Monday, October 3, 2016

Dress Code


I read on social media last week that a woman was barred from boarding a plane because she was wearing inappropriate clothing. She was a burlesque dancer and was wearing such short shorts that they looked like underwear. Anyway she was sent to change before she was allowed to board. And now there is a big fuss about it--her rights have been violated. She is free to choose what she wants to wear, etc.

Frankly I have been horrified for years about what people now wear on planes. Shorts, low cut tank tops, flip-flops, anything goes. (Not to mention the dog who sat on the seat next to my husband last week) So how does an airline draw the line? Too much flesh in contact with a seat? Too much boob exposed? My husband was with an airline for years. When we flew there was a strict dress code. We had to dress as if for a business meeting. Men in suits, ladies in suit, dress or smart pant suit. I was once almost denied boarding because I was wearing a light blue pant suit, nicely tailored, and the gate employee claimed wrongly it was denim. It took the station manager to let me pass.

And our children had to be dressed as if going to church. Of course we were usually put in First Class and we were in a way representing the airline so the code was necessary. Frankly I liked it. It made me feel that we were doing something special, that it was a big occasion. Alas dressing up for anything now has gone the way of the dodo. Even in first class you'll find the shorts and sweats and flip flops. And you certainly can't blame people trying to squeeze into those few inches of economy from wanting to dress in something comfortable.

I still dress smartly when I travel. It used to get me upgraded quite regularly across the Atlantic. Not any more. And I still dress smartly for the theater and opera. It annoys me to have paid a lot for my opera seat only to find the folks in the next seats are in jeans and sweat shirts. What's wrong with the world? Why does no one have pride in appearance any more? Why don't they want to make occasions special? The only exceptions are cruises on premium cruise lines where long evening gowns and black tie are the norm,  the old fashioned London clubs (my husband is a member of one) where blazers or suits are required in the dining room and the opera at Palm Beach Florida where every lady was dressed to the nines, dripping in jewels. (And it was an occasion on which I hadn't brought a long skirt!)

Oh, and the other occasion: when I take my granddaughters to the Nutcracker every year. All the children look adorable in their best party clothes. I keep hoping that they will grow up to keep this tradition of dressing for the theater. Who knows. (And I was going to post pix but have been warned about posting any pictures of children on social media. Scary but true)

So Reds, how about you? Do you think there should be a dress code for planes? For the theater? Do you like to get dressed up?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, I've got to say I continue to be appalled by what people wear. I am in airports and on planes frequently, and it is astonishing. And yes, I saw the photos of that woman who was denied boarding. Yeah, she looked bizarre, but you know, I'm kind of on her side. If she wants to look like that, well, okay. Her call. And once you start throwing people off the plane for what they're wearing--it seems like a line that'll soon become difficult.

Still, I have seen women for whom I've wanted to call out--"Hey, ma'am? You forgot your SKIRT!"  And those tan leggings, I have to mention, do NOT look like tights. They look like SKIN. Which, often, is disturbing.

My mother used to say--"Does that woman not own a full length mirror?" And now I say that (to myself) all the time. But she used to yell at me for short skirts--which aren't even short any more. So--do we just ride this out?  And cross fingers we don't have to sit by a person who is all skin?  (I'd rather sit by too much skin than too much perfume.)

But hey. Don't even get me started talking about what newscasters wear on TV. I actually yell at the television: "YOU CAN'T WEAR THAT ON TV!"  But no one seems to care.

I am sad about the demise of--pride in appearance, maybe you could call it. I love to dress up.  And I'd adore to go to the opera with you, Rhys! But to each her own.

HALLIE EPHRON: "Party clothes." Now there's a term I haven't heard in awhile. I think I can remember every "party dress" I ever owned, and still feel those scratchy crinolines that you wore under or were sewn into the skirt. Dressing up for me now is a short black sheath, worn with or without a longish underskirt. Pearls. Pink of course. Period. I had to buy a party dress for my daughter's wedding and it was as painful as buying a bathing suit.

I do people-watch in airports and what astonishes me is women who can traipse around in 4" heels. And has anyone else noticed women traveling in what really looks lke PJs. Flannel PJs.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: The PJs. And the flip-flops. I object to those in airports just on practical grounds - if you have to dash from Terminal A to Terminal C, you want something secure on your feet! I agree with you, Rhys, there does seem to be a loss of pride in appearance in the present day. I suppose it's the sartorial equivalent of people who are proud of not being "politically correct" - as if speaking politely and with sensitivity makes one a phony.

I do enjoy dressing for occasions. I have some fancy-ish separates perfect for entertaining at home, and the family always does it up for the Portland Symphony Magic of Christmas concerts. I don't go to the theatre in a long dress, but I always wear something that says "this is a special occasion." Really, the way everything's wrinkle-free and made with a bit of spandex, it's not hard to look good and still feel perfectly comfortable. A pair of well-fitting trousers,  a silk blouse or a fine wool sweater, cute flats and a showy necklace can take you anywhere from dinner at the local bistro to a friend's daughter's wedding and can travel from NY to LA with you always looking attractive and appropriate.

As to the short-short-shorts, my hope would be that everyone is covered enough so I don't have to worry about having to drape a towel over my airplane seat...

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh you guys are cracking me up! I admit to dressing for comfort on planes. Not my nightgown, mind you, but yoga pants and a sweatshirt:). We do try to look decent at the theater, and it is astonishing that people come looking as though they were going to the beach.

In general, teenagers wear things that my parents would have fainted dead away to see. What I want to say when I see what they're showing is: "Are you sure you want creepy guys to be looking at you that way??" (NOT to be confused with men dressing up as women and hiding out in the girls' restrooms LOL.)

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Flip flops! Not only uncomfortable walking and carrying luggage, but dangerous because it's impossible to run in them. And can you imagine if there was an emergency? Same with all that bare skin on planes. Scalding from hot drinks, burns in any sort of emergency. And then there's the "ick" factor. I don't really want to sit next to someone wearing what amounts to underwear--or sit where they've sat! Maybe the airlines could have a "no bare skin on the seat"policy...  It's a really difficult thing to make rules that can be practically enforced and that don't offend someone.

I can't blame people for wanting to be comfortable on long flights, but I usually try to find something that still looks nice. Maybe that's old fashioned...

But, honestly, nothing could beat the things we saw on the street in New Orleans!

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Oh my goodness, at the Marriott in New Orleans for Bouchercon, there were people using the lobby restroom BAREFOOT! can you imagine?

I absolutely believe in dressing up for the theater, etc. — it's a sign of respect. The actors/dancers/puppeteers have all dressed up in costumes and put on makeup; we should respect that and dress up as well. Kiddo is not a fan of dressing up these days, but he knows that a trip to the theater means trousers, belt, and a button-down shirt at the very least. And I really love to dress up — so different from my everyday life. It's a treat. And I love the people-watching during intermission. A friend and I have season tickets together to New York City Ballet and we sit in the first ring and watch the world parade by below us.

And I don't understand the flip-flops thing, especially in New York. The streets of New York are ... not clean. Enough said.

I miss Miss Edna for many, many reasons, but her take on the fashions of New Yorkers was priceless: "That's quite a skirt she's almost wearing," was one. And, "Nice dress—too bad they didn't have enough fabric to finish it." And if a woman was wearing something too short and/or tight and a sexy walk: "That's quite a hitch in her get-a-long."

RHYS: Oh how I wish Miss Edna was still with us. There are so few true characters in the world any more and she was a wonderful character.
Oh, and did you notice the food in all those pix, which were courtesy of British Airways and Delta archives.

So what do you think, dear readers? Should people be allowed to wear what they like on planes? Do you still dress up for important occasions?


  1. I really enjoy dressing up and always try to dress to suit the occasion. I agree with Susan that dressing for the theatre is showing respect to the cast.
    I do not understand the popularity of flip-flops, which I always think of as shower shoes; I find them to be both uncomfortable and impractical. It amazes me that shoe stores actually market them as sandals.

    I see so many inappropriately-dressed folks these days, but the desire to be comfortable seems to have replaced pride in one’s appearance. However, as Julia says, it’s certainly possible to be both comfortable and nicely dressed, even for air travel. But many travelers apparently don’t care what they look like and I don’t imagine the airlines plan to step up and adopt some sort of a dress code any time soon . . . .

  2. Wearing your Sunday best is how being dressed up was phrased when I was growing up and a bit beyond that. It does indeed show respect for the cast or for the event and for yourself when you dress up for a performance. Traveling used to be a matter of looking nice, if not your best. I have given in to wearing jeans sometimes when I fly, but it's always with a nice top and jacket or sweater. And, I want my feet covered when traveling. I know I'd be the person who would get their foot stepped if I wore flip flops. Besides flip flops aren't even comfortable for me. I also still believe that if you dress nicely, you actually get treated better, especially when checking into a hotel after a flight.

    A couple of friends and I have season tickets to the Broadway series at our local entertainment centre, and we always dress up and go out to eat somewhere nice before the performance. Of course, there are always people that attend who have jeans or the like on, and I just think it diminishes the special feeling of the event. Last year, I took my teenage granddaughter, along with her other grandmother, to a special concert of the Piano Guys. We all dressed up, went out to eat, and went to the concert in style. That really did make it special, and my granddaughter thought it was wonderfully grown-up.

    And, even going to the doctor's office is something I still try to look nice for. I guess it's habit, but I think it's a good one. I'm not a sweatpants or sweatshirt kind of person, so I don't ever wear those anywhere. I'm not dissing sweatshirts completely, as I've seen some nice ones, but I find them hot and uncomfortable. I much prefer blouses, even with jeans.

    I have to mention a conversation that my mother-in-law and I had today about maternity wear. It's not exactly on topic about dressing up, but it's another area of dress that has changed drastically. My nephew's wife is due to give birth in about 7 weeks, and my MIL was talking about the dress that the mother-to-be wore at a baby shower. It was one of those form fitting deals that they wear now, showing not only the baby bump but every other curve, too. Maternity wear doesn't really exist anymore, and the move to the form fitting is something I'm still getting used to. It seems like the dresses, or the ones that my nephew's wife wears (and I should add that this is a most stylish woman) are even a bit short. Again, times they have changed.

  3. I agree that I see many people dressing very casually while traveling by plane. I aim for dressing comfortably. This means being fully covered by wearing several layers and fully covering my feet in comfortable shoes. I usually have connecting flights, and the temperatures can vary quite a bit depending on the type of plane/duration of flight. I don't even own a pair of flip flops, so I certainly don't see the attraction of wearing them on a plane!

    The only time I dress up nicely these days are for a nice dinner, and for some concerts/theatre performances.

  4. I remember when flying was a dress up event and when even something as small as going to "the city" (NYC) meant you got dressed up. These days, it seems anything goes. Still, the stories amaze me. I fly in casual attire, often jeans and a long sleeved shirt carrying a blazer. I freeze on planes for some reason and have more times than I care to count been the recipient of a row mate's coffee or soda, and once scotch! No one's fault, just turbulence. I still dress for the theater and better restaurants. Somehow, it feels right.

    Hank, I love your mother's phrase!

  5. Always dress up for special occasions. Comfortable long pants for airplanes - because it's always cold up there. And think of the people in flip flops who have to take them off for security - do they realize where they are standing in that x-ray device is not beach sand scoured clean by salt water? After a painful year of getting plantar warts removed from my feet a decade ago, I don't go barefoot anywhere but the beach and my own bathroom.

  6. When my grandchildren went abroad they wore flip-flops as the easiest way to get through the lines where you had to take off your shoes. I wouldn't want to put my bare feet on those floors, but they didn't seem to mind or get sick.

  7. Kathy Reel, so like your comment on maternity wear. It seems that fashion has gone totally opposite from the 1950s - 1960s, what my mother called "baby doll dresses" -- all those floppy bow and lace at the neckline (to distract from the baby bump?).

    For flying I dress neatly casual-- but warm and washable in case of spills. Always feel somewhat grubby after flying, airport lines, etc., so I want something that I can toss in the laundry bag and not worry if it takes a few days to get it to the washer.

  8. Maternity wear used to be a tent with a neck hole in the top... yup with a little lace collar. Demure.

    Elisabeth mentioned what I always think about in an airport or on a plane - and that's that it can get really COLD on a plane and there's no more free blankets on most flights. So I feel sorry for those poor ladies wearing sleeveless crop tops and shorts. Brrrr.

  9. Rhys, this is a hot button issue with me. Everybody just wants to be "comfortable", even when it makes the rest of us distinctly uncomfortable seeing them. One friend of ours only wears sweatpants, just about every day of his life. Short in the summer, long in the winter. He says he "can't stand" pants with zippers and belts. Ye gods. I love the guy, but...

    I mourn the days of flying as occasion. It's partly the airlines' fault, though. They treat us as cattle. It's shocking how rude personnel can be, and what the airlines expect us all to put up with. It's really no wonder so many people try to dress as comfortably as possible, although I still maintain it's possible to do so with style. How hard it is to add a beautiful shawl to your outfit?

    I started noticing a few years ago that young women were (barely) dressed in short, tight dresses with sky-high heels, accompanied by men wearing baggy shorts and oversized sports jerseys, athletic shoes, and ball caps. What? That shows a lack of respect to me, if a date can't at least make as much effort as his partner to clean up a little. Luckily, my own daughters are with men who appreciate their efforts to look nice for them, and the dress in kind. As for maternity wear, wow, things sure have changed since I was pregnant. In good ways and in bad.

    My own, personal objection to flip-flops anywhere but at the beach or in my own home is also safety, but in a slightly different way from Kathy's tender feet. I want to be able to maneuver away from danger, if need be, and flimsy, slappy sandals don't cut it.

    We are going out this week to celebrate a big milestone in my life, and by golly, I'm getting dolled up, and my husband is wearing a jacket and tie, I don't care how he whines about it. We'll be at the finest restaurant in the city, and that's part of my gift, to be dressy.

  10. Interesting topic.

    I dress for the occasion, my interpretation of what is correct. But I don't give a damn what anyone else wears. My favorite occupation while waiting for a plane is people watching. I score them on the binary system: Yes No Once in a while I see a WOW.

    Much of my fun would disappear if everyone started dressing like church ladies again. What would I find to be appalled at?

    Today I am waiting for the refrigerator repairman (don't ask, it's brand-new)and I just saw the floor redo person. I have on old jeans, a long sleeved tee shirt and shoes. It's as good as I get most days.

  11. Yes, it's hilarious to watch people at the airport. Agree about the flip flops-disgusting, inefficient and can only lead to cold feet.

    And yes, even in my knit dress and levi jacket, I am freezing on planes--a good pashmina is a necessity. ANd I know I'm a fine one to ask--but why do women wear high heels to the airport? That seems crazy to me. Wear flats, carry heels.

    The whole shoe-removal thing creates a landmine of its own. Disgusting. Yay for TSA precheck is all I can say.

    But I do think, psychologically, it's a different experience if you look…"nice." Not necessarily dressed to the nines, but put together and thoughtful. Isn;t that an insight to one's own self-respect? As KAren in Ohio says, it is a lack of respect, and of self-respect. But maybe we are (happily) fogies!

    ANd hey--what you wear at home by yourself? That doesn't count.

    1. I want to dress as you do every day, Hank. Once a college friend and I were headed to an adult drinking establishment in August. Her shorts were so skimpy...What we saw between her legs. Use your imagination ...

  12. My dad, bless him, would invariably grumble some comment to my mom back when sweatpants first became common outside of the gym. And she would say to him, "You don't have to look." But it's everywhere these days--maybe I'm a prude, but I really don't care to see anyone's bra or underwear. I certainly am a casual dresser--and I do flipflops when weather permits if I can't find a pair of sandals to fit. But planes ARE cold and I dress for that with layers--jeans if I'm on my way to friends or family, something a bit nicer if I'm going to be checking into a hotel/traveling with business colleagues, etc. When I lived in the city, friends and I had season tickets to the ballet, too, and part of the excitement was getting all dressed up and going out to eat before or after and people-watching before, during intermission, and after the show.

    And one last thing that really bothers me--girls on the street in shorts that do indeed fit and look like underwear--this is what they now wear as part of sports uniforms--volleyball, anyone? And so, apparently, their parents have no problem with them wearing the same kind of shorts out.

  13. Rhys, you hit one of my hot buttons, especially on airplanes. It can get cold on the planes and who wants to put their bare feet on a floor which never gets cleaned (in the line and in the machine, I bet it doesn't). I agree that the airport is seriously good people watching but honestly!
    One of my sisters coined a phrase for a too-short skirt, "a vestigial skirt".

  14. Yes, bare feet at TSA security is weird but my pet peeve is people taking off their shoes once they are in their seat on the plane. Yuck!

  15. I am in solid agreement regarding what is worn in public. The best we can do is dress appropriately and not sloppily. The word dignified comes to mind.perhaps we no longer need to wear gloves, but a dress or pretty skirt with even a hat now and then would be A1.

  16. I'm traveling across country with my dear friend right now and I have noticed there is a difference the way that we are treated depending on whether we're dressed in are sloppy moving clothes or looking more like respectable professional middle-aged ladies.

    It's surprising to me what a difference brushed hair lipstick and a pair of earrings makes in one's appearance.

    And I will Echo everyone who talks about how cold it is on an airplane. I always wear pants and bring a pashmina with me because it can go from stuffy and hot in the airport itself to Icelandic once the plane has taken off.

  17. I also worked in the airline industry for a number of years - Delta, and then Southern Airways, a small regional airline that I absolutely loved. Not only was I expected to dress appropriately while flying, I was "told" what I could and could not wear to work. This wasin the late 60s, early 70s, dresses were short. I didn't make the damn things, I just bought them and was sent home from work to change into something "more appropriate" on more than one occasion. And truthfully? It hurt my feelings and it pissed me off. Not only that - but pants were not allowed at work - pants suits were just beginning to come into style, but they weren't allowed either. Bizarre, I thought then and still think. I do know how to dress and I think I do a pretty good job of it. Needless to say? Delta Airlines and I did not see eye to eye. and I have a book's worth of stories about all that. Others and how they dress? Weelllll, I find myself shaking my head at what they might be wearing, whispering "bless her heart," but truth be told - other than that I don't care. And no, I don't think the airline should have told that woman she had to change her clothes. I do love to dress up, yes.

    One of my "practice husbands" worked for a large Big 8 accounting firm which also insisted on telling their employees, and their spouses, how to dress while flying because we did so much of it.

    I have to tell you. I resented the hell out of all these companies telling me how to dress.

    So now, while I continue to dress nicely (without the help of Delta Airlines and Arthur Andersen telling me how) I silently will cheer for those who dress the way they want. It's not the way I want to dress, but good for them.


  18. Kathy Boone Reel's name was drawn out of the pink Willie Nelson baseball cap last night and will receive a copy of my New Orleans photo.

    Thanks to all who expressed interest and said nice things about my photos!

  19. When I worked for the airline, my colleagues and I would joke, "You can always tell the non-revs. They are the ones that are nicely dressed. I live in the tropics, and business attire is a little different. Men might wear guayabera shirts,shirts with tropical prints. Women do not always wear hose. I am a large woman, preferring comfort over fashion -- anything to avoid stewing in my perspiration.

    It is a 'dirty' secret that the interiors of planes are not well cleaned. Consider that the cleaners usually have about 20 mins. (if the plane is on time) to board, remove service litter, take care of any accidental spill, and clean the heads. Special care must be given to business and first class. The cleaning crews are some of the lowest paid airline workers. Usually non union, and often sub contracted. The interior space on an Airbus (for example) is approx 700 square feet, it is a wonder that it gets clean at all.

    Rhys, how does this information differ from when your husband worked in the business?

    As for passenger clothing, I did wonder about the person in 'cosplay' wear I saw a few years ago.

  20. There are different aspects to this subject-- I mean, if the airline is going to treat passengers like cattle, shouldn't we dress for steerage?

    I usually fly in comfortable jeans, layers of cotton tops, and even cotton underwear. Also comfortable shoes that I can slip off in an emergency (you're not supposed to wear shoes on an evacuation slide. I also count rows to the exits for the same reason.) I've been doing this ever since I learned that synthetic clothing will melt into your skin in the event of a fire-- and if you're going to get out of a downed plane that hasn't killed everybody on board in mid-air, you might have to dash through some flames.

    Okay, I have a vivid imagination (I'm a novelist) but I also believe in mitigating potential damages (comes of practicing law for half a century).

    That said, if you are dressed nicely, you are more likely to be bumped up to first class if there is an opening and the plane is oversold. It's sort of like the story I told one of my friends on Facebook who was posting about how much she loved hats. Some 25 years ago, I acquired a bright red pillbox hat with a veil and small feather for a special occasion that required a hat (I was so happy to be able to justify that purchase!) and I wore it in NYC while on a business trip (to reduce the cost-per-wear and because I wanted to). I was on my way uptown at rush hour, and stepped out of Saks to hail a cap on Fifth Avenue-- and several of them came to screeching halts right in front of me. Maybe being dressed up enough to wear a hat signifies a big tip?

    So there are benefits to being presentable (and more than presentable), but there is a lot to be said for feeling comfortable, especially if you are on a 14-hour flight to Asia.

  21. Oh, Ellen, and I thought I was the only one! (Isn't there an evacuation slide in the back?

    Talk about superstitious, I also don't wear my wedding ring on a plane. I leave it at home where my daughters can find it, just in case I don't come back. Weirdly, knowing that calms me. Because once you're on the plane, what will be will be.

  22. Rhys,

    I get what you are saying. When I fly, I dress as nicely as possible. I also wear thick socks so when I have to take off the loafers for security check, I still protect my feet. Loafers are easy to put on and off for me. I have seen some people wear flip flops at the airport. Regarding skin baring clothes, it depends on the weather and the destination. When I flew Pan Am to England, people dressed up. I do not recall any skin baring clothes or flip flops. Though that was before 9/11.

    When I was growing up, we always dressed up when going into the City. Now I see more casual wear and sometimes you cannot tell the difference between homeless people and people who dress in street clothes.

    For formal events, I dress up to the nines.


  23. I won't get into the present day clothing discussion.

    But what about the change in the look of employees? My father was an Eastern Airlines pilot back when "stewardesses" had age, weight, height, hair, and who knows what else restrictions (like having to wear a girdle).
    The pictures recall those wonderful days when meals were gourmet multi-course offerings with wine.

  24. I'm younger than most here so my opinion is a bit different, I guess.

    When I have to leave the house, I put on "real clothes" - usually jeans and a sweater or nice shirt. I'm - weird - about button-downs. I like fitted shirts. I just put a whole bunch of ones I didn't like in the charity bin - along with most of my dressy slacks. I hadn't worn them in over a year and they don't go with flats. I switched over to chinos for occasions when I can't wear jeans.

    When I went to my first Bouchercon in Cleveland, I was told "business casual attire." So I did. Brought out the cute, dressy and - honestly - uncomfortable shoes. When I went in Raleigh, I was so relieved that it was more "dress how you want to be perceived." So it was file-wale cords and dark-wash jeans with flats.

    Same this year. Chinos and dark wash (dressier) jeans. Nice tops.

    For the plane, I wore comfortable, casual layers. Because, as so many of you pointed out, it's cold.

    Shoes? Flats only for me but here's the thing. I have issues with my feet and I really don't find ANY shoe comfortable. So I take them off at any opportunity. I don't think I'd do a plane (ick) though. They don't work in flip-flops any longer. The issues with my feet are worse when they overheat, so I can't wear socks. It's nylons or bare feet.

    My idea of dressing up these days is a nice dress or skirt with a nice sweater/shirt/blouse. I'm not sure I could do black-tie.

    Now my kids - that's a different story.

    My son has to wear a shirt/tie/khakis/shoes to school EVERY DAY. On the weekends, he wants to get comfy and that means jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts. But he wouldn't think to not dress up for something special - church, a dance, a theater outing. My girl wears a uniform. She got two weeks of dress-down days for meeting a fundraising goal. It's yoga pants or sweats every day. She doesn't like hanging out of clothes, though and she really doesn't like flip-flops unless she's going to the pool. (Dress shopping for homecoming was a nightmare, truly.) But she likes shorter skirts. As a mother, I'd rather have her wear a shorter skirt (to a certain length) than some of these ridiculous plunges and cut-outs I see.

    I do believe in dressing to the occasion. I wouldn't wear sweats to the theater or the symphony and neither would my kids. But I'm very grateful I can wear comfortable, nice clothes (a black wrap jersey dress) and nice jewelry with flats.

    Oh and maternity clothes? I never wore them. Why? I didn't want to look like a frump (the revolution hadn't quite finished coming to maternity back in 2000). But I was too self-conscious to wear a bathing suit. I applaud the women who are comfortable enough in their skins to not feel as though they need to hide their pregnant bodies under mounds of fabric.

  25. Oh Libby, flight attendants? My best friend was a purser for Pam Am. Every morning they had a weight and girdle check. Now some of the flight attendants are older than I am, some so wide they have to turn sideways to get down the center aisle. I doubt many of these could carry out a passenger over their shoulders in an emergency!

    And I went to the Magic Castle last night. Very swank with a strict dress code. Cocktail dresses and suits. Well, everybody obeyed but some of the dresses on younger women barely covered their behinds. How can that either look good or be acceptable?

    Rhys, sitting at LAX with another delayed flight!

  26. Happy travels, Rhys!

    I have to admit I like the form fitting maternity clothes. Oh, my, the maternity clothes in the fifties were awful. (Not too long ago we watched home movies of my husband's mom and aunt in their maternity "tents." So funny.)

  27. I shake my head in airports too. But I find myself at funeral home viewings and services being just flummoxed. This is how you dress to come pay honor to someone's grieving family: cutoffs, tank tops and flip flops? And it's not just young people, it's their parents too. Ridiculous!

    I have seen people come in work clothes, and I can understand that if they don't have time to go home and change, they'd rather show up like that than not at all. But the other stuff just gets my goat.

  28. Last year, when I was trying to dress a 40ish urban white male for a book, I found myself watching the men in airports. About half wore suits, trousers with a jacket, or a "casual Friday" look of decent pants and something above a T shirt. Maybe another quarter wore jeans. The last quarter was in everything from cargo shorts to sweats to loose cotton pants that look like pajama bottoms, with flip flops and even rubber shower sandals. Really? Gave me the heebie-jeebies, to tell the truth.

    Worse, it didn't help me dress my character. :)

    I spotted this explanation for the casual (or too-casual) trend in the Wash Post.

  29. Rhys mentioned evening gowns. I bought my first one (since h.s. prom dresses!) for the Edgars, and also wore it to the Agathas two nights later. And I LOVED it. I'm searching eagerly for a chance to wear it again! And seeing men dressed up, esp at the Edgars where many wore tuxes? SO nice!

  30. Oh, absolutely you are treated differently if you are well dressed! No question. or even reasonably dressed. But it makes a huge difference.

    Mary-dress how you want to be perceived it such great advice!

    Poor Rhys! Sigh…but most of the time it's wonderful, right?? xoxoo

  31. Oh, Susan. That's quite a hitch in her get-a-long - Priceless!

  32. Yep, times have changed. Flying involved dressing up nicely. Going to the theater meant wearing something special. Those days are gone for now but I'm sure they'll return eventually. Everything is cyclical. My grown son likes to dress up for occasions. I try to look decent but be comfortable when I fly. Airports are great for peoplewatching, aren't they? Some of those outfits. . . One of my favorite Crankshaft cartoons had Ed at a mall, complimenting a woman on her teens' hooker costumes for Halloween. Except they weren't.

  33. Kaye, I am thrilled to have won your photo. You take such stunning ones!

    Debs, I think I'm getting to where I like the new maternity look, as the young women do look so cute. It's not the baby bump that bothered me at all. It was the bootay that is form fitting that I can't really get used to in maternity or non-maternity wear. Probably due to me wanting to hide the size of mine.

  34. It isn't just Americans these days. Before my trip to Europe, my travel agent advised me, if I needed directions or help, to look for the well-dressed woman "wearing the real pashmina" (vs. the kind she was recommending from SteinMart).

    The whole three weeks I was on the lookout for such a mythical creature, and the only place I really saw elegantly dressed travelers was in Castellina in Chianti, where we saw the fancy wedding. Everyone else was dressed very casually. It was kind of depressing, to tell the truth. Not that I plan to take up a collection for couture designers, or anything.

  35. Hey, folks. The day I retired I donated 99% of my dressy/work clothes and switched to jeans and tee-shirts. I have one ultra dressy outfit for cruises and banquets, but otherwise it's casual most of the time. I'm a bit dressier for the theatre, yes, but not "dressed up" in the traditional sense. I don't generally mind how others are dressed, provided they are neat and clean, although dragging pants, skirts and shorts up to there, and bare midriffs that are darn near bare everything turn me off. I'm also traditional enough not to want to wear flannel PJ bottoms even to take the trash to the curb. I guess each of us has his or her own internal list of what is or is not appropriate. It may be generational, it may be experience-based. I can admire those who dress beautifully without wanting or needing to emulate them.

  36. Pat D--that is hilarious..I guess.

    And Karen, that is pretty brilliant. (And isn't Castellina amazing? xoxo)

  37. At the Y they fall back on "family-appropriate" when too much is visible in the pool.
    When I taught, we defined our dress code with 7 B's we didn't want visible: bra straps, breasts, backs, bellies, bottoms, boxers, and bedroom wear (if I recall correctly). I have been retired since '06. Gosh, ten years!
    I do dress for comfort, and to avoid the latex in spandex and other elastics, but still decently, at least I hope so. I did manage to get upgraded once to the upstairs of a plane. ;-)
    Hank, I agree that perfume is a bigger problem. I can choose not to look or to be amused by what I see, but the physical reactions to stray scents and other chemicals are not as easy to deal with. Travel well, my friends!

  38. Oh my goodness, how funny. When my children were little and we had to use a public bathroom I often found myself saying ( quite loudly) "Don't touch anything. This floor is FILTHY" Then I would look around at the alarm on the other occupants faces. Well, the floors were filthy!!

  39. I think caring too much about this makes everyone sound too much like their grandmother.

  40. Flying still feels like a special occasion to me so I try to dress up while keeping comfort in mind. (Lycra is definitely a girl's best friend for traveling pants.) Edith Head had her opinion on the subject (of course). From her 1959 book, The Dress Doctor, her advice on what to wear for airplane travel: "Dress with jacket or suit of crease-resistant fabric (two-piece costume best, jacket can be removed, sweater can be added, dark or medium colors preferable); + street shoes + hat + bag + gloves." Not a bad prescription!

  41. I dress for comfort when I fly, and always try to keep in mind that I'll need to wear shoes that are easy to get in and out of for the sake of the TSA and the folks in line behind me. Flip-flops might be taking it a bit too far, though. As for the theatre, well . . . I don't want some super-strict dress code to bar anyone from coming to hear my group's music. We are a classical ensemble that draws a significant student audience, from middle-schoolers through college kids. If jeans and a t-shirt are all a student has to wear, I say he or she should come on anyway, and enjoy the live concert experience. The tickets are expensive enough without requiring them to go out and buy a new outfit, too. The opera, the symphony, and the ballet constantly struggle with dwindling audiences and fading subscription numbers. Insisting on a formal dress code in today's casual world just gives folks one more excuse to stay home and play video games. Sure, it's fun to dress up, if you can afford the gown, the shoes, the hair, and the jewels for one special night, but if you can't, I'd rather you just come on and listen to the music. We'll turn the house lights out. You'll look fine.

  42. Frankly my dears, airlines have gone out of their way to make air travel such an appalling ordeal, with little ease and comfort from start to finish, that I figure we can wear pretty much whatever works to help us get through it.