A picture of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wearing a suit prompted waves of controversy online on Thursday.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, elected to congress in November, has spoken of her financial struggles. Last week the 29-year-old said she will find it difficult to pay her rent until she picks up her first pay cheque in January.
But conservative critics have attempted to portray the concerns of the self-described “democratic socialist” as disingenuous.
“Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now,” Washington Examiner reporter Eddie Scarry wrote on Twitter, posting a picture of the congresswoman from behind.
“I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.”
Mr Scarry later deleted his tweet.
Mr Scarry’s tweet drew thousands of responses, with social media users across the political spectrum quick to react.
Fox News broadcaster Geraldo Rivera called criticism of Ms Ocasio Cortez’s clothes “creepy”, while Vox correspondent Liz Plank objected to the use of the term “girl”.
Others highlighted further serious transgressions of which the politician might be accused.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez labelled Mr Scarry’s criticism “misogyny”.
“If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh and take a picture of my backside” she wrote.
“If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh and take a picture of my backside.”
After deleting the tweet, Mr Scarry said it had been misconstrued.
“I posted a tweet earlier suggesting the incoming congresswoman looked well put together – elegant even – despite suggestions she’s struggled,” he explained.
“The tweet was taken as something else, so I’ve deleted it.”
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The congresswoman came to prominence after beating veteran Democrat Joe Crowley in a New York congressional primary in July. In the months since, she has been subject to unusually intense scrutiny.
In November, Fox and Friends host Katie Pavlich said Ms Ocasio-Cortez represented “hypocrisy at its best” and had “expensive tastes for a socialist” after she wore expensive clothes for a magazine photo shoot. The congresswoman was forced to clarify she did not keep the clothes.
Thursday was Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s second day in Congress. On her first she said she was repeatedly mistaken for an intern.
“People keep giving me directions to the spouse and intern events instead of the ones for members of Congress,” she tweeted.