As an Insurance Agent who has been in the industry for any length of time, I have seen trends come and go; one that recently caught my attention was how significantly “dress” has changed for those who travel! Apparently, there was a recently incident involving a JetBlue passenger whose clothing was too scant for the liking of the gate agent! Although the issue was resolved with the passenger purchasing pajamas, for which she was reimbursed, and a $200 credit toward her ticket provided, the situation certainly poses the question of whether our travel attire – or perhaps lack thereof – has gotten out of control!
So… I just had to do a look back to a time when it was a part of traveling – getting to purchase the clothing appropriate for the occasion. I looked at the 1950’s because I was sure there was a distinct variance, but thought it best to begin in the 1960’s – a period of time in which I actually experienced travel fashion. No sweatpants or leggings worn as pants; suits and hats brought a certain touch of class and civility to a journey.
Fast forward to the 1970’s and although we had some crazy bell-bottoms and shorter skirts adorned flight staff, it appears the standard dress for travelers was still the smart, black tie attire. “Casual” trended mightily during the 1908’s; power suits, shoulder pads, and double-breasted blazers were out; high-waisted, acid-wash jeans more the norm.
We also lost the tiny, pre-wrapped soaps, bad airplane food has been replaced with little to no food on most flights, pillows and blankets were in vast supply and luggage were not a separate, exorbitant charge! Over-sized luggage was not considered, and Tylenol dispensed by short-skirted attendants was not a litigious act; you could pack whatever you wanted, liquids sloshed around at will, and the little plastic aviator wings were cherished! But lest I digress… we were on the topic of travel attire!
The 1990’s brought about a resurgence of class… according to books of the time, “Global Business Etiquette: A Guide To International Communication And Customs” by Jeanette S. Martin and Lillian H. Chaney,” and “International Business Etiquette: Europe,” by Ann Sabath, the importance of chick clothing and makeup, tailored look with minimal accessories were the new norm for women travelers.
TravelSmith was a company that changed the face of women’s travel clothing… providing lightweight, packable and wrinkle-resistant, as great options for a cruise or safari, or simply for everyday comfort. A far cry from the shapeless garments we see today, travelers shopped for wrinkle-free, indispensable & reversible travel dresses, stylish tunic tops, lightweight sweaters, wraps, vests, pant sets, waterproof rain gear, and a robust selection of pants, shorts, skirts and swimwear, comfortable intimates and sleepwear, shoes and other accessories designed for travel. Function won out!
Today… I truly believe “comfort” takes the front as we see wide-leg jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts and footwear that assuages the fuss and fury of going through security! Are we teetering on the edge of public indecency with scant clothing? Do companies like JetBlue have not only the right but the responsibility to rely on their written contractual language relative to “Refusal to Transport” to include “Refusal or removal [of a passenger] may be necessary… fo a person… whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive?” Aside from the “look” of travel attire, which may always test us, editor, David Jeffreys, brings up a great question of the safety of short shorts and what he called, “peek-a-boo glutes.” His contention is the morality issue is a far cry from the lack of safety in wearing bedroom slippers and flip flops that might not allow for quick, safe exit from a plane, or the slick, shiny fabrics used to construct sports ware that is known to quickly melt in a fire… all reasons to resort to prudent thinking, if not social acceptability, when choosing comfort, protection and far less potential to offend!
Myself? Well, I have to say, “There is just something to be said about a woman who “dresses to the nines” for travel!” It speaks of elegance, being evolved, and maybe even “respecting the glamour” of travel. This standard would only call for putting in a little effort, especially since first impressions DO count, and whether it is a fellow passenger who might be impressed enough to follow up with a business potential – or, heaven forbid – you should have to wear what you have on once you arrive at your final destination. There has to be a middle ground between looking good, and easily getting through security, managing the distance between gates, and being comfortable on long flights. We just have to rethink of the gap between pajamas and formal wear!
But, if your clothes prevent you from getting past security swiftly, booking it to your gate, or sitting comfortably for long, extended flights… well, then, you’ve just got to rethink!