Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pretense on the plane

(NOTE: This might be a first. I wrote and published the blog below before noticing that the article I'm writing about was from 2014. So I double-checked and found I had written a blog about this same article when it was new. And that blog was as good, if not better, than this one. This duplicity happens pretty often, but usually I notice before I make the effort to write up a blog. I blame social media, because Slate reshared this article during a week in which I was traveling. Many blogs on which I'm currently working are old things I'm finding that way. That's probably worth an entry of its own. Anyway, here it is.)

Slate: Stop dressing like a slob when you're traveling

This article contains the following line:

Now, before I’m accused of elitism ...

So you know it's good.

J. Bryan Lowder isn't necessarily wrong in a basic sense. You should try to look right for whatever situation you're in. But like with most situations, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for travel. Much depends on where you're going, how you're getting there, how long it takes, your chosen look and comfort zone, whether you overslept your alarm, etc.

When I flew this past Monday, and I wore a black collared polo shirt, a brand-new pair of subtly patterned khaki-ish shorts and newish, clean white athletic shoes. It was a solid balance of respectability, function (long walks at DFW) and awareness of my destination (Louisiana in August). I wasn't going to impress in the boardroom I wasn't going to, but neither was I setting off any just-fell-out-of-the-dorm-bed alarms. From my perspective, my dress fulfills his wishes: I'm happy, geared up for my destination/itinerary and look (and feel) good. Also — and this is a big one — I try to be nice to people in any case.

But I wonder if Lowder would look at me and think I'm part of the problem. Because he has higher (or at least dressier) standards than I do. Everyone has different ideas of what proper dress constitutes (and a person's parameters can shift over time), and someone with a business-traveler mentality has a long look down. 

For the most part, people have reasons for looking the way they do when they travel, whether that reason is, "This is how I feel I look best" or, "I rushed to make this flight at all costs." This is why I don't judge anyone. 

Not for that, anyway. The only fashion statement I'll criticize is pretense.

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