January 23, 2007

On the Runway and Ready for Takeoff

Print More

Traveling in style does not necessarily mean that you are seated in first class. Sitting in JFK Airport as my flight to London was repeatedly delayed, I observed every type of travel outfit.
Inevitably, some people get dressed up for a flight, as if they’re going clubbing. From knee-high leather stiletto boots to a massive fur coat and a transparently fake Louis Vuitton duffle bag, these travelers don’t seem to be prepared to sit in one seat and let their feet swell during a trans-Atlantic flight. The layers of thick makeup probably aren’t practical after an overnight journey without a face wash or reapplication of makeup. These passengers seem to have something to prove to all of the other passengers on their plane when really all that they prove is that they know how to dress impractically and wear far too much perfume.
On the other hand, there are also those who put on their ancient elastic-ankle sweatpants and stained white sneakers as a last bastion towards just wearing their pajamas. These people take the opposite stance of the passengers who seem to be dressed for a night out on the town. They assume that a seven-hour flight will be so awful and uncomfortable that they need to wear their oldest, softest, most worn and stretched apparel that they own. Yet, they don’t consider that even on a plane, appearances do matter. It is never a good idea to wait in a customs line looking like a hobo who has just jumped a railcar.
Passengers should, instead, take the middle ground. Style and comfort are both as essential for travel as they are for everyday life. One does not have to sacrifice comfort for style or style for comfort.
Comfortable shoes that you can walk far distances in or wait in long lines with are essential. They should also be easy to get on and off at security check points and while on the plane. In addition, your general outfit should be reasonably comfortable. Tight skinny jeans, high heels, push-up bras that are a size too small and belly shirts are not ideal for long-term travel.
Wearing multiple layers of clothing can also be beneficial. Pulling luggage that weighs more than you do will probably make you break a sweat. Therefore, make sure that you are wearing garments like a t-shirt so that you can remove a sweater or sweatshirt. Also, when the plane gets cold mid-flight, you will be able to re-layer your outfit with additional clothing, such as a sweatshirt, jacket, scarf or extra socks.
Duffle bags and old fashioned rolling bags are inefficient for travel, especially when you have to carry or pull them yourself. Newer rolling bags have light frames and can be pulled upright to reduce the strain on your back, especially when sprinting from Gate A1 to G33 on a nine-minute layover. In addition, they come in a wide variety of colors, patterns and styles so that your bag can stand out from the masses of black bags that continually rotate around the luggage conveyor belt.
Passengers should also remember that they have to go through security, customs, luggage claim and other locations where they may be judged based on what they are wearing. Customs officials will always be suspicious of anyone too well or poorly clothed. So the next time you return from Paris decked out in couture or from Amsterdam wearing purely hemp clothing, remember that the customs officials can, and will, search your bags.