and anecdotes about the current chief executive's likes and dislikes.

A request for comment from the White House had not been responded to at publication time.


Allen, Mike and Jonathan Swan.   "Trump 101: The Producer of His Own Epic Film."     Axios.   2 February 2017.

Boursiquot, Sherley.   "Donald Trump White House Dress Code Policy? Female Staffers Must ‘Dress Like Women,’ President Says."     International Business Times.   2 February 2017.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.