flying high and the new business casual...

IMG_1606 Airports.

I've read quite a few articles on packing and what to wear when travelling, but most of them are geared towards men. And most of the tips I've read for women are either completely offensive, culturally stigmatizing, or stupid.  I'm not going to wear heels to an airport, nor head-to-toe Lululemon. And I most definitely don't want to look like I am going on a safari, which is basically what wearing anything labeled 'travel wear' makes you look like (safari-themed is a totally different animal, and I am 100% into that some days). But that leaves a lot of in between.

I'm about to go on some short trips to Los Angeles, one for business, one for pleasure, and I need to pack. The first thing I have to get in order is my underwear as I am the kind of person that does not do any laundry until I have none left. The second thing I need to do is pick out the one or two pairs of shoes that make the most sense for the trip. I just bought this awesome hat, so maybe I'll start with the hat. Basically, I try to start with some limiting factors, or else I get overwhelmed, which in the past has gotten me into big trouble. The "I'll just see what I feel like in the morning" attitude has made me late to flights and stuck paying major over-weight fees (the worst episode was flying out of Heathrow half asleep at which point I simply had to hand over my credit card and hope that the mega-pounds I was paying would be worth it -- I was moving internationally so I had an excuse, but still, stupid).

So the actual clothes...this 'silicon valley' themed travel tips article in the NY Times Style section last summer, while rather dull, had me thinking about the connection between startup attire and airport attire.

I've realized I approach airport attire with a 'new' business casual mindset. I work at a startup, so I don't really understand dress codes nor have actually ever worn 'business casual' (except this one awful summer I worked at Kohl's when I was maybe 17 -- let me just say I still cannot look at a pair of Junior black dress slacks and not throw up). An equally ghastly sight: google 'business casual' and then click 'images'.

My definition of 'new business casual' is stuff I actually wear to work, especially when I want to look like a grown up, have fabric vendors coming in, or just feel like it. The negative affect of new business casual at a startup - my co-workers probably think I am going to an interview that day. Good! Keeps them on their toes.

I briefly worked for a dj/photographer couple and when I asked the wife (often described as queen of 'hipster chic') what I should wear to work she said something like 'dress to impress because you never know who you are going to meet'. I totally agree, just with one edit - dressing to impress yourself, meaning looking good however you think that is that day. Yet, when it comes to airport attire, it's more like dress to impress a stranger that may turn out to be your new best friend who wants to take you on an adventure on his or her private jet. Or at least invite you up to first class. And you have to decide ahead of time what that is, because what you wear on the airplane needs to be incorporated into your trip's wardrobe, or else you are totally over packing.

There should never be any rules and it should always feel right - physically and mentally. I tend to steer clear of wovens and leggings--too much constriction at high altitudes is not good. I like maxi skirts, maxi dresses, slouchy printed high waisted pants with crop tops and a (preferably knit) blazer. I generally wear my favorite black riding boots with nice socks. I often wear a black leather jacket, but this depends on the rest of my trip's wardrobe, which is ultimately determined by the function of the trip and my mood, and of course where I am going. Same thing with colors - I try to pick a simple color palette, but it is always anchored with the jacket/shoe/hat. So if I am anchoring black, I'll just pick one or two bright/patterned/loud pieces and then keep the rest rather monochromatic. I always plan my outings because if I'm going to the beach or on a hike or to a museum I need to have something to wear that doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. Most of my outfits are very versatile, but knowing ahead of time you are going to a black-tie event is helpful. On the other hand, I always try to under pack because I like to shop whenever I travel, which enables me to buy that thing that I don't have for that event I didn't plan. I try to start packing a few days before and then everyday I take something away. Layers, always, and I often pack an extra pair of bottoms if I am checking in my bag.

What do you wear when you travel?

Do you like to dress up or dress down? What does that mean?

Are you kind of grossed out by all the other people at the airport and what they are wearing?

Do you still buy a pretzel (or other gross airport food) and then watch them with greasy hands and think how lucky you are that you are not overweight and wearing safari-attire?