Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What Not to Wear (in the Air)

A few weeks ago, I was reading A Dress a Day and clicked through a link to one of Erin's archived posts. The post was all about her disappointment in the sloppy appearance of American travelers these days, and her (very strong) opinions about what is and is not appropriate to wear on an airplane. Frankly, I found the whole thing pretty snobby and ridiculous, particularly for where I live and where I tend to fly. In California, as far as I'm concerned, flip-flops are appropriate for about 70% of all occasions, including many job interviews and office environments. And as for apparel, I live in Silicon Valley - do you have any idea how most engineers and computer programmers dress for work? When we were first discussing engagement, J. and I went to Tiffany's to look at rings; I, in my skirt, sweater, and sandals, was ignored completely, while J., in his old t-shirt, cargo shorts, and dirty sneakers, was fawned over by multiple sales people. Why? Because they're not stupid - they know what a successful tech man looks like.

Yep, that's about what they look like, except sometimes the mustard is replaced by soy sauce.

Okay, so much for "dressing for travel the way you would for a job," because apparently the way we all dress for jobs is already kind of sloppy. Plus, when you're like me and all you ever fly is Southwest, there's no point in dressing up in the hopes of getting moved up to the nonexistent first-class section. But there were also arguments about flip-flops and high heels being dangerous in an emergency situation, and that's why we shouldn't wear them on airplanes. To this I say: If I can dance a polka, chase a toddler, and throw a backflip in flip-flops and heels, I can safely exit a plane. And who are these people who get on planes and take their stinky shoes off? That's just bad manners in general, though I'd like to point out that feet that have been wearing flip-flops are likely a lot more aired-out than feet that have been enclosed in flats or sneakers.

So yeah, I was a little suspicious of this post I'd read. I still don't see what's wrong with a pair of comfortable yoga pants and a tank top (assuming they fit and are clean - there's a difference between being comfortable and looking like a hobo) and some flip-flops. But I did decide for my Vegas flight this weekend that I would try to step up my look just a little bit. NOT because I care if someone is judging me for wearing flip-flops, but because there was no reason I couldn't. My ride was picking me up at 4:00, and I had the whole day up until then to pack and get ready. And besides, I have a lot of cute, comfortable clothes that are nice but not too fancy. I decided to dress up my travel attire for myself, because sometimes, it's fun to put in the extra effort and go out the door feeling pretty.

This does not qualify for "looking pretty" in my book. Maybe if it were lime green...

I was pleasantly surprised that when my friend arrived he commented almost immediately. "You look really nice," he said after saying hello; when I arrived in Vegas, my mom also commented on my nice clothing. But even more surprising was a compliment I received at the airport from a fellow passenger as we waited to board. An older man, maybe 55 years old, spoke to me in a thick European accent. "I meant to make you a compliment when you sat earlier," he said. "You dress very nicely. My daughter dresses very like that - classy but feminine and just nice. I like very much." I was quite taken aback, but thanked him for his comment and walked away feeling quite smiley.

While I'm not sure I'm ready to totally give up the idea of comfort clothes on airplanes, I'm not quite as against the nicer clothing as I was before. When I have the time and inclination, I'll probably remember how this trip went and put in a little extra thought and care to what I put on for my travels. Though I still say that unless someone's paying me money, I am not voluntarily sitting in a crowded airplane in a skirt suit.

Even if it does make me look particularly fabulous.


What do y'all wear when you travel? Does it matter if you're traveling for business or pleasure? Do you judge others for what they wear? Do share - that's why the comments are there.


Anonymous said...

When I knew I was going to be traveling for close to twenty four hours, I am anti-nice and pretty. I walked onto the plane in a pair of pajama pants that could pass for yoga pant, a tank top, and a hoodie.

When I have a shorter flight, I'll wear jeans with a t-shirt and a hoodie. I've never seen a point in wearing a skirt or a dress on the plane, as my legs get cold.

But I'm not a good judge - I wear bermuda shorts with almost everything.

CityStreams said...

I am all about the flip flops on airplanes. Because if you're in the air for longer than an hour, your feet swell. At least mine do. Sneakers start to hurt.

I usually wear my nicest dark jeans, flip-flops (or pretty sandals) and a sassy shirt. If it's going to be cold, then I've learned to dress in thin layers because the airport and the plane are almost always set to opposite ends of the thermostat.

I try to stay away from the t-shirt look as much as possible, these days. Mostly because I don't want to look like I've "let myself go." You know, new baby and all.

I really enjoyed this post and the questions.

Maggie said...

While I realize that I will probably take some heat for this, I really do judge people based on their look. It isn't right for me to do so, but how you look makes an impression. I see no reason why you can't be comfortable and presentable -- which really doesn't take a ton of time. I know that sometimes getting 'dressed up' isn't really an option, but putting on things that are clean and that match don't take but ten seconds more than putting on something that is wrinkled or stained.

As far as when travel goes, I don't 'dress up' but I do look nice. I wouldn't go so far as to wear a suit (unless I was needing that particular attire immediately upon my arrival or just prior to my departure), but I don't wear an old t shirt either.

I think that everyone has different levels of comfort - I wouldn't be comfortable in pajama pants or an old t shirt, but I don't begrudge people who are.

Anonymous said...

it's all about comfort and efficiency. i log over 100,000 miles a year on international flights and spend an inordinate amount of time at airports.

i wear shoes that can be slipped off easily yet allow for that long trek across the airport (because for some reason, the folks at heathrow want you to walk halfway to scotland in order to catch the flight to edinburgh). that and a light jacket that can be tucked away in your carry on before hitting security (unless it's winter and you need that heavy coat). being behind people who seem to be surprised by the shoe removal/jacket removal as they are about to clear the metal detectors is pretty annoying. i like the lax set up where they have the lane split by travel experience, but i digress.

i used to dress up more before i started getting the uber high status with my airline. now, my miles flown and $$$ spent dictate how i get treated so i care much less, although jeans is as casual as i get. i don't think i've ever done pajama bottoms/yoga/sweat pants.

the upside of not dressing as nice? slimy, obviously married, it's-clear-you're-a-sales-rep types are less likely to hit on you.

flutter said...

if you don't smell, and your bits are covered, we are cool.

Mojo said...

Lime Green could not save that outfit. Nothing could save that outfit apart from maybe a flamethrower.
It does however, have it all over these two jewels

Still Jill B said...

I pondered that exact post not long before my trip to SF. My planeware (wear?) usually relates to my destination and purpose.

I will say that around here, flip flops in an interview will not get you the job - they'll get you labeled young and inexperienced. Ironically, Chacos would probably be acceptable (as they're acceptable work-wear most places). Maybe because they're a more expensive lifestyle statement, and there are far too many granola-heads like me to write them off b/c of footwear. Most interviewers are taught to view footwear as an important indicator.

East Coast Teacher said...

Unless it's the middle of winter, I'm all about flip flops when flying. I plan to wear them on my trip next month, as a matter of fact.

As for actual clothes, typically, I wear jeans or khaki shorts and a nice top and always, always have my blue, hoodie Boston sweatshirt with me, because the airport and the plane?

Freakin' freezing!

I will also always wear make-up and (sometimes) my contacts.

I believe in dressing for comfort, regardless of the length of the flight (travel days always make me feel blah), but not sloppy.

As for flip flops in an interview?

Out here, I'd be laughed out the door!

Anonymous said...

Comfort over fashion. I just don't understand why some people choose to go balls out when they travel. Unless they have to get right off a plane and go into an interview?

Unknown said...

Anytime I travel, I have to wear my best underwear...not because I think I might get lucky, but because my Mother's words haunt me.

Wolf Lover Girl said...

How fantastic that he complimented you. I bet you were beaming.

As for me... I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal. Rarely wear flip flops though especially on a plane as my little toes get cold. And I also bring a long sleeve denim shirt to wear as a jacket when the plane gets cold.

~ Wolf Lover Girl

michelle said...

Jeans and a tee shirt with a fleece or hoodie do just fine. I am always cold on a plane always so I can't wear shorts. My shoes vary but flip flops are fine with me too.....

All that said your experience of dressing up a bit sounds like it was a good one. I do find that if I take a bit more care in my appearance I feel better about myself too!

Teacher Anonymous said...

I'm just going to take a wild stab and say that the person writing that blog isn't from California. We here on the west coast are just lot more casual.

Besides, there are such things as nice flip flops.

Mrs. Chili said...

I actually sometimes get crap for how "nicely" I dress on a regular basis. Over the course of a few years, I've managed to cull out all the floppy or sloppy clothing from my wardrobe (though I DO still have a couple of paint-spattered jeans; you know, for when I'm painting). I only wear yoga clothes when I'm going to (or coming from, duh) yoga class. Right now, on a random Wednesday, I'm wearing a textured tank top in light lavender and a skort in what I'd describe as nice denim. Casual, but still classy. Oh, and if I were going somewhere (a restaurant or such), I'd put on a light sweater, just to cover the shoulders.

I wear a pair of Sketchers step-into-them sneakers when I travel. They're comfy, and I don't have to fuss getting them off and on for airport security. If I'm traveling in the summer, I'd wear my sandals - I don't own typical flip-flops, but that's just because they make my feet hurt, not because I'm a flip-flop snob - and whatever I put on in the morning (oh, and a wireless bra - I HATE it when the wand squeals over my boobs!).

Anonymous said...

I definitely dress to impress. When traveling, I wear clothing specific to my destination. The only trouble is when I have a connection. For example, the other day I was flying to Milwaukee and had a connection through Dallas/Fort Worth. Unfortunately, the first flight was delayed, so I had only about five minutes to run off the first plane; change out of my cowboy boots, oversize belt buckle (murder to get through security, by the way), and 10-gallon hat and into a flannel shirt and cheesehead hat; and then madly dash for the next plane. Sigh. The rigors we fashionistas endure.

Ali said...

I always travel in my lululemon yoga pants and pumas. stop judging me!

BetteJo said...

Okay, you know how proud Stacy would be right now? She would be positively verklempt Honey. :)

Kennethwongsf said...

To be honest, I'm more concerned with my fellow passenger's body odor than their fashion. If I'm to be sitting next to someone for 5-8 hours, I wish she/she doesn't have any offensive smell. Since I happen to be single, I also secretly wish whoever jumps into the seat next to me is easy on the eyes and doesn't wear a wedding ring. (It makes the flight so much more tolerable.)

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...

I look pretty nice most of the time, unless I'm flying to Asia. I've met so many people flying, and you never know could could be at the airport! So I like to be prepared.

(Unless I'm flying across the world...then, it's sweats and flipflops.)

Teacha said...

I wear jeans or sweats or yoga pants and a t-shirt, each and everytime. Sitting in a seat forever can be the most uncomfortable thing in the world and comfort is the most important thing anyway, especially when you all you do is read and snore. My question is: Do people really care what you look like when you on a plane?