Rant-tastic subject #143: "What to Wear on Airplanes"


juicy sweatpants

[Hint: it's not the above.]

For years, and I mean YEARS, of pretty much monthly travel, I've been boggled at what people decide is appropriate to wear on airplanes. Just absolutely boggled. The sweatpants and the stiletto mules (often on the same person), the jeans that are more holes than jeans (with matching holey t-shirts), the ratty flip-flops, the micro-minis. I could never figure it out, until last night, while waiting for the red-eye home to Chicago from SFO, I had a little epiphany, or perhaps a little interlude of sleep-deprivation. (So hard to tell the difference, really.)

My take is that people who wear clothes on airplanes that are better suited to washing a series of strangers' cars at $5/pop have essentially given up all hope that they will ever be the recipient of happy chance. They've decided serendipity is not for them, so they've forsaken the notion that perhaps one day they may need to make a good first impression on a stranger. (They've also decided that they don't ever need to be upgraded to business class, never mind first.)

Me, I won't get on a plane in anything less than I would wear to a business-casual meeting. Usually a skirt + cardigan, mostly a skirt + comfy jacket. At least two pockets are essential, so I don't have to keep digging in my bag for ID & boarding pass. Flat shoes that slip on and off easily are a must, so that I can play my walk-through role in the TSA's security theater with aplomb. (The next time I'm behind someone in strappy, multi-buckle gladiator sandals, though, I'm tossing THEM to the lions.) If I'm flying on Saturday, *maybe* I will wear sneakers, but they're nice one, not the ones I use for mowing the lawn.

This way, if I end up sitting next to someone interesting, I don't have to shout over what my clothes are saying. Last night I saw clothes that said "I model for Frederick's of Hollywood, Lamé Division"; clothes that said "my favorite Saturday morning cartoon and a bowl of chocolate-frosted sugar bombs are what I REALLY need right now"; and clothes that said "I can change the oil in my car — and recently have." None of those clothes said "Take me seriously, please."

I'm not against comfort — notice I said "flat shoes, comfy jacket" and I wear t-shirts, for sure, not fussy silk blouses — but there's a line between 'comfortable' and 'raggedy-ass lazy' and the airport is not the place to cross that line. An airplane is a confined space, and, like any confined space, demands MORE civility and regard for others, not less.

So, please: no more flip-flops (and if you do wear flip-flops, please try to keep track of them, so that we aren't all held up on deplaning by you searching under three rows of seats for your left one). Try for clothes that have structural integrity; turbulence can be rough, you know? And I know they sell perfume (cheap, too!) in the airport, but that doesn't mean you get to try on five different ones before you board.

Before you leave for the airport, look at yourself in the mirror, and think: Could I meet and IMPRESS someone who would change my life while wearing this? And if the answer is "No," change. And add a sweater: those planes can get cold.

0 thoughts on “Rant-tastic subject #143: "What to Wear on Airplanes"

  1. I like what Risa said, and am *totally with* Stacy. I also like Ashleys thing, because its about doing it for herself. I can relate to dressing up, a little or a lot, for that reason! Im not the least bit sorry that I dont own anything thats business/casual. Im glad I dont! Its not me, and at this point in my life, Id feel misrepresented in it.I love to see people travelling in pyjamas. Makes me smile.I take the train, more than the plane, and staff always treat me (and my similarly relaxed-dressed friends and colleagues) with a lot of respect. Like Anonymous 11:51, Ive also been given upgrades and extras. But I prefer riding Coach; its atmosphere pleases me.I recently rode the train seated beside a magnificent concert pianist. She was dressed very nicely probably always does and I was in some version of my usual jeans or ankle-length peasant skirt with tied-dyed t-shirt, and with bare feet in Naot sandals. Or maybe I was wearing my indigo denim Ikeda overalls that day. We quickly discovered that the other was intelligent, talented, and worldly; and we had a stimulating and satisfying conversation that wasnt really over by the time I had to get off. In our regular lives, we move in different circles which probably confer different meaning to, and interpret signals differently for, dress; but that created no obstacle. It made the meeting more interesting. I think we both felt quite uplifted by our encounter!I also think that perhaps most of us judge (or draw impressions of) others by dress, but we dont all judge them the same way. To each their own, and their own interpretation of what they see. And from this point of view, imposing a dress code (as some have suggested) on public places such as airplanes wouldnt make any sense, and wouldnt be fair.

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  2. I often wear flip flops when flying, but I am from sunny Southern California. I wear them all the time. I have never lost them on a plane or hurt myself. They also don’t slip off my feet, but again I wear them a lot, so I know how to walk in them. I usually wear a skirt, top and bring a jacket with me. I flew once in knit pants and a baggy top and noticed I didn’t get as much help with my baggage as I usually do. I normally fly by myself. While dressing nice is not an open invitation to talk to me, I notice on open seating planes or buses, I get more normal non-drunk people sitting next to me than ones who are dressed poorly.Even on red-eyes, I dress nice. I just bring a blanket to cover up my legs.

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  3. Okay, it’s (almost) all been said, so I’ll be brief. Pajamas are for sleeping in, or watching tv while waiting to sleep in, not for going out into any part of the world in. They are private clothes, not public clothes.

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  4. I’ll never travel by any mode of transit in schumply clothes again. A true and recent story- my girl scout troop was traveling to Washington DC by van to go to the 95th anniversary of Scouting celebration. Because we didn’t have much time to make the trip, we drove overnight from Chicago to DC, leaving at nine o’clock Thursday night. We were supposed to arrive at 10 or 11 the next morning, with plenty of time to check into our rooms and get changed before we had an appointment to tour the Capitol with staffers from our Congressman’s office. Because it was an overnight trip, I elected to wear pajama pants and a t-shirt hoping to get some sleep. Well, the trip didn’t go as planned. Right after the Maryland state line we ran into a twelve mile back up and sat in the car hardly moving because of a major accident that closed all lanes of the highway for nearly three hours. We made it DC just in time for our appointment. I, and several others in my troop, ended up changing in the parking lot of the National botanic garden near the Capitol so that I didn’t have to tour the Capitol in my jammies. I am never, and I do mean never, wearing them outside of the house again.

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  5. Amen, Sister! I’ve had my full of airport exposure to butt-crack and muffin-top.Women, on the whole, have apparently forgotten how practical and comfy a full, knee-or-more-length skirt can be. Said skirt, especially with elastic waist appropriately covered by coordinating untucked T-shirt, is comfortable, concealing (go ahead, spread those legs! bend over! let a couple of yards of material do what they were meant to do!) and creates the impression that the wearer is respectable. I can almost guarantee that a woman wearing such a skirt will skate through security and customs, provided, of course, that she’s not hiding a Derringer or two in her garters.

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  6. When flying is time-consuming, tiring and dirty, there’s really no need to dress as though it’s an ‘occasion’. Every day of your life is an occasion. Dress as you see fit.What disturbs me about the flip-flops discussion is the people who slip them off for speed at the security checkpoint. There is SYPHILIS on the floor. Really. They’ve pap-smeared the airport carpet. Wear socks, folks.

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  7. The degeneration of society. I just want to not see anyone else’s intimates. This includes brastraps under tank tops, pjs in public, buttcrack, muffin top, slippers in public…the list goes on. It’s so easy to look like an adult. Let’s expect a little more of ourselves!

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  8. You are not supposed to wear high-heeled shoes on the exit slide if you must deplane in an emergency. Even something like a cowboy boot has too sharp of a heel.They will poke holes in the slide, causing it to deflate, and potentially injure people below you on the slide. My understanding is that in an emergency you will be told to take them off. I don’t know why they even allow people to wear high heels on a plane. It would make more sense to ban high heels than it does to ban liquids.

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  9. all of which makes me realize that i will have to buy something to wear to a funeral tomorrow because all i own anymore are sweats and shorts-

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  10. I guess I don’t mind the pyjamas. What I mind are the girls who wear the pyjamas that look like they haven’t been washed in weeks (droopy butt) and rolled down so that any time they see fit to bend over or merely sit down, the world gets a good long look at their butt crack. When did plumber’s butt become fashionable? Of course, this isn’t only an airport thing, this is an everywhere thing. No wonder I can’t find a decent lengthed shirt any longer, they’re making them long so that we hopefully won’t have to see your bare bum.

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  11. I guess I don’t mind the pyjamas. What I mind are the girls who wear the pyjamas that look like they haven’t been washed in weeks (droopy butt) and rolled down so that any time they see fit to bend over or merely sit down, the world gets a good long look at their butt crack. When did plumber’s butt become fashionable? Of course, this isn’t only an airport thing, this is an everywhere thing. No wonder I can’t find a decent lengthed shirt any longer, they’re making them long so that we hopefully won’t have to see your bare bum.

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  12. Erin, I usually find myself nodding in agreement whenever I read one of your rants, but this time, I will have to respectfully disagree with some of your points. For a short flight (ie anything under 8 hours) dressing in jeans/trousers/skirts etc is perfectly doable. However, if you’re on a flight that lasts 14-18 hours, the last thing you want is to wear clothing that will constrict or that is insufficiently warm. On a long-haul flight, I usually wear a plain, long-sleeved cotton T-shirt with sweatpants (in a solid colour), black leather sneakers, and a cashmere shawl for warmth. I may not look ready to chair a meeting the minute I step off the plane, but I don’t think I look like a homeless wreck either.

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  13. Amen, Erin! It’s so easy these days to dress comfortably and still look neat and appropriate. Why resort to the sweats and PJs? When I see someone dressed that way, fair or not, I think they’re lazy and/or unintelligent. I fully recognize that that may not be true at all, but it’s my first impression nonetheless. Comfort and finesse are not mutually exclusive.

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  14. I don’t wear anything travelling that I wouldn’t wear to work (unless it’s too nice for work). But then my job is working for a disabled lady, mostly doing housework, so it would not qualify as ‘business casual’. It needs to be clean, decent, and whole, and that is pretty much it. As for shoes, I try to wear the heaviest shoes I’m bringing on the trip, because why carry them when I can wear them? Unless they are high heels, which I don’t wear when I’m carrying anything heavy./Monika

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  15. I just got off a flight, and now Im thinking over my wardrobe and hoping I would be met with approval. Comfort is usually my number one goal, but Im not so sure about the people wearing pjs – cozy yes, but I like your take on it. You never know! (And of course, dresses are possibly the best choice of travel gear – comfortable (read: no tight waists) and classy too!

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  16. Rosecampion, I can sure understand your point of view!What a great bunch of comments. In my opinion, at least!Happy Canada Day weekend, everyone.

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  17. I’ve always dressed nicely on flights because I’m a hopeless romantic. Who knows who you could meet on the plane! I want people to notice me and my clothes and stike up converstaions with me (and vise versa). I never realized this was such a hot button issue. In my line of work, I alway have to be more than presentable–not suits, but I have to look put together, stylish, and confident–even if I just see the three other people in my office. I never know when I might meet a new client, new contact, or other VIP. And frankly, I’ve never found a pair of pants that were comfortable so I’ve given them up–thanks in part to this blog. It’s been all summer and nary a pair has touched these legs, save for yoga pants at the gym. And I’ve decided to get over the Intimidating Competence thing people are mentioning. People frequently comment on the dresses I wear, and sometimes I worry about being overdressed a bit (I will rethinking wearing a dress if I help a friend move this weekend) but being overdressed in any situation–on planes, trains, or the street–will never get in the way like being underdressed will. Last time I wore grubby jeans and a sweatshirt on a plane, the stewardess mistook me for not being old enough to sit in the emergency exit row. I was 21, not 16. And yes, I will “love it when I’m 40” like she said, but it was demoralizing when I was 21.

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  18. Ah, late to the party as usual…I recently made a trans-Atlantic trip. One direction, I wore a sleeveless dress and a jacket. One direction, I wore jeans and long-sleeve T. The dress was FAR more comfortable, and I won’t being wearing jeans again on such a long flight. I will bring socks next time, though.Regarding the making a good impression/being judged by your dress issue: I like to dress up, and I like to see others dressed up, but I don’t view it as a judgement thing. To me, dressing well means making yourself your own work of art. Particularly now that I sew, I am my own canvas. So if I put on an aesthetically pleasing array of clothes/accessories, or I spend time doing my hair or my makeup, I’m doing it as a creative endeavor. I may not have a lot of artistic talents, but I do like to decorate myself.

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  19. On short flights, just for old time sakes, I wear a small hat and gloves.If Grandma could handle dressing like that while flying to Europe, surely I can manage on a one hour run. And boy do I get good service!

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  20. I wear dark stretch jeans, a jersey top, a wrap and the bulkiest pair of shoes I have with me (which is usually a flat) on planes, buses and trains. Always. I guess I don’t worry too much about offending potential husbands or business contacts with this outfit, but if I am, I’d have to guess it wouldn’t work out anyway. I try to look neat and presentable while travelling, but I don’t care what other people are wearing. I’d also like to know which airlines those of you who are hunting for upgrades take, as I haven’t been on a flight that wasn’t completely booked in years.

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  21. I have no plans for traveling by air, but I realize after reading all the posts, that I definitely need to wear a long skirt should the need ever arise. I will always set off metal detectors due to 2 knee replacements. I’d rather pull up my skirt and show off my knee scars than be yanked out of line for a strip search.Actually I think this whole post is about more than traveling by plane, it is about dressing decently whatever the occassion. Pajamas are at home clothes not something to wear to restuarants (even if it is McD’s). How a person dresses does reflect themselves greatly and people who want to dress like slobs and think no one should care, I would suspect are rebellious about lots of others things also in that they don’t want anyone telling them what to do. Just my personal opinion which I have seen in evidence in the slobs I know.

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  22. Late, but I can’t resist the travelwear theme.I have complete sympathy for the folks who want to be comfortable when they travel. Comfortable clothes are non-negotiable, in my opinion, especially for traveling, because there’s always the possibility that there will be an emergency and a need to move expeditiously.HOWEVER … why does comfort have to be torn? Or old? Or full of holes? Or stained? I’m wearing one of the most comfortable things I own right now, and I could take a plane flight right this second in an emergency, sleep all night in it, and look good tomorrow. I’m wearing an ankle-length, sleeveless, bias-cut black silk dress, which is loose enough to be comfy in the heat, but shows I have a nice shape without showing too much of it; I have my beloved low-heeled boots; I have a fitted crepe jacket with satin accents for air-conditioning; I have a black summer hat; I have a wide wool-and-sparkle scarf in black, in case: more air conditioning. It’s as comfortable as a nightgown, and looks fabulous. There doesn’t have to be a moment’s compromise for the sake of comfort. If I were actually going on a planned trip, there’d be some coordinating layers in the event, heaven forfend, of crashing someplace like the mountains. It isn’t necessary to be uncomfortable to look attractive! When did that get to be such an unshakeable, unalterable association? A dress can be much more comfortable to travel in than jeans! So can a skirt. I wouldn’t advocate wearing a micro-mini with bare legs and flipflops; that has lots of potential for disaster. But a long skirt, with an adjustable waist, will keep you covered and comfortable, allowing air to circulate if it’s hot, covering your legs if it’s cold.Especially for those of us who sew, there’s every potential and possibility for combining comfort with clothes that give a little bit of a boost because you know that they flatter you. And I’m not talking fancy; one of the most comfortable things I own is a stretch denim dress that I made specifically to wear cleaning the house. I made it a couple of years ago, and expect to wear it for the next 20 years – and mean to keep it looking as well as I can, while I wear it. I’m really not attacking the ladies who don’t want to “dress up;” I just genuinely don’t understand why, given a choice of what’s in their wardrobes, someone would pick something with holes over something without, something with stains over something without, something unflattering over something becoming. It surely is not the stains and the holes that make the garments “comfortable,” is it? Corduroy, linen, denim, silk, heavy cotton knits, blends; you don’t have to be uncomfortable one minute while traveling, just because you wear a flattering top in a colour you love, and a skirt with pockets – or a nice tunic top and soft drawstring pants that are not pajamas. How is that hard? What am I not getting?

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  23. I really like to see people dressed outlandishly and/or utterly inappropriately on the plane. They’re, you know, challenging the dominant paradigm. One, air travel, or the actual travel part itself, is so utterly bland and excruciatingly boring. Two, “business casual”: Oy, how conventional can you get?

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  24. I don’t generally wear a skirt or dress on a plane – most of my flying these days is long distance (think 24 hours – that’s how long it takes to get to Australia with lay-overs on the way). I usually dress in khaki pants, a button-down shirt, and either a blazer or wool cardigan. I’m usually met by my parents at the other end, and want to look presentable.I fear that if I wore a dress or skirt, I would get terribly creased when I try to sleep on the plane (sometimes, I’m fortunate enough to get 3 or 4 seats to myself, and can lay down – I can’t afford business or first class).I wear loafers, and try to avoid taking my shoes off during the flight (although the airlines do provide you with those flight socks; my concern is with my feet swelling up during the flight, as happened once when I flew to Australia while I was 7 months pregnant.)

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  25. Those of you who think I am advocating boring business casual haven’t been reading this blog too long … I have worn this skirt on an airplane. I got extra peanuts, too. I just want you to try to look close to (not at) your best (I know travel can be demoralizing). When you look good, you feel good, right?And, Bella, you always hit the nail on the head, and say things better than I do! (And I want the pattern for that dress please … sounds great. Does it have pockets?)Thank you for all the comments, though — there’s a lot here I hadn’t thought of, and I appreciate hearing what folks think (even if what they think is that I’m off my nut).

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  26. I myself like to wear ratty clothes onto airplanes not out of laziness, or for the sake of comfort, but rather as a silent protest against the air travel industry. If there is any situation the calls for a hostile all-out textile assault, it is being herded on and off cramped airbuses, being offered a $5 box of chocolate bars in lieu of a meal on a cross-country dinnertime flight, forced to endure the vocalizations of inconsolable infants, and then delayed in Phoenix (surrounded by said infants) for much longer than is morally acceptable. If anything, I wish I could travel with full-on punk regalia: spiked hair, piercings, and offensive t-shirt, possibly unwashed. Or perhaps naked. I hate the airlines and I like them to know it.And I wear flip-flops because security takes an unusual interest in every other pair I own (knives in the toes? Explosive-stuffed heels?) resulting in further delays in Phoenix.Always Phoenix, for some reason.

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  27. Kate, I had the same thing happen to me…but I’m 32! And was dressed as I always do, in a cute skirt and top. I didn’t even pay attention to whomever the flight attendant was asking the age of, because surely it wasn’t me. But indeed she was verifying that I was old enough to sit in the exit row. Oddly, I was flying after a speaking engagement at which a fellow speaker asked me if my kids were already in college (again, I’m 32, and I have no kids).I never look sloppy anywhere at any time. That is not how I present myself. I consider what I am wearing any time I put on clothing, and that definitely includes travel. I too long for the days when travel used to be an occasion to dress up. There are so few occasions nowadays for looking your very best.

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  28. Erin, which one do you want? The black bias silk sleep dress, or the denim house dress?The current incarnation of the denim dress doesn’t have pockets, because my mind was somewhere else at the time. I’m going to put them in, however – and I’m going to put them in the next iteration, too. It’s a princess dress with extra-narrow straps and a scoop neck (just the thing to show off a pearl necklace!), and a very full skirt, nearly ankle length. It, too, is comfy enough to sleep in. If I want, I can wear a T-shirt under it, or a blouse, or a sweater; if it’s warm, I can just wear it over my bra, which it covers completely. And I have the comfort of knowing that even if I’m doing something that’s really not a lot of fun, at least I look nice. 🙂 – with the full understanding that it is, in fact, meant to be worked in, and if I spill bleach on myself, well, oopsie. It’s not a problem, since that’s what it was designed for!

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  29. Er, Erin, for the record, I never thought you were advocating business casual. For the record! But somehow it (specifically) was becoming batted about. So I commented on it.

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  30. If we were to pass each other on the street two days in a row you might think you were looking at a different person. One day I might have a modest skirt and top in solid tones, and the next day I might be wearing a chaotically patterned and tattered outfit that would require minutes to take in entirely. The one thing that never changes is the 4g segment ring in my septum. Yes, I can fit fit a chopstick through there. I’m sure I’d offend you, but upon opening my mouth assumptions usually change. I am 19 years old and will be entering my senior year in college next fall and love nothing more than knocking the socks off of older (business) men/women with a rollicking conversation about Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, the evolution of the bustle, or even Vogue magazine. I know I am young, and nowhere close to trading in my eclectic daily wardrobe for business attire, but I don’t forsee myself ever losing sleep over the fact that I might not be making a good first impression. Like you said yourself, even perfect attire can be ruined by a snarky attitude, however, clothes are not the only thing that speak for me and if an exposed bra strap or a hole in my shirt keeps you from having a stimulating conversation with a young person then that’s your loss not mine. I’ll save my wit for anyone that’s intrigued.As a student that has only traveled the few times I have been able to afford it, I must admit that the condition of my fellow passengers rarely crosses my mind. As long as they are not offending senses that can be easily distracted or redirected, such as smell and hearing to a certain degree, I am alright. I hope this doesn’t come across as an attack, because I don’t mean it to be, and I don’t believe you are closed-minded. It just seems that by wishing for such a homogeneous society you are selling yourself short. To assume that everyone needs dress to please not only themselves but others just scares me. Part of the beauty, and the horror, of this world is that we have a multifarious array of people all trying to accomplish something. That doesn’t always require a “professional” look, I know plenty of people who have accomplished amazing feats caked in coal dust and week old clothes. I was approached and photographed by a woman working for GQ in an outfit most of your readers would deem unfit for plane travel. If I am an ignorant American for thinking that holey jeans are ok for an airplane then I apologize, but that doesn’t make me any less of a good or intelligent person. The day everyone is dressed the same, or thinks the same, will never come. At least I hope not. We can agree to disagree, but it seems judgemental to believe that everyone should live up to the standards of a very limited portion of society. You can have your smart business casual, but I still prefer my jeans and my dirty frye boots, and I hope to have the courage to defy the belief that I must look a certain way to be successful. I think I’ve done pretty damn well thus far.

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  31. I think air travel has relaxed a lot simply because it isn’t an “occasion” like it used to be. So many more flights – business, personal, etc.! And comfort is key, especially in coach, where legroom is a foreign concept. However, comfy doesn’t have to mean ratty, stained, or loungewear. It’s not about everyone dressing the same or “business casual”, but with respect for your fellow man/woman who will have to sit next to you for 4-14 hours. If everyone dresses schlumpy, then people start feeling schlumpy, and it just heads downhill…Maybe I should wear gloves and a little hat on my next plane trip for fun. 🙂

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  32. As a flight attendant for 18 years I agree with you 100%. I never knew what the next flight would bring. People never cease to amaze me.

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  33. Erin, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and really loved this post. For the last 5 years I’ve been living in Paris, which is an incredibly dense, noisy, often dirty city (a bit like a crowded airplane). What keeps the city from feeling totally chaotic and overwhelming are the underlying rules of social behavior that cement French culture, particularly concerning how one behaves in public: e.g., not talking too loud (something which Americans like me are often frowned upon for doing), teaching manners to children (imagine that!), and also dressing appropriately. Now i am NOT saying here that French people are perfect, or “better” than Americans. I am simply saying that we could take a clue from older, more established cultures (like France, Italy, or Spain) on how to behave in a public space. I have to say I was appalled at the anonymous toddler mom’s comment on this blog: “I would no sooner dress up for an airplane ride than I would for a road trip in my own personal car.” This idea of the American nuclear family traveling about in its own little bubble, uncaring and oblivious to the world around them, is insular and selfish, to say the least. Just because you have a child doesn’t mean you are not part of a larger society. And just because you are a “mom” doesn’t mean that you are invisible to other people around you. What message about the world and life is that toddler getting from such an attitude?

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  34. la belladonna, I really appreciate your post up there.And Anonymous 11:50, I love yours!And Erin, thanks for creating the space for this discussion … and all the other discussions you’ve launched, too!

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  35. Late to comment, but I love the topic.I’m another Aussie, and I have to say that on 24+ hour flights it is generally neccesary to change during the flight (which makes sense really, considering you wouldn’t go that long without changing on the ground).BUT! I’m hopelessly in love with flying, so I usually plan out my outfit.On a really long flight I usually wear smart dress pants and a comfortable top, nice wrap scarf and ballet flats (for ease through security). Wearing trousers is also a good way to hide ugly anti-dvt compression socks. Take a nice jacket/coat and surrender it to a flight attendant. Then I’ll generally get changed into a long sleeved t-shirt for the flight, then into another outfit (often a skirt) to land. As I travel up the pointy-end quite frequently for work, I think that dressing nicely helps me get taken seriously, as I’m a bit younger than the average business/first flyer. But I’m always astounded by what other passengers choose to wear.And it has other advantages. I once met an actor I’ve always admired on a BA flight from London to Dallas and I’m glad I was presentable. We didn’t have a fabulous affair, but he did share his newspaper with me.

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  36. I loved this post! I travel a lot and am horrified by some of the outfits I see. Do some of these people not have full length mirrors at home!? My outfit of choice is a roomy prairie skirt. That way I can tuck my legs up under me, look not too dressy, and be comfortable all at the same time. I got a good laugh at the flip-flops. That’s what my daughter wore on the last trip and she was down on the floor under the seats looking for the lost flip-flop!

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  37. Anonymous-with-the-septum-ring, what about either my post or Erin’s gave you the impression that we were advocating “business casual” for travel? It is a category of garment that neither she nor I own, to my knowledge (well, I know I don’t, and I’m pretty sure Erin’s wardrobe doesn’t fall into that category). Erin’s style could probably best be described as 1950’s on acid, and mine as Formal Goth. Or even Highly Formal Goth (with modifications for Business and At-Home). We don’t want to see the world in Khakis and Polo Shirts (apologies to those who really, really, really love such things – it’s OK if you wear them!). Suggesting that clothes without holes can be as comfortable as those with, that clothes without stains can be as comfortable as those with, that colours that are flattering can be had and a fit that really does fit means that it’s not uncomfortable – that’s what we’re suggesting. We’re not suggesting the colours, the cuts, or the garments themselves. I’m still puzzled at the defensiveness on some parts, as if it was, in fact, what we were attempting to do. I’m a reasonable being (fairly often), and pretty intelligent: tell me what makes something dirty, stained, torn or unflattering more comfortable, so that I can understand. I don’t give a darn about tattoos, piercings or hair colourings, or stylized hair, especially on the young, who are at an age when they’re supposed to be experimenting. Dirt, though, is harder to understand (and I’m not talking about the normal 27-hours-and-more of traveling), and a deliberate choice of less flattering over more flattering (which is not at all the same as revealing, which is fine too if that’s what you like) is equally hard to understand.

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  38. Thank you, Stacy. Whenever I fly, all I want is to be comfortable, if I have to wear pjs to be comfortable, then I don’t care. Anyone who doesn’t want to talk to me on a plane because I’m wearing sweats or pjs isn’t worth meeting.

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  39. La BellaDonna, I believe that the thing Erin said that caused Anonymous-with-the-septum-ring to assume she was advocating business casual was, “Me, I won’t get on a plane in anything less than I would wear to a business-casual meeting.”I personally find the tone of this post and the comments (for the most part) to be snobbish and rude. “Then, of course, it’s always rude to comment on peoples’ clothing, unless you are complimenting them (or telling them a slip is showing, etc.).”

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  40. Just thought I’d point out the discrepency between this particular post and the lovely post you did on how we don’t “owe pretty to anyone.”http://www.dressaday.com/2006/10/you-dont-have-to-be-pretty.html

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  41. Sneakers or high heels? Seemes to me that is going from one extreem to another. You can’t lump all high heels in the same sentence. A high heel can be 3 inches or 5 inches. A short skirt and a pr. of 3 inch heels lookes very sheek and if you are one of those who dislike high heels of any king then you should wake up and realize what you are misssing. After all Airline attendants wear very high heels at times although they switch to flats when serving meals.

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  42. Here’s my position:I’m 25 years old and I’m tired of dressing like a bum.And by bum I mean cotton shirts and carpernter pants. I’ve decided to change to a more sophisticated style. So I went to the mall yesterday, and wondered through the petite section and tried on name brands like Lauren, by Ralph Lauren, and blah blah blah. The smallest size I could find was 2P. 2p is too big on me! Someone please tell me where I can buy some nice “dress” pants. I need size 0.Although I wish to upgrade my style, I have to say, someone please give me some evidence that you’ll run into a person that can change your life on an airplane.I’m a math and physics major. I’m married. I have a three year old son. Please tell me who I could possibly run into on an airplane that would change my life.I’m not trying to be an actress or a model. I don’t have a reason to get anyone to become a “client” of mine. Who would I possibly need to impress?For the sake of argument, someone please tell me about their magical experience on an airplane where they meet someone fantastic and it happened to change their life damatically.Otherwise, you people are simply just bitching that not everyone has the same taste as you. Don’t you know that having holes in your clothes and looking like a bum was actually the “in” thing a few years back? In fact, you could walk into a department store and find jeans with holes already in them. You could buy jeans with paint already splattered on them. It was a horrible fad that I never bought into, but the point is, some people did like it, and they bought it. Why people like what they like isn’t up for argument, and they don’t need to justify themselves; as horrible as their tastes may be.In fact, if only my taste mattered, country music would be banned; There aren’t enough good country songs to make up for all of the whiny ones. Rap music would be banned; There aren’t enough good rap songs to make up for all the offensive ones.Old cars would be allowed only in the city dumb; I can’t stand looking at anything older than 1999. Most of the houses in my neighboor hood would have to be demolished because I can’t stand the outdated color schemes they are currently painted. If you want to dress in pajamas on an airplane, then dress in pajamas on an airplane and don’t dress up in nice business attire. Why would you want to attract a person who doesn’t agree with your life style?If your a guy, and you dress like you have money, then you will attract a girl that thinks you have money, which is okay if you do, and just trouble if you don’t. She’ll want to spend your money either way.You should dress yourself in the type of clothes that the people you want to attract would wear.If you want to attract people with money, look like you have some yourself.If you want to attract a bum, you should look like a bum yourself.If you want to attract a rock star, you should look like a rock star.If you want to attract a business man, you should look like a business woman.If you want to attract a college student, look like a college student.You should only be as attractive as the kind of people you want to attact.People shouldn’t be required to wear items that misrepresent their life style.Being able to read someone by what they are wearing is a good thing, not a bad thing. It can help you decide who to stay away from. So be greatful that you didn’t waste time with the person in pajamas or the guy with oil on his hands because you could see that lifestyle doesn’t fit in with yours. Otherwise, you may have been tempted to stike up a conversation with the car mechanic dressed in Gucci. You may have mistook the trash guy for a potential business client.And the guy in pajamas can be thankful that the girl with the prada purse didn’t wear pajamas. The guy in pajamas may have mistook the prada snob for a nice simple human being, and he would have wasted his time.Of course, there is always the possibility of reading someone wrong. If you are a nice human being, you’ll talk with anyone regardless of what they are wearing. If you are a smart, nice human being , you’ll talk with anyone you think will fit in with your life style, and ignore everyone else, while appreciating that everyone else wore clothes that represented their life style so you could avoid them.

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  43. I agree with you Erin. And you know what? It’s good that there are people who still disagree, because that means less competition for the rest of us who DO care about making a great impression and opening more doors of opportunity. I used to wear flip flops, but now I find them gross. I would rather wear a beautiful pair of leather sandals (dressy or nice casual) than plastic/pvc/rubber thong flip flops. Also, some people have such ugly feet and toes, that it should be a crime for them to wear them!! Ugh. The only really casual sandal I think that looks okay are the Adidas slide sandals (on guys and girls). I do think Tevas can look fun with some chino shorts and collared button shirt instead of ratty clothing.Personally, it always feels better to dress better and ultimately, look better…anywhere I go.

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  44. you guys are all completely ridiculous. this isn’t the 1950s. maybe i’ll start dressing up when i get to take a shuttle to the moon!

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  45. I most often fly in a nice pair of jeans, a plain-colored tshirt or long-sleeve, and a cardigan sweater (as we all know airplanes are cold!). For shoes, I gave up flip-flops because my feet froze, and have started wearing Kate Spade rubber rain shoes. (Go ahead and laugh, but they are cute and very comfy!) When I flew home to Alaska last December, I wore my Dansko clogs, which were more appropriate for the landing weather.I don’t do wrinkle-prone fabrics or anything I can’t run in comfortably.If on the very slim chance I was flying first-class, I would most definitely trade the jeans and rubber shoes for trousers and loafers.I think above all you should be comfortable, prepared for an emergency (although I have yet to read about an incident where someone’s spike heel punched a hole in the inflatable slide!), and expressing your own personal style.

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  46. Maybe they’re going for comfort. When I was younger my mother used to always tell us to wear something “comfortable” when we traveled. She made sure we wore sweatpants, t-shirts, and sneakers. NOW I’m always on the plane in a cute dress, heels, and bag. Hey that’s what makes me comfortable, knowing that I look good because you never know!

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  47. Well, now I’m self-conscious about my jeans and hoodie! Honestly, as a high school student flying from Chicago to Rome in a few days, my first priority is feeling comfortable on the long flight, and my second is looking presentable. I think that if someone thinks I’m sloppy for wearing what I would wear to school on the plane (jeans, tank top and hooded sweatshirt), I don’t really want to get to know them. That said, I never go out in public in sweats, pajamas, or yoga pants. That’s just lazy.

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