Editor’s note: This article has been updated to ensure clarity.
In 2016, Donald Trump was quoted in a Time article stating: “It’s not the polls. It’s the ratings.” From that, some on social media inferred that he values appearance over substance. And after a report emerged last week alleging that he has strong opinions on how his employees should dress, Twitter users are responding with signature furor.
As reported by Axios, a source who worked on the Trump campaign said that the president likes women “to dress like women,” meaning he prefers them to wear skirts and dresses. Reportedly, even women who worked in the field offices during the campaign, who were going door-to-door canvassing for the GOP nominee, felt pressured to wear dresses.
“Even if you’re in jeans, you need to look neat and orderly,” the source said.
In response to what is perceived as a sexist viewpoint, women have been clapping back at the president on Twitter with #DressLikeAWoman, sharing pictures of professional women, from scientists to soldiers, at work.
In fairness, it doesn’t just apply to women. According to the report, men are also expected to dress the part.
“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,” a source says. “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.”
Although none of these rumours have been confirmed by the White House, Trump’s preference for women to dress “sexy” has been well documented.
In a 2016 exposé published in The Hollywood Reporter, Kristi Frank, a former contestant on The Apprentice, said that the show’s casting directors would push a particular aesthetic on women.
“They happened to pick the shortest skirt I had for the opening when I could meet Mr. Trump,” she said. “They wanted us to be sexy.”
Marshawn Evans, a season four contestant, recalled: “Every day that I had an interview, they were very particular about my wardrobe. If it didn’t meet the Trump sexy style, they would say this is not what would fit, or blend, or what Donald would like.”
In an Associated Press investigation where the news organization interviewed more than 20 former Apprentice cast and crew, ex-contestant Gene Folkes disclosed that during one season, “Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage.”
The White House has not responded to the dress code allegations.