Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Air Travel Attire - Don't Fly by the Seat of Your Pants

Yoga pants (XCVI, Zappos.com);  Cotton turtleneck (Steinmart); Boots (Apt. 9, Kohls); Hat (Jessica Simpson, Nordstrom Rack); Watch (Fossil, Nordstrom Rack); Scarf (made by my Mom!)
My recent post about going straight from the airport to a business meeting spawned a larger discussion about the idea held by all too many people that "sloppy" equals "comfort" on an airplane. One well-traveled reader admitted to being appalled by what people wear in the name of comfort and suggested a blog post about the benefits of eschewing those sloppy old sweat pants for something a little more presentable.  Indeed, while your beloved but paint splattered college sweatshirt may be just the thing for a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch, putting just a tad more effort into your travel attire has an intangible upside, and there's no reason to forego comfort in the process!

As Virginia Woolf said in Orlando, “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us.”  Certainly, this quote rings true in most aspects of life.  Personally, I am never particularly "comfortable" when I look sloppy, and as one reader put it, "I just feel better when I look respectable."   How you present yourself is also apt to affect the attitude of those in a position to make your trip better (or worse).  TSA, gate agents, flight attendants, and the chatty Cathy seated next to you are more likely to treat you respectfully (and help you out if you need it!) when you don't look like you just escaped from an episode of Extreme Hoarding.  I'm not suggesting it's appropriate to treat people differently based on how they're dressed - I'm just making a practical observation about a common reality.  And frankly, in my own travels, I just want to get from A to B with as little inconvenience and frustration as possible.  If the way I'm dressed furthers that goal, I'm all for it.

Moreover, you never know who you may run into at the airport or on the plane.  While backpacking in Europe several years ago, I spent a few days in Barcelona with a girl who trekked all over Spain with a dress in her backpack specifically for her flight home, "just in case she met her future husband."  I laughed at the time, and this still strikes me as a bit extreme, but I have lost count of the number of times I've run into colleagues and clients during a trip (even on vacation), and on a few occasions I've gained new clients who I'm fairly certain would not have kept my business card if I'd been sitting next to them in a pair of sweats with some juicy word scrawled across the butt.  

That said, if I'm not headed straight from the tarmac to an event with a specific dress code (and even if I am), I still want to be comfortable.  I often travel in XCVI yoga pants like the ones above.  Yep - Yoga pants!  These pants are the most comfortable pants in my closet (I own several pair in different colors).  Paired with a cotton turtleneck and a scarf, the ensemble looks chic, but is cozy and comfortable for a chilly plane ride.  In warmer weather, I pair these pants with a solid color t-shirt, a light jacket, and sandals.  Easy, peasy, and not a bit sloppy.

Here are a few other tips to help you travel in style AND comfort:

-  Choose items that don't wrinkle easily.  I once wore a beautiful linen jacket for a flight to Orlando en route to a cruise vacation.  I looked like a hot mess by the time I got off the plane. Lesson learned.

-  Choose an outfit that needs minimal accessories to look "finished."  You'll avoid the potential of having to remove multiple pieces to go through security.  While not strictly "outfit" related, I once got held up in security because the multiple bobby pins securing my "updo" (a remnant of a formal event the night prior) triggered the metal detector.  It wasn't feasible to take my hair down, so I had to endure a pat down of my head that reminded me of those elementary school head lice checks to which we were all periodically subjected.

-  Choose items that will easily mix and match with things you've packed.  It allows you to pack lighter.

-  If you're headed from a cold climate to one with less extreme weather, consider leaving your winter coat in the car.  It takes up lots of space and is awkward to carry.

-  Wear a light jacket or scarf for a layer of added warmth that can be easily removed and stowed if not needed.  Airplanes are cold!

-  Wear shoes that are easy to take off and on when going through security (for me, this means nothing with laces).  Your shoes should also have good traction in case you have to rush to make a connection (and if you just have to wear heels, make sure you can still walk in them easily while schlepping your luggage and that they won't slow you down if you're in a hurry). 

-  If it's a long flight, make sure your footwear is also roomy enough to accommodate some swelling.  I once sat next to a woman on a trip from New York to Germany whose feet swelled so badly she couldn't get her shoes back on when we landed and had to deplane in her bare feet.  

-  If it's a long flight, take an extra pair of socks or slippers in your carry on so that you can kick your shoes off under your seat.

-  Hats are good for hiding bed head on an international flight, but unless they're made to be "crushable," they're not easy to pack so if you wear one, plan on wearing it for your return trip, as well.  

-  Minimize your use of perfume.  Being clean is essential, but heavy perfumes may irritate those seated near you.  The Golden Rule applies!

Happy Travels!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

No comments:

Post a Comment