Airport Fashion Do's and Don'ts
Everyone has their airport routines – the normal things you wear and do every time you fly. I’m a consultant, so I fly more than most (pretty much every Monday and Thursday). This has given me the opportunity to try out different things and fine-tune my routine more than most, not to mention observing others along the way. I am a people watcher and I frequently position myself to get the best possible views of traffic flowing through the terminal – call it a hobby.
Over the past year I have frequented some of the busiest airports in the US (ATL, LGA, DFW) dozens of times, which have given me plenty of material for this post.
Before I get started, let me make a disclaimer. I am by no means an expert on fashion, and I am not trying to be OVERLY judgmental (see my last blog entry on tattoos for some background on how my words can be blown out of proportion or taken the wrong way). The purpose of this post is to be entertaining and somewhat informative, from the point of view of just another guy. So chill out, don’t take things so seriously, and leave a comment. And if you see some interesting fashion in the airport that you would like to share with us all, link it in your comment or contact us and we might have a follow-up blog about it.
What to carry
Since I fly all the time, I chose luggage that is neutrally colored, moderately priced and very durable. I’ve had my luggage for a year and a half, and I will probably have to replace my roller board after only 3 or so years of use. Why splurge?
Some people make fashion statements with their luggage. Despite how nice it looks, I still shake my head when I see people dragging matching Louis Vuitton bags, totaling the worth of many people’s monthly income. I mean, have you seen how the baggage handlers treat bags? They’re not nicknamed ‘throwers’ for nothing. If you don’t fly very much, why waste so much? If you fly a lot, your nice bag is going to get torn up. It just doesn’t seem practical to me.
As far as carry-ons go, I’ve never understood the transition from traditional computer bags and satchels to backpacks. I see a lot of businessmen in professional attire and sometimes full suits, walking through the airport with a backpack. I realize these are upgraded from the backpacks you’re used to seeing back in school, but a backpack is a backpack. Yes it’s more comfortable, but I’m sorry, it looks juvenile. Check out Tumi for some stylish and functional alternatives.
Also, ladies: you get two carry-ons. Not your purse, your overnight bag, your shopping bag of items too delicate to pack, and your roller board suitcase. Do us all a favor when we’re behind you in the security line and when we’re boarding and consolidate your bags. They won’t let you board with more than two carry-ons. And to the lady that carried on a huge industrial kitchen faucet covered in bubble wrap a few weeks ago, let’s go ahead and FedEx that to your final destination, K?When comfort borders ridiculousness
Have you ever seen those U-shaped pillows that people carry around the terminal? I don’t care how sleepy I am, I will never use one. I don’t care if I’m nodding off and in the most uncomfortable state of almost sleep, it will never, ever happen. Not only are they bulky to carry around, they just look plain silly. Yes, I know they make some that are inflatable, which can help you disguise your lack of dignity to your fellow passenger. Regardless, unless I’ve just been in a car accident or received some other traumatic injury, I’ll never wear anything of the like.
Another trend I have seen recently is the prevalence of surgical masks. The mass pandemic known as swine flu has gotten to some people more than others. Do me a favor, Mr. Hypochondriac. Visit this website to see if you have swine flu, then worry about a mask after you’re done freaking out.
Speaking of ridiculous, Crocs are never a good idea, no matter where you are. I don’t care how comfortable they are. While I am not the biggest fan of Brüno’s movie, I have to agree with him on his view on Crocs: “Never wear anything you can buy at an airport.” Not only that, a few kids have been injured on airport escalators when wearing the shoes.
This leads my directly into other recommendations for your feet. What you walk around on is very important when you fly, not only for comfort (and style of course, especially for you ladies), but also to get you through the TSA security line as fast as possible.
I used my sleuthing skills to snap a picture of this guy was wearing sandals with a suit on one of my flights. If you’ve got the time to change from shoes to sandals, how about changing the rest of the outfit? You look like an idiot.
I sometimes envy people that can wear sweats and hoodies through the airport. You’ll find me in the consultant’s ‘uniform’, wearing slacks and a button down shirt. I’m either flying to or from work, so I have to keep it business casual. I like Banana Republic and J. Crew’s lines of wrinkle-free shirts and comortable flat-front slacks. When I’m traveling for leisure (which doesn’t happen as often as I would like considering the amount of frequent flyer miles I accumulate every week), you’ll find me in a broken in pair of jeans, casual shoes and a t-shirt. It doesn’t look like I’m going to a slumber party, yet I still feel relaxed.
There are some clothes that you shouldn’t wear no matter how comfortable they are. This is a public service announcement to those people that feel it necessary to wear clothes from their vacation destination. You are not there anymore. No one cares that you were there. Are you really going to wear that Spring Break 2009 shirt a month from now? This especially goes out to the guys in the Hawaiian shirts. It is only acceptable to wear Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii (and you must be older than 50). You will (hopefully) not wear them in your day-to-day life (except at a theme party), so let’s go ahead and prepare that pineapple shirt for the back hanger in the closet by folding it away in your suitcase.
I consider Bluetooth headset wearers right up there with my disdain for the types of people that appreciate the ‘stylings’ of Ed Hardy and boots with fur in temperate climates. Yes, you are an important and busy businessman, I get it. You’re making that very clear to us all. But is it too much to ask to take the Bluetooth out of your ear for the two hour plane ride? Unless you didn’t follow Deltalina’s instructions, you’re not going to get any calls. I don’t understand why people leave those things in their ear all day long. If you’re on a two hour phone conversation, yes, it makes sense. But why leave it there when it’s not in use the other 95% of your day. Imagine if I planned to swim some laps in the pool after work, but I decided to wear my goggles around the office all day. Sounds pretty dumb, doesn’t it?
Another thing… I think it goes without saying that you should make sure your personal hygiene is up to par before you fly. The following story is completely true. A few months ago I could distinctly smell the pungent odor of a man the spots ahead of me in the TSA line. When he made it through the metal detector, collected his bags and left, the scent lingered as if it were cologne. A TSA agent started spraying disinfectant in the air to try to dissipate the smell as she complained and assured me that it was not her who caused such a stink. To my horror, there he sat when I arrived at my gate. Luckily, the story ends there as our seats were 20+ rows apart. I feel sorry for those sitting within a 3 row radius though, because it was a stomach turning smell. I know everyone has their issues, but clean up a bit before you leave for everyone’s sake.
Crying kids on airplanes also really get to me. I know this is not related to the general subject of this blog, but I’m going to include it here anyway as a final gripe. Every time I’ve seen a kid throwing a temper tantrum on a plane, the situation is always ameliorated when the flight attendant comes over to give the kid a cookie. Presto, problem solved. Parents, let your kids have their way on whatever it is they’re crying about while they’re on the plane. Lose the battle, win the war in the privacy of your home. Also, carry airplane cookies wherever you go, because they will make your child stop crying. You’ll be doing the rest of us a favor.
I hope this post has been somewhat informative and hopefully entertaining. I’d like to leave you with a few pictures that I couldn’t work into the writing, but I don’t feel like I could leave them out either.